The Tower of Ekhart by Orin Drake
It's... something, alright.

        It had taken all evening just to get there.  Dodging in and out of corridors to get out, and even then the amount of patience it took to weave her way in and out of the guardians.  The allies and gang streets were the easy part.  They rarely touched her.  Even when they did, she could handle it.  Or, sometimes better, she'd leave them marked.  Then they'd meet a fit end, to put it lightly.
        Ducking into the familiar doorway, she slowly descended the ladder.  She didn't even need light anymore, keeping her eyes closed even from the faint stars.  She knew where she was going, and she could get there by touch alone.  A hop here and a sideways dash there, all things dangerous or improper were avoided.  No one else came down here.  No one else had this fortune that she did.
        At last, her destination.  She opened her eyes only then and sat squarely on the cool cement.  Waiting.  Watching.  Listening to the dankness and the sounds of water and creatures that were unkillable.  The smell was little more than unpleasant, but that was alright.  It was familiar.
        Finally, the movement.  A creature loomed slick from the shadows and toward her, settling itself right in front of her.  Anyone else would see a sickly beggar boy so filthy that the missing flesh could not even be interpreted.  She, thankfully, saw him for what he was and smiled.
        "It's good to see you again."  He matched her smile warmly, pulling the jet black sunglasses from his face.  Underneath was a wealth of glowing blue from two metal-edged eye sockets.
        "I wasn't sure I'd get away tonight, either."  She admitted quietly.  "The Tower hasn't turned in days."
        He nodded, understanding.  "That's a danger, yes.  And how does the Duke of Eckhart do?"
        She laughed at the use of their nickname for him.  "The same, I'm afraid."
        He looked her over for a moment, inspecting the damage.  "But you are better now?"
        "Yes."  She rubbed the back of her neck a little nervously.  "He had company and no time."
        "He asks of me?" the boy spread his arms to welcome her.
        She smiled and leaned into the embrace gratefully, letting herself relax in his arms.  "Every day."
        He waited until she was comfortable, her breathing stilled and her heart beat slowly.  When all was in order, the spine in his forearm extended and he pierced her flesh down to the rib to gather the marrow.
        She flinched, but only slightly.  His comfort alone took away the pain.  It was not at all like Eckhart.  She felt the spine retract slowly to take in blood before being pulled completely away from her, the hole in her flesh sealed with a tiny jet of bioadhesive.
        "And you are working?" he questioned, leaning her back just a bit.
        "I can lift much more now."  She admitted modestly.  "And I can run further."
        "Perfect."  He purred, tilting his head for a kiss.
        She leaned in and accepted, pressing her lips to his and opening her mouth slightly.  She swallowed the familiar concoction he injected quickly, the bitter taste never settling well in her stomach but far less so on her tongue.  Digestion was merely the easiest process to do this by, they'd found.  A straight injection made her far too weak--stomach acid helped to take away the initial jolt.
        "Be careful now."  He warned, pulling away from her slowly.  "I need you alive."
        "I know."  She whispered, smiling despite the taste in her mouth.  "I'll be back when I can."
        "Will he catch you, do you think?" the boy asked gingerly, a worried expression overcoming the features that glowed blue against perfect darkness.
        "Probably."  She admitted.  "But it's... it's easier now.  Really."
        There was nothing more he could do for her, and he let the subject slip away.  "I will see you soon."
        She nodded quickly, waved a quick good-bye, and bounded off in the memorized darkness.  There was still a chance she wouldn't get caught out of the Tower if she hurried.
        The boy sighed quietly to himself, replacing the sunglasses.  Stronger, she was.  But that bastard would catch on soon enough, assuming he hadn't already.  She was in danger... but this was the best they could do for one another.
Content copyright Orin Drake 2011.
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