“Regarding Koescu” by Penelope Flynn

“Regarding Koescu” excerpt from “The Renfields” by Penelope Flynn


Koescu sat straight up in the bed waking in a cold sweat. His heart thumped hard in his chest, but he was grateful to have been delivered from the horror of his dream, his nightmare. But to whom or what did he owe his gratitude? Something had awakened him… a noise… no… a smell. His nostrils were roused by a scent that was heady and sublime. It was exquisite… intoxicating. He had vaulted from the bed and to his feet nearly in the center of the room even before he was aware of it. His senses were sharper than they had been in over two hundred years. He was drawn to the sound of running water from the bathroom. For as long as he could remember his staff had always made it a point to silently draw his bath in the morning. This was the first occasion he had ever recalled having been awakened and hearing the nearly soundless trickle of the water running in the bath. He moved toward the area from where the sound and scent were strongest and was surprised to find his House Manager, Gertrudis leaning over the edge of the tub washing the wide basin, preparing it for his morning rituals. He watched as she moved slowly, painfully. He could smell the wounds from her eighteen lashes. They were still raw and open, and being irritated by the fabric of her uniform. The blood sense, the perfume of blood vented in small and moderate quantity enveloped his body activating all his senses in the same manner that a fine vintage wine’s bouquet enticed the Paradoxan nose.

He looked up to the right and was surprised… but not too much, by the image of himself in the reflector. He didn’t have to touch the vertically hanging water to know that he had again metamorphosed. The powerfully built man who for all the world looked to be in his early thirties with flowing locks of strawberry blonde hair was the man he had always been on the inside… and now after so many centuries here he was again. But this, in and of itself, did not marvel him… not at the moment. At that moment all of his senses were being guided by the erection nearly as thick as his wrist, throbbing and brushing against his abdomen. The fleams that had engaged even prior to him leaving the bed were sharp and bared to their full length. He salivated and his talons emerged as he stood less than a foot behind the tantalizing Gertrudis. He credited himself with managing to hang onto some semblance of self-control as her blood and curves beckoned.

“Gertrudis,” he said calmly, successfully negotiating his tongue around his bared fleams, “You appear to be in distress. What can I do to assist you?”

Gertrudis turned to reply but was struck speechless confronted with the now youthful form of the formerly decrepit Koescu.

She sniffed the air around her and took a deep inhalation in his direction then asked incredulous “M-Most Eminent Koescu?”

“With some changes, yes,” Koescu smiled.

“B-But how?” she stammered still in the grip of amazement.

“We will explore the means in due time. But for now we should address your dilemma…. Come,” he said extending his hand.

Gertrudis accepted the offered hand and stood on shaky legs.

“Under the circumstances, I am certain that you must be very uncomfortable in this uniform,” he said as he guided her toward the bed.

“Oh no, no Majhones. I am fine,” she protested as the large four-poster bed came into view.

“Gertrudis,” Koescu said firmly, “It is clear that you are still injured. I realize that your Renfield managers have made you feel that they are in charge here, but they are not. It is their mischief that has caused this change in me and this harm to you.”

“Most Eminent, I am quite fine,” Gertrudis said, “It will only take me a few moments more to complete the bath.”

“You must allow me to help you, Gertrudis,” Koescu pleaded as he gripped her gently by the shoulders, “I understand your trepidation but I beg you to have faith that going forward I can and will protect you from their barbarous whims.”

The expression on her face confirmed her reluctance, but Gertrudis yielded to Koescu’s request and slowly sat down on the bench near the foot of the bed.

“Ahem,” Gertrudis coughed and turned her head as her positioning placed his semi-erect member squarely in her field of vision.

“A crimson blush crept over his face as he hurriedly retrieved and donned his dressing gown which overnight had become almost painfully snug around the biceps, chest and shoulders.

“I would like to examine the wounds,” he said.

“They are not easily accessible Most Eminent Koescu… I would have to disrobe.” 

“Very well, then,” he replied folding his arms across his chest.

Koescu focused on his breathing and on controlling the beating of his heart as Gertrudis efficiently unbuttoned her uniform and peeled the garment down to her waist. The silence in the room was deafening as Koescu viewed Isaac’s handiwork. Gertrudis wore no brassiere. He knew that the lack of the undergarment was not wantonness. He couldn’t imagine that she could have worn one in her condition. The pain would have been unbearable over the eighteen bright red ribbons, a sworn testament to Isaac’s expertise with the lash. Recalling the cruel spectacle and Sebastian’s orchestration of it all, Koescu’s fury was only eclipsed by his stirring bloodlust.

“I-I am so, so sorry Gertrudis,” Koescu lamented, “This is my fault. I should have stood up to him, to both of them.”

“If there is fault Most Eminent Koescu,” Gertrudis responded, “then according to

Renfield protocols the fault was mine. I accept that.”

“Dear Gertrudis, we can sit ‘til nightfall attempting to assess blame and it will still not heal your wounds,” Koescu said firmly, “You should let me help you. The punishment was administered by my blood. I should, therefore by my blood be able to heal the wounds.”

“You forget, Most Eminent Koescu… the blood of my punishment was infused with rose petals—”

“—I know, to keep the wounds fresh—”

“—And to keep an overzealous Majhones from imprudently unwinding a properly sentenced punishment.”

“So that was their game?” Koescu knit his brow in anger, “They believe that this stunt will stem my resolve? If they believe that I will not minister to you simply to avoid a modicum of pain, they are both sadly mistaken.”

“Dear, Most Eminent Koescu,” Gertrudis replied, “That you would even consider such an act to relieve my suffering is salve enough. Believe me. I will be fine. In my lifetime I have withstood worse.”

“I will relieve your pain. These rose petals are but a trifle,” Koescu snorted. 

“Believe me, they are not. Were a Paradoxan Revenant to attempt what you are suggesting, the pain would be intense, but for you… a child of Abyssia; coming into contact with the rose-infused blood would be a torment of unthinkable measure. Leave this as it is, Most Eminent. The punishment was just. I will endure.”

“No,” Koescu said firmly gripping her by the shoulder, urging her to stand and then turning her to face the bed.

He leaned her forward declaring, “The Praefect and the Regent may manage all Renfield affairs, but I am still Majhones of this household. By my order, by my blood you are to remain still until I have tended to all these wounds. Am I understood?”

“Yes, Most Eminent Koescu,” she answered just barely over a whisper.

Koescu examined her back. Eighteen individual ribbons of red, eighteen times his tongue would be required to run from shoulders to rump. That didn’t seem an insurmountable task, however even as he leaned forward to begin, the burning, acrid scent of roses wafted upward to singe his nostrils, threatening to suffocate him. At a distance the only thing his hungry senses could appreciate was the blood. But close to the wounds the rose scent was overpowering. He drew back sharply, turning his head to inhale over his shoulder then a second time moved into position to begin the healing process.

He began as close to the center as he could determine, raked his tongue over his left fleam drawing blood then instantly held his breath and delivered a long measured lick from the tail end of the mark near her spine up to the area near her neck. He didn’t want to think about the stinging as he quickly ran his tongue back downward catching the stripe that ran to the left of the one where he began. Again he raked his tongue over the left fleam then ran his tongue upward. It seemed that the change in direction set off a new more intense level of discomfort and he gasped in pain as he completed the fourth stripe. By the time he had addressed stripe number six, his lips and tongue had begun to blister. He refused to consider the fact that he was only one-third of the way through the process. When he arrived at the ninth stripe he worried that his tongue would not be able to produce sufficient blood to continue. Additionally, he realized that he had made a mistake by swallowing between applications and now the rose infusion was burning its way down his throat doubtless scorching his entrails. But despite the broken blisters that covered his lips and tongue and the inflamed condition of the membranes in his mouth he persevered. A consistent stream of saliva ran from his mouth uncontrolled even as he arrived at the thirteenth mark on her back. 

The only positive element in the scenario was that Gertrudis, true to her disciplined training remained still. He wasn’t sure he would be able to continue if she moved even one inch, He could no longer feel his lips and in fact could only feel the rake of his teeth against her skin pushing the bloodied slaver he managed to produce, up and down her back. Fifteen. The pain was beyond excruciating. He wanted to quit. He had not listened to Gertrudis when she warned of the agonizing torment. At the fifteenth stripe, he realized that he should have. His tongue, or what was left of it was a blackened stump and it took all his self-control not to sob and cry out. Fifteen, he told himself was a perfectly good outcome. Gertrudis herself said that she was fine, that she could manage. She was far better off with three lashes from the whip instead of eighteen, he rationalized. She would be grateful, eternally grateful. But even as he attempted to convince himself, all he could see in his mind’s eye was the smug expression of Sebastian Forza leveling the indictment of failure against him.

He bit back his anger and pain and started the sixteenth stripe and then the seventeenth without stopping. Eighteen. By the time he reached number eighteen, his tears were flowing unabated. The pain had radiated to encompass his entire face, his mouth, his throat and his viscera. He wanted to scream but no sound could travel through a throat so raw and mangled. But the result was worth the pain. Not one wound across her back remained. The skin was smooth and perfect. He had prevailed.

With the completion of the task, Koescu staggered backward crashing onto the floor, his internal organs feeling as if they were being rent in pieces and simultaneously consumed by acid. When Gertrudis turned to address him, she was unable to hide her horror and she crammed the hem of her uniform into her mouth to hold back the vomit that threatened to spew and soil the floor.

“Most Eminent Koescu!” she cried, “What have you done?!” 

He turned to catch a glimpse of himself in the reflector, and despite the ravaged condition of his throat he screamed, he bellowed. Where only a half hour earlier a muscular handsome visage greeted him, at that moment a horrific mask of peeled away blistered lips, sallow eyes, and a blackened nub where a tongue had been were all reflected. His throat was shrunken and misshapen and his chest was black and green with boils the evidence of his swollen and blistered viscera desperately pushing outward, attempting to break the skin. 

Gertrudis rushed to the door of the suite and bolted it shut saying, “Most Eminent Koescu you must drink. You must slake this thirst, now!”

Unable to speak, Koescu reached out to Gertrudis psychically as he rose from the floor his body wracked with pain, I will not, his thoughts alone causing pain as he ground them out, I can bear the suffering, I will bear the suffering. SLAP! A harsh, heavy sting across his face knocked him back to his knees.

“You fool!” Gertrudis hissed standing over him with balled fists, “It is not your suffering that concerns me. What do you think will happen to me if anyone in the household should see you like this?! 

I – I was attempting to help, Koescu moaned through the psychic link.

“You were attempting to antagonize Sebastian,” she replied as she paced the floor, “and now look at you!”

I said what I meant, Koescu lamented, I will protect you from them.

“You think I am first and foremost worried about Sebastian and Yannara?” Gertrudis laughed hysterically, “They are the very last of my worries as there will be nothing left of me for Sebastian and Yannara to punish if anyone on the staff sees you like this!”

Gertrudis, do not worry, Koescu labored even in his thoughts, I will be fine.

“I know you will be fine, Most Eminent Koescu, because you will drink, and you will drink, now!” 


Koescu pushed away from his House Manager, raising his arms to hide the mass of charred, misshapen flesh and bone that was formerly his face, lying stubbornly through the link, I do not care to drink.

“The truth is, Most Eminent Koescu that since you witnessed my lashing at Isaac’s hands, without a doubt the thirst has occupied the majority of your thoughts,” Gertrudis said stepping toward him, gingerly, “And the row you had with Sebastian only momentarily slaked your thirst. You are in a terrible state of need, Majhones. Why do you not allow me to help you?”

Koescu collapsed onto the floor. He could no longer feel his feet. Searing pain radiated from everywhere in his body providing him a distinct sense of what the place Paradoxans called hell must be like. But even so, the continued presence of Gertrudis in his chambers coupled with the successful but painful healing rendered him a pointed, throbbing mass of need. And only the unbearable, soul scarring pain prevented him from attacking her, dragging her to the floor and endeavoring to drain her of nearly every vital fluid in her body.

“It does you no dishonor to admit it, Most Eminent Koescu,” Gertrudis said as she knelt beside him and gently raised his head, “Drink.”

Before Koescu could respond, Gertrudis’ fleams were engaged and piercing her wrist drawing blood. The sense of the vented blood, even in his deplorable state was intoxicating. He wanted to resist the urging but could no more deny the urge to slake the thirst than he could deny the admiration he held for his House Manager at that moment. He ravenously latched onto her wrist. He heard Gertrudis’ soft gasp as he drew back the first few draughts instantly calming the burning sensation in his mouth and chest. The next few bathed his bowels, and then his extremities. His skin, which had previously felt as if it was on fire began to cool. He could feel his face reshaping and reforming and his breathing again became smooth and even. His body ultimately relaxed and he fell satiated and smiling onto the floor.

“Come, Most Eminent Koescu, let me help you,” Gertrudis urged as she lifted him from his prone position and led him to the bed. Koescu rolled into the disheveled covers of the still unmade bed, not caring that his hair was fly-away and tangled or that his robe was open and askew. He found himself humming an old Abyssian tune nearly drunk with contentment. Even as he lay he could hear the birds singing outside his window; could smell the enormous varieties of plants that he had nurtured years long past but never truly enjoyed. He felt the motion of the bed as Gertrudis stood and prepared to continue her work. Without stirring from his relaxed position his arm shot out grabbing her by the wrist as he slurred, “I am lonely. Come lay with me, Gertrudis.”

“Your invitation is well-taken Majhones, but I must finish drawing your bath.”

“I am not up as yet. The bath will wait. Lay with me,” he said as he drew her back down onto the bed. An inordinately long silence followed, so much so that he wondered whether he had made his request aloud or just thought it. Then Gertrudis cleared her throat and remarked, absently, “Most Eminent, Koescu it appears that you are quite intoxicated by your drink and I believe… in danger of becoming… mischievous.”

“Mmm,” he growled contentedly not countenancing anymore of her words as he brusquely pulled her body down onto the bed beside him reveling in her softness as he began to doze. He marveled that he felt no pain, no pain at all… not even the daily pain he had become used to over the past hundred years. It was a miracle… miraculous… “Leviathan,” he sighed and slipped off into a deep sleep.

Penelope Flynn creates mixed genre adult-targeted speculative fiction and illustrations featuring elements of dark fiction, horror, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, and erotica and erotic romance. Her works are included in the Dark Universe anthologies, SteamfunkScierogenous II, and SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire. She authors the Sci-Fi/Horror/Erotica mash-up series, the Chronicles of Renfields, and co-edits and contributes to the Blerdrotica Black erotica anthology series. She is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association and has joined the faculty of the Speculative Fiction Academy. She has appeared on panels for World Fantasy Con, WorldCon, MultiverseCon, Blacktasticon and the FAMU Literary Forum. Penelope Flynn moderates and co-hosts the weekly podcast, Discussions From the OTHERhood and heads Prolific Hybrid Multimedia. https://www.penelopeflynn.com/


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