the pearl

The Study Of The Bloodstream

They grab him as he travels. Who notices the dropouts?


His lip is swollen to the size of a fucking baseball, and he doesn't think he'll be able to eat solids for a year. But that burn is so worth it, because he's in. All those rumours, all those stories, all those goddamned myths, they're all true, and he's right in the middle of them.

God, the feeling just hits him right in the stomach and even though it makes his lip burn like a bastard, he can't stop grinning.

Damaskinos smiles faintly, his thin fingers trailing through Scud's hair. "You will be special..." he whispers softly. "You are perfect."


The second the swelling drops down, Scud starts smoking again.


Counan hands him the files. "Before we can initiate the strategy, you must research what he has done before."

Scud flips through them, distractedly, occasionally turning over pictures. "So he's quite the killing machine, huh?"

Counan pauses briefly, as if repressing a sigh. "That could be said," he replies, his voice clipped. "Make no mistake, Mr. 'Scud'..." His voice drips disdain at the last word. "Blade is not simply one of many vampire killers. He is faster, stronger, meaner, and far more deadly than anything else out there." He touches the files. "Study them."

Scud looks down. "Who?"

"His victims."


Blade's biography bores Scud, and he tosses it within minutes.


The first file is on Blade's mother. Even without reading the file, Scud can see the resemblance. The same set to the jawline. The same poise and fluidity, like a snake.

But while Blade roils with tension, always about to lunge and strike, Vanessa Brooks is languid, resting, the cobra after the kill.

Scud takes one of the photos of Vanessa and sticks it on his wall. He occasionally looks at it, his eyes tracing over her body, focusing entirely upon the woman who spawned such a creature.

And then he laughs, and flicks his fingers against the fading photo.


Whistler momentarily keeps his interest, but only technologically. Scud's better.


His room becomes covered in files. Photos of corpses are plastered across one wall, piles of ash mixed with corpses, vampires and familiars chaotically laid out, crashing against each other in a pattern only Scud recognised. They mapped out the world, continents and cities sketched out in murder. Prague and Paris and London and Madrid and New York and Detroit and Seattle and Los Angeles and Tokyo and Moscow -- an endless cycle.

The pattern included one particular photo. Laid precisely against the wall and surrounded by white space, the photo of Deacon Frost consumed Scud's energy, focusing his attention.


Scud thinks he's hearing voices. But that's really not new.


Scud spends several months buried in the House of Erebus. The histories, the reports, the photographs of the final leaders, from the ghosts of the Ashe, to the warriors of the Von Esper, scatter across his existing collages of destruction.

Days and nights blur in fluorescent lights, Jolt cola, and pot. The world of science and facts fade in a haze as he reads of prophecies and elder gods.

The photos of Blade's victims come down, replaced by indecipherable texts and ancient carvings. There is one phrase echoing in his brain, and Deacon Frost smiles down on him.

La Magra.


Gods are ancient and terrifying. Scud knows nothing about either.


The original documents were lost, but there are still photos, sepia and white from the first days of photography, fuzzy and faded visions of prophecy and possibilities.

Scud traces the symbols, sketching onto onionskin-thin paper, scribbled notes cramped against the edges. Translations and cross-references and variations on the original symbols skitter across notebooks, building up a history that rivals the remnants of Deacon Frost's collection.

Once a week, Karel Counan takes away the notebooks and provides him with new ones. He spends exactly one hour observing Scud, noting what he says, what he does, and what he does not do.


If he had ever read Dracula, he would've been Renfield.


Damaskinos comes to him once a month to feed -- there is no schedule, no forewarning. Scud knows that Blade reaches vampires through their familiars, and any familiar could reveal everything.

After feeding,, Damaskinos looks over his files, his hands carefully tracing over the photos on the wall.

"You have been quite focused on Deacon Frost," Damaskinos says, his voice low.

Scud shrugs. "He came close. La Magra--"

Damaskinos shakes his head. "La Magra was nothing. Superstition. Foolish beliefs of a foolish half-blood." He turns back to Scud. "We have the future!"

Scud looks at his master, then shrugs.


This bite is painful. Scud thinks he might resent it.


A few days later, Counan arrives early. "Your current interest in La Magra," he says, his voice clipped, "has created quite a stir."

He slides over a single disc. "It has been decided you be given this." He stands, carefully straightening his jacket, before walking to the door. "I do hope you find a new interest shortly," he says, pausing briefly. "This one does have the potential of...creating a disturbance."

Scud scowls as he shuts the door, and looks up towards the single photo still on his wall. Deacon Frost stares back at him.

Scud screams at the wall furiously.


Deacon Frost is not a true vampire. Nothing changes that.


He watches the disc repeatedly. Each time, he's convinced Deacon Frost looks towards the camera, just before the explosion.




A pause, the look, then devastation.

There is a strange wrench in his gut each time he watches it. A sense of wrong. Unnaturalness.

He turns off the disc. And, suddenly, the feeling is gone.

He puts it away, suddenly, quickly, not realising what he is doing. He takes down the sketches, the photos, the reports. The emptiness of his walls terrify him.

He stops, briefly, over the photo of Deacon Frost. It takes a second, an eternal gasping pause. He takes the photo, tearing it in half.


Damaskinos welcomes him back gladly. And Scud will be prepared.


When the day comes, Scud is ready.

Counan hands him the backpack. It is ragged, cheap, and perfect. Scud is merely a backpacker, travelling across Eastern Europe with a badly folded map, a nickelbag of the finest, and twenty American dollars. It's just like before. But better.

Counan gestures towards the two women standing behind him. "They will...prepare the situation. Blade has been seen in the area, and it should be his ideal situation."

Damaskinos smiles at him. "You are perfect," he says.

Scud nods, grabs his bag, and leaves.

This Blade story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at