Myotismon sipped blood from a finely chiselled crystal goblet, and moodily watched the moon rise in full silver radiance. Light from the windows before him cut through the darkness that shrouded him. His face, a white porcelain mask of hauteur, stood out in startling relief against the shadows. A chill breeze stirred the gossamer curtains, dishevelling his pale blond hair. He paid the distraction scant attention, his mind absorbed on other matters. What did it matter? None of it was real, after all.
With cold detachment, he watched as his fingers tightened around the bowl of the goblet, until the fragile glass shattered into knifelike shards and the contents spattered all round in a ruby spray. He noted that a sliver had driven deep into the flesh of his palm. Rather than pluck it out, he flexed his hand experimentally, testing his response. A mild, brief flash of heat, and an odd pang of sharpness which quickly vanished. His brows furrowed in displeasure, as he pulled the splinter out and threw it carelessly away. No pain that could be called that. Instead, it was the dull, vaguely recalled sensation of a long-forgotten injury.
An idle gesture on his part; one of impatience. He examined the goblet, now whole and filled once more, filled with the precious red fluid he had once used to sustain his life. Likewise his hand bore no trace of any injury.
How utterly futile. His life no longer held any purpose. He now needed nothing. Here he existed, and would continue to exist, for as long as the mainframe maintained this mockery of reality. A reflection without a form, neither truly alive or dead, with the capacity to act but not to feel. More than anything else, he hungered for real sensation. Pleasure or pain, he didn't care--so long as it was real. Yes, there were things far worse than dying, such as this simulacrum of life. Maybe there was such a thing as Hell.
A woman's voice cut through his reverie, one he recognized immediately.
"So, the great Myotismon has been reduced to this," sneered Lady Devimon, as she slipped forth from the shadows, black wings half-furled.
Myotismon did not move. "I see you fared no better, my lady," he said. "So what brings you to my humble abode? Here to share your happiness with me?"
Lady Devimon turned to him, her expression one of malignity, frustration and bitter defeat. "I have nowhere else to be," she said. Was that a trace of humility in her voice, however unlikely? wondered Myotismon.
"Better to suffer my presence than to be alone, do you mean, Lady Devimon?", pursued Myostismon smoothy. "Well, you do not have long to wait, I am quite sure. Your master will --"
"Our master, do you not mean?" cried Lady Devimon. "Do not give yourself airs, Myotismon!"
Myotismon ignored her. "Your master will be here shortly." He lifted his glass in a sardonic toast, before downing the contents.
"Piedmon will never be defeated!" snapped Lady Devimon. "His power is more than great enough to--"
"To prevent the ignominy of being destroyed by a pack of sniveling, mewling brats? Something we ourselves could not avoid?"
"How dare you even consider yourself his equal?" Lady Devimon gasped. "You, who failed so utterly in your insane quest to rule both the Digiverse and the real world? A mere underling?"
"I was never Piedmon's servant, Lady Devimon. Regardless of what you or anyone else thought." Myotismon turned to face Lady Devimon. "As for Piedmon, what can I say? His capacity to overlook the obvious is almost legendary." He shrugged and continued tersely. "But I think at this point that neither your opinion or mine counts for anything. Or have you forgotten where we now dwell?"
Lady Devimon fell silent, her face devoid of any expression. Only her glowing scarlet eyes showed emotion; hate, anger, bitter resentment. If looks could kill--if they were not already dead, Myotismon felt he would have been blasted to dust. His attention strayed to the window. The faintest glimmerings of pseudodawn illuminated the horizon, turning the sable to clear blue. Already streaks of red reflected against the clouds. Myotismon sighed, and rose from his throne. "Your pardon, my lady, but it is late and I must retire. Until nightfall?"
Lady Devimon ignored him pointedly, staring off into the synthetic sunrise. No reply, but Myotismon had expected none. He strode from the room, seeking his coffin, and the illusionary security of familiar things. So much work for no real reason. As he walked slowly through the silent stone corridors, eyes taking note of every detail; the irregularity of the granite paving, the perfect smoothness of the spiral staircase that took him down to his crypt. So much work, and for nothing. As he climbed into his casket and reclined upon his cold satin bed, it occurred to him that he had no need of rest or sleep, or was he likely to ever again. He dismissed the notion, and settled himself in, lowering the lid. Anything is preferable to this state of existence, he thought drowsily. Even dreams are more real than this.
He closed his eyes. Sleep took him swiftly.
For a time he drifted, only marginally aware of himself. Here, there was neither darkness or light, hot or cold, silence or sound. Neither Heaven or Hell existed here, Earth or Digiverse. Hopes, ambitions, fears, angers; all gone. Here, for a time his tortured soul knew peace.
Something drew him back.
A high-pitched laugh was the first sound Myotismon heard. He knew that voice, too. It was the eighth digidestined child, Hikari. He opened his eyes. A small room, filled with brightly colored things, posters of puppies and kittens. It was a warm place, filled with light and icons of childish happiness. Myotismon felt deeply uneasy.
Kari sprawled across her narrow bed, absorbed in reading a comic book, oblivious to his presence. Her light brown hair caught sunlight streaming through the window, lightening it to ash-gold. Now and then, she giggled. Myotismon stared at her through narrowed eyes. Venomous anger snaked through him as he gazed on her young, untroubled face. Ah yes, he knew. The one who brought me to this wretched state.
He knelt beside the bed, reached one finger to place under her chin, raising her face to his. He took note of the sharply indrawn breath, the widened eyes, the dilated pupils. The fact that her face had gone pallid at the sight of him pleased him highly. Human blood tastes best with a dash of fear, he thought and laughed inwardly.
"I see that you have not forgotten me," said Myotismon. "And, as you can plainly see, I have not forgotten you."
"No," answered Kari, her voice a whisper. "But why did you come back?"
Her simple direct question took Myotismon aback. In truth, he didn't know what his purpose there was. Hunger for revenge still burned within him, but there was something else.
"Maybe I came to see you," said Myotismon, with eel-like charm. His crimson lips contorted in a cynical twist into something that resembled a smile. In the back of his mind, a plan was taking shape.
Kari nodded silently, her eyes never leaving his face.
"Will you come with me, talk with me for awhile?" said Myotismon. His ice blue eyes stared into Kari's warm brown ones.
"Will you promise not to hurt anyone if I do?" asked Kari warily. She curled up, thin arms wrapping around herself reflexively.
"I give my word. Now, come with me." Myotismon extended a gloved hand to her.
Kari swallowed visibly, then slipped her small hand into his. Though her face was resolute, Myotismon could feel her tremble. His sneer widened.
"Not here, however," he continued. "If you will allow me...?" As Kari gasped, Myotismon concentrated on a distant point, focused...
They both vanished.
Myotismon looked around at his mansion, utterly still, chilling breezes wafting through the hallways. The faint scent of dust and decay pervaded the gloom. Moonlight spilled through the vaulted windows, bathing the chamber in pallid radiance, creating twisted shadows that seemed to move of their own accord.
"I don't believe you've had the privilege of seeing my home, but then few have," said Myotismon, brows furrowed slightly as he surveyed his domain with a critical eye. "Consider yourself honored in this."
Kari looked even smaller than usual, both hands clasped around something she wore on a chain around her neck. Myotismon supposed it to be the crest that marked her to be one of the Digidestined.
"I suppose you want to know why I brought you here," said Myotismon. "You must know how badly you thwarted my ambitions, and revenge does have its merits."
"You promised not to hurt anyone," said Kari.
"This is true. I did promise not to hurt anyone, including you," assured Myotismon. He took a step closer, staring down at her, relishing the feeling of utter superiority his far greater size gave him. "But that does not mean you are safe."
Kari did not answer. A tiny frown wrinkled the smooth brow, as her eyes gazed off into the distance, seeking something not visible to Myotismon. Slowly she turned, spoke to him. "Is anyone ever really safe?" Her questioning eyes sought his, demanded an answer.
Myotismon blinked in astonishment at the unexpected reply. Inwardly he began to seethe. He had waited so long for this moment. Now that his chance had come, a mere child was frustrating him.
"Do not mock me," said Myotismon. Anger started to fuel other desires. He felt control of the situation slip away from him. "Vengeance is not the only thing that I would savor right now."
"But I didn't mean--"
Unthinking, he swept her into his arms, hunger lashing painfully into him. He could almost taste it, the sweet-salt tang of her blood, the heat, the purity. His mouth instinctively sought her throat. Anything to ease the wildness within him, appease the never-ending thirst. Anything.
Kari stared up at him, liquid brown eyes filled with a child's anger and betrayal. "You promised," she cried. "You promised!"
"Do you think mere words will stop me?" hissed Myotismon. "Have you forgotten who I am!" His scarlet lips parted, revealing fangs sharp as knives. Unnoticed, his fingers dug into her soft flesh, hard enough to bruise. So close. His need grew unbearable.
Kari did not struggle, or cry out, as she might. Her eyes remained fixed on his face. Nothing, no fear. Only that smoldering contemptuous look of accusation.
Myotismon stopped. Something prevented him. The only thing that stood between him and sating himself fully on her life's blood was her strength of will and a promise lightly made. "I am Myotismon! I take what I want, and I live forever!"
Kari's eyes never wavered. Her lips never moved, but he could hear the words, nonetheless. They mocked him. You promised, you promised, you promised...
Myotismon's fury and frustration grew to a white-hot pitch. More than anything, he longed to break free, to release the beast within him. She was a tiny human child. He could break her in two, if he wanted, or rip her throat out, and devour the blood as it cascaded over him in a hot scarlet wash. He could do anything he wanted to her. Anything at all.
No. He could not. It was a lie, and he knew it. Even in his frenzy, she had bested him, without effort. Her body was weak, but her spirit was inviolable. It was not a digidestined child he held in his arms, it was a tiny fortress of indomitable will.
An alien emotion grew within him, unpleasant and cold. Strange metallic taste in his mouth, overpowering his craving, leaving him cold and utterly empty. Not hunger. It was fear.
He dropped Kari and took a step back. She lay on the floor, a mere scrap of a girl. Her eyes never left his face.
With an odd choked sound, he spun on his heel, and dissolved back into the void.
Myotismon woke to painful, savage hunger, coursing through his body. He rose swiftly, and ascended the long spiral staircase, his mind clear. He knew what he needed. As he passed from the antechamber into the great hall, he saw Lady Devimon, looking at him, as always, both lost and enraged. Myotismon pictured a cornered albino rat. Perfect, he thought.
"Let me guess," she snapped, not bothering with a greeting, as Myotismon approached her. "You want something from me."
"Why, Lady Devimon, how perceptive of you," said Myotismon, bearing down on her, hand extended. She took a wary step back-- Too late.
He seized her by one wrist, pulling her into his arms. One hand knotted a fist in her hair, jerking her head to one side. He could not hear the stream of epithets that burst in a furious poisoned flow from her, as he opened his mouth and dug his fangs into her throat. Fluid gushed down his throat; a tainted ichor, unpleasantly slippery that savored of rot and age. His hunger goaded him, even as it robbed him of reason. It all seemed so simple. She struggled. He fed.
Long moments passed in frenzied stillness, as he drank his fill. His appetite gradually unwound from him, slipping away, leaving him with a faint vile taste in his mouth, clutching an enraged demoness to his chest.
Lady Devimon shoved him off, one hand pressed to the wound. Her hand lashed out, slapping him across one patrician cheek. talons gouging into the cold flesh. The sound of impact was thin, the sensation, though briefly fierce, was fleeting. Even this lacks credibility, he thought bitterly. He had hoped that her fury would have made a difference.
"If you were not already dead, you bastard, I would have killed you for that," Lady Devimon ground out, thin lips narrowed to a line. She seemed ready to attack.
Myotismon shrugged in exquisite indifference, as he wiped her black blood off his lips. Pointless stupid thing to do. But it restored him to himself once more, brought him back into equillibrium, so that he could think and see things clearly. "But I am already dead," said Myotismon. "And I am as incapable of harming you as you are of me."
Lady Devimon stopped as the point sank in, and her hands dropped to her side. She laughed, hard peals of vicious sound. "Was that supposed to mean something, Myotismon? Either your words or the pathetic show you staged for me?"
"Oh, shut up, you cow," snarled Myotismon, and stalked off into the mansion, sable cloak billowing behind him. Her brittle laughter followed him out of the chamber, splintering into a spray of icy echoes. Like the shattering of a crystal goblet, he noted.
He refused to let her derision goad him, and turned his mind forcibly to other matters. Despite this, his mood grew fouler. It didn't help that there was no particular place he wanted to be because there was no better place to be. He didn't want to spend an eternity, such as it was, sleeping.
Something gnawed at him.
He recalled Lady Devimon with stark clarity. A pallid harpy in torn, buckled and strapped cyberpunk black leather garb, she seemed the very epitome of a herald of digidestruction. He pictured her as he had first seen her; tattered black bat wings, dead white cobweb fine hair and clammy skin, and eyes too used to scorn, too hard to weep. Lips that were too jaded to do anything but smirk. Out of nowhere, an odd thought sprang up, and he found himself wondering if she had ever truly smiled in her entire existence.
Somehow he doubted it. She was too much like himself.