Possible Trigger Warning:Contains scenes of supernatural horror
She sat beside the window of her small room, the humble cell she had occupied in the boarding house since she was a very, very young girl. It was raining outside, a steady rhythm of autumn song, turning the whole pleasure quarter into a gleaming wet jewel in the night. It was cold outside—she felt the night breeze tickle her arms underneath the fabric of her kimono, sending a shiver down her spine.
“Are you almost ready, Ayame?”
The young maiko turned to give a nod to her onee-san, her mentor, a lovely and experienced geisha that was everything like an older sister to her. She rose gracefully from her spot by the window and slipped on her okobo shoes—tonight, when she returned to the okiya, she would no longer be the little apprentice with the red collar, who needed Big Sister to manage all her accounts and possessions, all her training in the okiya.
After tonight, she would be geisha, just like onee-san herself.
This was to be the night of her mizuage ceremony. Ayame’s older sister had spent days receiving bids for the right to deflower the beautiful maiko, a coming-of-age that would issue her into the full splendor of life as one of the pleasure-quarter’s most admired artists and entertainers. Ayame had been well-loved in Edo, a maiko sought after by many men. Tonight, one of those men would take her to his bed, and make her a woman.
That shiver returned for just a moment, and Ayame felt her slender arms quaking under her silk. In truth, she had been afraid to face her mizuage ceremony, dreading it for several days. There was a man among the patrons who had made clear his intention to win her, to pay any price to have the pleasure of claiming her innocence—and he had been terrifying in his persistence.
The Daimyo Gohachiro, a mysterious and unpredictable nobleman, had taken an interest in her very early. He visited the pleasure quarters sporadically, never sending word of when he might stop by for an evening, always appearing silently at one of the events she and her onee-san attended and slipping up behind her without a sound, gently stroking callused fingers against the nape of her neck in blatant, scandalous teasing. Ayame’s onee-san did not seem to share her trepidation of the man; to Big Sister, he was merely a rather self-centered and decadent creature, a wealthy and honored man who had simply become eccentric from the glory.
Ayame, though… she thought the daimyo could actually be deadly.
She had been greatly frightened by the thought that Gohachiro might bid for her with the other nobleman and samurai who met with her onee-san to discuss the mizuage. He had promised her three nights in a row, hadn’t he?
And yet, when all was said and done and onee-san was finished tallying the bids, Gohachiro had not made any offer whatsoever. He did not even appear in the pleasure quarter the night onee-san announced the victor. Instead of the eerie and unsettling daimyo, Ayame’s virtue would be claimed by one of the local samurai, a young, unmarried lord with a heavy purse and apparently something to prove. It was not a modest sum this samurai had paid for her: indeed, onee-san had been dizzy at the total offered. It would ensure Ayame had one of the most elaborate and enviable debuts as a geisha that most in the pleasure quarters would ever see. So that had settled everything, they thought; Ayame would go to the samurai, who would enjoy a single night of pleasure with her before sending her home, a true woman and a true geisha. After this night, her patron would have nothing to do with her, and she would begin her career seeking new clients to entertain, men who would listen to her sing and watch her graceful dance, men who would sit and converse cordially with her over tea and invite her to wonderful local events.
So why was there still a deep, cold pit of dread in her stomach?
Her big sister took a moment to make a tiny correction to Ayame’s long, silky hair, and then produced a new kanzashi hair ornament from within the folds of her sleeves with a smile.
“Onee-san!” Ayame gasped. “It is beautiful!”
Her sister’s gift was indeed the most lovely decoration the young maiko had set eyes on. An elegant arrangement of white and silver dewdrops, like tiny, tinkling beads of snow and rain. Her sister smiled happily as she reached up to arrange it in Ayame’s hair, delicately taking care to leave the careful style undisturbed. When Ayame looked in the mirror, tears filled her eyes.
“Onee-san,” she murmured. “I am… so pretty!”
“Of course you are, silly,” her sister said. “That is why the samurai has offered so much for the chance of a night with you!”
And suddenly, Ayame realized why that lingering feeling of heavy iron persisted in her belly still.
The daimyo, who scared her so deeply, whose very voice whispering in her ear sent tremors of pain down her back and made her tremble with fear, had not bid for her mizuage, no… and her big sister may have inadvertently stumbled on why, after so many promises, the man had mysteriously failed to win her. Because a maiko’s patron—the man who claimed her virginity and made her geisha at last—was expected to enjoy only one night with her. After the ceremony was over, that man was meant to have no more contact with her, throughout the entirety of her career.
If Daimyo Gohachiro had been the one to claim her tonight, tonight would have been all he ever had.
Since he had not, he was free to pursue her still, once first blood was shed.
She was carried in a kago litter across the pleasure quarters and into the main city of Edo, heading towards the domicile of the samurai. The rain still fell with almost buoyant glee, a shower teasing and delighting in the people of Edo, not light enough to be shrugged off but not yet a storm to be feared. She shrunk down in the fabric of her little suspended basket, shivering under the silk of her kimono, and wondering what awaited her.
Ayame tried not to think any longer on Daimyo Gohachiro or his strange, intimidating ways. Surely he had not forgone a bid on her mizuage in order to ensure he could continue to haunt her much longer; such a thought was perilously ridiculous. The man was a noble daimyo, for that matter, an esteemed servant of the shogunate and an honorable warrior—why should she find him so frightening at all? Had he ever done anything to harm her or even insinuate he would harm her? Why was she terrified at the thought of him?
He has, her rebellious mind fluttered. He has promised it, little maiko. He has reveled in the thought of your pain.
“Do not be ridiculous,” she scolded herself, though it was pointless to try and deny the thought now. The daimyo had insinuated such things, but it was nothing, truly. It was flirting. Exceptionally inappropriate flirting, particularly disturbing flirting… but it was not threats.
How I’d like to taste your little throat…
Little Ayame-chan, I would relish the chance to devour your body, all of you, even your fingers and toes.
You are like a rare delicacy. I would savor your flesh in my bed forever…
She brushed away these thoughts with a brusque shake of her head. Instead, she focused instead on all the things her onee-san had said to her about the mizuage ceremony.
“It will hurt,” she recited to herself very quietly, like a litany. “There may be blood, but it is common. Do not be afraid of him when he shows you his mighty staff.”
That last part would normally make her giggle. Her onee-san had a habit of resorting to terribly laughable epithets when she was trying to be facetious. But this time it brought no smile to her face—she wondered how long it would be until they reached the samurai’s domicile. How far had they traveled, anyway?
The night was exceptionally dark, and that made her even more nervous. She realized she had never met Daimyo Gohachiro in the light of day—always he appeared after the sun had set, striding through the shadows to surprise them at the tea houses, the theaters, the festivals they attended. This darkness made her even more nervous; the man himself might materialize out of it at any second, like the very devils of the worlds beyond.
“Stop it, Ayame!” she hissed. One of the men carrying her shouted out to the others, and though she could not make out the words over the sound of the rain, she knew very well what it meant.
They had arrived.
The samurai’s home was opulent and overwhelming—she could not help but think that he was a man eager to make everyone aware of his wealth and status. She herself was merely another adornment for that goal; perhaps it was not such a bad thing that he would not have the chance to request her again after the mizuage ceremony was over.
She was instructed to wait in one of the sitting rooms while a servant went to inform the samurai. Inside, warm in the well-lit room with lamps burning brightly on all sides, the phantoms of her troublesome imagination finally sifted away. She came to think for the first time about what was going to happen to her here.
She’d met the samurai many times before, with her onee-san. She had been surprised that he would make a bid for her virtue, but not at all disappointed: he was a very handsome man, still young and very engaging, even if he was determined to prove himself with great evidences of his wealth. She had not until this moment really realized she was about to lay down with him, to open herself up and let him satisfy himself on her body, but even as the truth of the matter hit her she found it actually served to ease some of her fear.
The other patrons who had bid for her mizuage were all older lords and nobleman, all of them married, presumptuous peacocks and some of them with their families right here in Edo, families she might see in the streets. This man was attractive, still a bachelor and openly welcoming, even mischievous in his flirting—his whole demeanor was like a lithe and powerful beast. Finally thinking about him instead of the elusive and menacing daimyo, Ayame found she was surprisingly excited. A blush rose to her cheeks, and she found herself wondering exactly what lay in store for her in the samurai’s bedchamber.
The servant was taking quite some time to alert the lord to her presence. She glanced back towards the hall where she had been admitted, and then towards the rear of the house where she presumed she would soon be led. She remembered suddenly how much she liked the samurai’s hair, hair he wore long in unruly defiance—this thought led her to his strong but delicate face, his elfin features and his somber expression. She let her imagination wander, turning in place as she did to admire the sitting room, finding herself fantasizing eagerly. After several more long moments, though, she poked her head back out into the hall, wondering where the servant had gone.
“Hello?” she called down the hallway. There was no answer—for the first time it occurred to her that the samurai ought to have more servants milling about, for a man who loved reminders of his power. She shuffled into the hall and quietly began to search.
The house was silent, except for the sounds of the rain tapping in playful glee against the roof and the screens. She passed one room containing the samurai’s armor, and paused to admire it from the doorway, when a sound in another room caught her attention.
“Hello?” she said again. “Samurai?”
The sound had come from a dark doorway at the back of the domicile. There was a single light glowing in the shadows: drawn by her curiosity, she entered to find it was the sleeping quarters—a cold draft made the single candle on the table opposite the door flicker, and when she turned she saw the screens to the gardens outside had been left open.
“Oh,” she marveled, stepping towards the doorway to look out onto the grounds. The samurai’s rooms opened onto a porch with a roof overhead, shielding his room from the worst of the rain—just beyond the porch was a glorious koi pond covered in brightly blooming orchids and lotus flowers, bobbing and dancing in the rain. The sight of the rippling water, the bobbing leaves and petals, was like poetry—she beamed at the sight, clasping her hands together over her heart with joy.
The screen to the hallway slid shut behind her and she spun, giving a little squeak of surprise. As she did, the candle guttered and went out: she caught just a glimpse of a tall figure standing beside the door before all went dark again.
Ayame dropped into a bow. “I am so sorry, honorable lord. I was looking for my patron and the light brought me here—the gardens are most enchanting and I simply had to admire them!”
There was no answer. She heard the figure shuffling past her, never touching her, and then he slid shut the screens leading out to the gardens. A brief flicker of shame went through her mind—was he angry at her for intruding on his private chambers?
“Please forgive me, most honorable master,” she said quietly. “I should have waited for you as I was instructed.”
Still nothing from the samurai. Silently he came closer to her, and she felt his strong hand trace along the curve of her back, sending a not-unpleasant little shiver down her spine. His fingers closed gently around her shoulder, and he pulled her to her feet.
“Samurai—” she whispered, but he silenced her with a finger to her lips. Still she could not tell if he was angry with her; the answer came when he pressed his soft, damp lips against hers, a kiss very delicate yet very firm—he tasted like salt and spice, his mouth warm and wet. A low rumble escaped his throat as his hands followed the folds of her kimono down, gently teasing her as he toyed with the silk.
He backed away then, and circled her slowly, tracing one finger along her collarbone and up to the back of her neck. Ayame closed her eyes in dawning wonder as the first flush sensation kindled in her belly—his touch was so light it brought a wicked little thrill to her flesh; again she was imagining the shape of his face and the bold depths of his eyes, her mind taking her down the contours of his lean soldier’s body, to the flat plane of his stomach and the dark thatch of hair that covered the eager shaft that would claim her virtue.
“Oh,” she murmured as his hands came up, expertly unpinning her hair and letting it tumble unruly to her shoulders—she thought onee-san might be scandalized at such a thing, undoing the careful arrangement it had taken hours to perfect, letting her brand new kanzashi tumble to the floor in chiming helplessness. It sent a heated thrill through young Ayame’s flesh, though, and she let a little moan escape her as the samurai pressed his face into the long, black curtain, nuzzling it, inhaling the clean scent of it. His hands went to the collar of her kimono and he silently slipped it down her shoulders; she shrugged it off, letting it slide down to her hips.
“Honorable master,” she whispered—her heart was already beating faster in her chest, pounding with eager excitement. “Is this… how we are meant to proceed?”
A low, husky laugh escaped him, but still he said nothing. She thought of what her onee-san had told her of this ceremony, how it was to progress—it was nothing like this, the wild passion that was igniting in her as his hands traveled down her bare arms, lightly brushing her skin just enough to send a thrill of arousal through her body.
His lips were on her neck; his hands slipped down to her hips and then back up to her chest, slipping the kimono to the floor and taking her young breasts in his palms. His skin was cool from waiting for her in a room open to the rain, and again she gasped at the sensation of his palms cupping her tender bosoms. Her nipples were already pert and erect—she knew in the darkness she was blushing considerably, embarrassed by the eager response of her body. Underneath the thin cotton undergarments that covered her sex, she was aware of the wetness that had already begun to dew upon the silky thatch of her hair.
He kissed her throat, taking a long, slow time of it, lavishing attention on her nape as his hands gently caressed her breasts, his thumbs lightly rolling over her stiffened little peaks, gently pinching them between his fingers. Ayame let a little moan escape her—when he exhaled upon her neck, it cooled the places of his kisses, thrilling her with each little breath. She thought she might melt down in his hands if he continued this slow, seductive teasing too long—without knowing she did it, one delicate hand slipped beneath the folds of her undergarment, and her long, slender fingers began gently kneading the soft mound of her womanhood, stoking the fires he had kindled there.
She could feel his firm, adamant erection through the fabric of his hakama pants: it felt heavy and large, bigger than she had imagined, sparking a tiny but excited panic as it nudged against her slender back.
The samurai’s hands came once more to her shoulders and he turned her to face him; in the darkness he was kissing her again, eagerly, hungrily. His tongue slipped past her lips to tangle with her own, as he reached around to press her closer against him—she felt the bare flesh of his chest underneath the open silk of his kimono; the weight of his shaft pressed against her small belly and she gave a little squeak of surprise. Without thinking, she slipped her hands underneath his hakama and found the rigid organ, stroking it with passionate amazement.
She was shocked to find his pubic region was naked and smooth—what vanity this samurai must have had, so concerned with fashion! It only made her giggle as she ran her hands up and down his beautiful shaft, adoring the feel of his pliant flesh in her hands.
“You are cold,” she said. “It is only what you deserve for lying in wait for me with your screens flung open to the storm! Shall I find a way to warm your flesh, honorable patron?”
Again, his only reply was the low, husky sound of his laugh. He ducked down to lift her into his arms, carrying her gently across the room and lying her down on one of the sleeping mats. Leaning over her body, he kissed her lips, then moved down her neck again, tasting her skin from earlobe to collar. Suddenly, his kiss became a playful little nip against her flesh—she gasped at the feel of his teeth and he paused.
She lifted her hand to cradle his head against her, making a small sound of encouragement—she had liked the sensation.
The samurai kissed her again, gently at first; after several fluttering moments she felt his teeth close firmly on her again, and this time he bit down a little harder, sending thrilling pain down her throat—she let out a little peal of joy, and almost instantly the pain became pleasure, warm arousal blooming under his touch and stirring her deeper into lust. He kissed her again, running his tongue lovingly over the marks of his teeth, licking before nipping again and continuing the teasing foreplay as she moaned beneath him.
His kisses moved to her collar and then to her breasts, taking her flush nipple into his mouth and nipping it, too, sending a brief, teasing pain through her chest.
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “Yes, I like that!”
His mouth worked, lightly sucking the little bud, rolling the tip of his tongue over it, teasing it while his hand closed over her other breast, caressing it before moving his mouth to share his attentions equally. Ayame slipped her hands into his hair, running her fingers through it lovingly as she moaned.
He licked the rigid pink peaks with relish, grunting happily as he alternated from one breast to the other, kissing, sucking, occasionally closing his teeth around their eager, throbbing nubs. Soon she was panting and hot with arousal, her nipples swollen and tender with pleasure, her flesh wet with his warm saliva.
He continued his exploration of her body, moving his mouth from her nipples to her small belly, kissing a line down to her navel as his hand slipped under the thin cotton of her undergarment. Two fingers slipped over the stiff head of her little pink bead, gently rolling it between them, eliciting a deep, intoxicated moan from her. He rubbed his hand in slow, tiny circles over the silky thatch of her hair, before withdrawing his hand and carefully stripping the cloth away. Now she lay utterly naked beneath him in the dark, and to her dizzying wonder he sunk his head between her thighs, letting his tongue explore the folds of her delicate pink sex.
“Oh!” she cried, a little more loudly than she probably should have. “Oh, honorable lord, what are you doing? That is—that is—ah!”
He silenced her with a single flick of his tongue into her wet, quivering sex. She forgot her protests as exhilarating joy, like fire and honey, caught light under his adoring affections and made her light-headed with lustful delight. His tongue lightly tickled up and down her inner folds, tracing them to the little bead that he honored with gentle kisses, closing his mouth around it and sucking till she thought she might scream from pleasure, circling its swollen tip with his tongue and tickling it until she writhed uncontrollably beneath him.
“Please!” she begged him. “No more, I cannot stand it!”
He laughed again, and dipped his tongue once more into her throbbing entrance, shocking her with quick delight before he returned his mouth to the head of her clitoris—as he resumed his loving sucking, she felt two large fingers slip into her body, almost painful as they thrust into the tight, virgin folds of her sex.
“Ai!” she cried, gritting her teeth—onee-san had of course warned her it would hurt, at first. The samurai warmed her with his fingers, sliding them slowly in and out of her, prodding her flesh to relax and open to him. She was astounded by the wetness gathering on her thighs, feeling sinful and shameful and all the same so very good, all throughout her core. The samurai quickened his rhythm, renewing the pain as her body resisted his invasion, but even though it hurt a little still, underneath the stubborn rigidity of her muscles she already felt the oncoming wave of pleasure that thundered towards her, like the pounding hoof-beats of many horses stampeding through her body.
Her breath caught in her throat as the mingled joy and sting of her first climax raced to its full, her body quivering in ecstasy as she dug her fingers into the samurai’s hair. His fingers were replaced by his tongue slipping into her quaking inner sex, lapping up the wetness there and kissing, sucking her tender fleshas she orgasmed beneath him. She tried to stifle the sounds of pleasure that threatened to escape her, embarrassed and euphoric all at once.
“I am sorry,” she panted when the sensation had passed. “I did not mean to… to forget myself so shamefully—”
Again he chuckled, charmed by her as he continued to lav the soft lips of her sex, her dampened thighs. His fingers slipped down lower, kneading the flesh of her perineum, just below her unfolding womanhood, and she tried to wriggle away.
“What are you doing?” she whispered—onee-san had said nothing about any of this! The thrilling tingle of climax lingered beneath her flesh as he massaged it, teasing her with the slow, deepening pressure of his fingers, tempting closer and closer to the tight, quivering flesh of her second hole.
“No!” she protested, pushing with gentle urgency as he teased her. “No, please do not, that is—oh…”
She shivered as one finger pressed deep against her, at the same time his tongue slowly licked the entire length of her cleft. She could form no more words, and instead lay her head back on the pillows beneath her, moaning with delight.
She felt him teasing her with nipping bites again, nibbling lightly with his teeth up and down her sweet folds. He bit down once, hard, and she gave a little shriek of joy; again, instantly, a wave of pleasure followed, numbing the pain and filling her with warm, suffusing bliss. He licked her affectionately, kissing the site of the pain with lavish attention as she sighed happily.
The samurai finally brought his wicked torment to a close, and moved his way back up her body. In the darkness she reached for him, stroking her pale hands down his neck and shoulders, slipping them under the folds of the kimono he still wore, eager to strip it away. She felt him moving to oblige her, undressing, and finally he laid the whole length of his strong, naked body against her. His flesh was still cool as she ran her hands down his naked chest; his flat, muscled belly pressed against the soft curves of her own. He held his urgent, throbbing shaft in one hand and she slipped hers down to feel it for herself again, closing her eyes in pleasure as she felt the smooth flesh of his foreskin withdrawing from the dewy wet head.
With a daring giggle, she slid her hand further down and found the soft skin of his testicles, weighing them in her hands, all manner of naughty thoughts running through her mind. She stroked her fingers along the seam of his flesh, tickling him before closing her hand around his burgeoning penis again.
“Please,” she whispered, her lips inches from his own. “I want you to make me a woman, honorable master.”
He let out a heavy, satisfied sigh. One large, strong hand stroked her body from breast to thigh, and then he gently took his shaft from her hands. Tracing it down her body like an artist tracing his paintbrush along the canvas, slowly he brought the slick head to rest against her wet, ready entrance. She caught her breath and held it, rigid with anticipation—with one smooth, forceful stroke, he slid into her.
The first, sharp pain of his invasion was terribly abrupt, and she cried out in surprise and anguish—fresh, warm wetness bloomed between her thighs and she realized she was bleeding, just as onee-san had said she might. She struggled without thinking to push the samurai away, but he strengthened his grip on her, and—as though the sound of her pain and the sudden rush of blood excited him—he quickened his rhythm, thrusting again with a quiet growl of enjoyment.
“Oh,” she moaned underneath him, her hands falling to the quilts and tangling in the fabric—the pain was fading quickly and all that was left was the solid, gratifying sensation of his body joining with hers. He withdrew and then slid in again, masterful and powerful in his strokes; she felt faint with the overflowing pleasure of him inside of her, each new thrust easing the tightness of her virgin flesh and satisfying the deep, lonely yearning she had long associated with the untouched chastity he now released her from. Her body ached for the fulfillment he promised with his wonderful affections, and she lifted her hips to open more for him, delighting in each new spark of pleasure he elicited in her body.
She lifted her hands to twine them in his hair, but he caught them instead and pinned her wrists against the quilts, plunging deeper as he held her down. His mouth came down onto her swollen, tender breasts and he sucked her throbbing nipples hungrily, even painfully, as he thrust; she felt his teeth again, closing on her aching nub, and she moaned loudly, shamelessly as it sent a mix of bliss and pain pouring through her.
“Oh, yes,” she whispered at him, pressing her breasts closer to him, raising her hips to meet his masterful thrusts. “Oh, honorable samurai… forgive me for being so bold… but I did not imagine this night would be so beautiful—”
Her praise was cut off as he laughed out loud against her skin; his hungry rhythm intensified, and he lifted himself up to bear down on her even more deeply, pleasuring her to the core with his thick endowment. He held her down by the wrists and she arched her back with a loud moan of delight, straining against his unyielding hold. As he quickened his thrusts she desperately rose to meet him, taking every glorious inch of him with lustful glee, savoring each wonderful stroke as he delved inside of her again and again.
He grunted, changing his rhythm once more, this time slowing just a little and intensifying the strength of his thrusts, plunging himself to the hilt once—twice—thrice, and suddenly she felt him bursting inside of her; each thrilling surge of his orgasm throbbed against her tight, tingling muscles and sent tiny shocks of joy through her. He held himself there, buried in her hot, wet flesh long after the last of his climax was over. She felt his seed running out around his heavy shaft, down her excited skin and dampening the quilts beneath them. Then, to her surprise he thrust twice more, a little more slowly but just as hard; she gasped as her body suddenly swelled into a second swift, joyful climax, shivering as a renewed wave of ecstasy flooded her core.
“Oh,” she muttered one last time. “Oh, honorable lord… arigato, my dearest samurai…arigato…”
“It does not have to be over, my darling Ayame,” came a muttered voice in the darkness. She went cold with dread—it was not the samurai’s voice. Terror bled through her bones as the man laughed again, lowering his face to her throat and dragging his tongue along the site of the bite he had given her earlier.
“Ah, Ayame,” he whispered in her ear. “You taste even better than I imagined you would.”
“Daimyo Gohachiro,” she gasped breathlessly. “How—what have you—”
He started laughing, a cold and terrible sound. She struggled underneath him—he still pinned her down by the wrists and his strength was untouchable, an iron grip that she could not imagine any man could have.
She screamed in terror, horrified at his unthinkable deception, throwing herself helplessly side-to-side underneath him. His laugher grew stronger and he lunged down: she felt his teeth sink into her throat again, and she shrieked in fear, calling desperately for help. Blood flowed from the wound under his mouth and she lifted both legs to kick at him, blind in her panic.
Suddenly he released her wrists and rolled away from her, still laughing as he let her go. She scrambled to gather the quilt around herself and made for the door, throwing back the screen so hard she wrenched it from its moorings as she ran.
“Help me!” she screamed, racing blindly down the hall. “Somebody please—he has tricked me! Help!”
No answer, anywhere. She paused at the doorway to the nearest room and thrust her head in, searching for a servant, for anyone. Her heart practically stopped at the sight that greeted her.
Three of the house servants lay on the floor, bloodied and discarded like unwanted dolls; each of them had their throats opened up, ravaged into nests of gore—each of them had died with a look of utter terror on their face.
Stammering, staggering, she backed away from the scene. He was behind her; she bumped into him and she felt a second leap of cold panic rush through her veins—spinning, she tried to duck down the hall but he grabbed her by the arms, holding her.
“My lovely Ayame,” he purred—now in the light she could see him clearly, not the smooth-faced, elfin-featured fighter she had been seeing in her mind but the broad, predatory grin of a madman, his mouth stained with blood—her blood—his black, featureless eyes sparkling with mischievous glee.
“By the ancestors,” she muttered breathlessly, so low she could barely be heard. His red, violent grin bared sharp, vicious teeth: his canines were like the sharp fangs of a vicious dog. How had she not felt them piercing her skin?
He leaned in close to her, nuzzling his face against her still-bleeding throat and inhaling the scent of her with obscene, lascivious joy. She screamed again, falling into tears, as he pressed her back against the wall and lapped at the wound he had left, savoring the blood.
She could see into the room over his shoulder—it was the room with the samurai’s armor. It had been empty of people when she’d glanced into it before: now the samurai himself lay broken on the floor, his body covered in savage gashes, his blood pooling out around his twisted corpse.
She sobbed against Gohachiro’s unyielding body, pressing her hands uselessly against his chest, begging him for mercy.
“Please,” she wept. “Please, Gohachiro-san, let me go…”
“Oh, no, my sweet Ayame-chan,” he muttered against her neck; with creeping dread she realized he was still entirely naked, and a renewed erection pressed against her through the quilts she clung so desperately to.
“You liked what I did to you tonight,” he murmured, leaning closer. “The way you moaned, the way you moved your perfect little body against me… and I can taste it in your blood, my little one.”
He made another slow, torturous exploration with his tongue against her bloodied neck. She squeezed her eyes shut and trembled with renewed sobs, realizing he had bitten her over and over during their lovemaking—realizing he had drunk from her neck, her breasts… even her virgin sex, he had been licking up the blood of her broken maidenhead, he had been savoring it while he seduced her!
A wave of nausea soured in her gut; she gave a mournful groan and sagged beneath him, wanting to sink to her knees. He held her up though, pulling the quilts away from her so he could look upon her nakedness again—her whole body was smeared in blood, her own as well as that of the servants and the samurai he had killed—it had been their blood on his lips when he kissed her, that salty and spicy taste had been the taste of murder. She crossed her arms over her flesh, muttering denial to herself over and over—it was impossible!
The daimyo chuckled, and raised one hand up to his chest. She saw he had reclaimed her kanzashi hairpin from the floor where he had tossed it aside—taking the sharp end, he raked a bloody line across his own breast, letting the ruby fluid of his own wound drip down the cold, ivory flesh.
“Come here, my beautiful pet,” he crooned, pulling her close to him. “Kiss me… drink from me… and you will forget all of this.”
She shook her head, unable to find words, wildly panicked. All around her were the corpses of the samurai and his household—the daimyo had been murdering them all while she naively wandered through the house, while she blindly admired the gardens he had cast their dead bodies on the floor, thrown the samurai himself down only moments after she herself had passed by that very room!
“Come now,” he said again, guiding her closer to him. “Drink, Ayame-chan… drink, and sleep… and forget.”
“No,” she begged him. “No, please… demon, please, let me go…”
“I will let you go,” he said sweetly. “You will be free. Just drink, and this will all be forgotten.”
Tears streamed down her face; she trembled, cold throughout with blind, helpless terror. She wanted to be back at the okiya—she wanted to be back with onee-san, free of this madness, innocent of these horrible, indescribable acts.
“Drink, Ayame,” the daimyo crooned. He pressed her cheek against his cold, ivory flesh—her lips brushed his chest, and the icy wetness of his blood.
“Drink. Sleep. Forget.”
Sobbing, she relaxed against him, giving in. She pressed her mouth to the wound and drank the blood that he offered—it was heavy and strong, like powerful habushu—the liqueur distilled with a pit viper drowned in its bottle. She flinched, whimpering against him, suckling at the breast of a heinous spirit, a devil of hell cradling her against him with chilling fondness.
Presently, the liqueur took hold; Ayame sunk into an eager, blissfully oblivious sleep.
She would never awake to the world of sunlight, the world of the living, again.