Ruby Tears

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I left the room to the sweet sound of flesh meeting flesh, my lion silent now, likely not for long, but traveled through a door on the side of my room into the bathing chamber attached to my room. This was not the bloodbath I had been to before but a rich water-filled pool that was heated, steam floating into the air above and out small vent windows along one wall.

Inside the room were a few of my servants, one adding orange petals to the water, mixed with dried orange peels, and a few herbs. So many women bathed in rose petals, milk, honey, lavender, I prefer a more citrus scent along with a lighter flower scent of lilies. The room itself had even higher walls than my sleeping room, the ceiling sculpted into small arches each painted with a different image and many pillars decorating the edges of the room. A classic style of a roman bathing chamber but without the open sky above, the water-filled the pool from a small fountain at one end with the head of a roaring lion and seeped out of the other with a small drainage pipe deep into the depths of the pool.

I said nothing to the servants in the room, all of them knew unless I spoke to them directly they were to be as lifeless and invisible as the stone pillars. As my toes dipped into the poor the warmth seeped into my skin, hotter than the body of a human and nearly more so than that of a shifter. I enjoyed the warmth which soaked into my cool skin, deeper into my muscles, and even to my bones until for a few moments I felt alive again as I had so very long ago. I walked deeper and deeper into the pool until my head was fully submerged releasing all of the oxygen in my lungs I was able to walk along the bottom of the pool. The pool was designed to be deep enough at its lowest end where the water entered the pool I could stand at the very bottom and still not reach the top of the water. That was my goal, the light and vision of the room above the water were distorted, unrealistic with the waves of the water. I relaxed in the water’s warm depths, letting my arms move freely, my hair floating around me as if I was a mermaid deep within the sea. I smiled slightly in the water’s depths, here, alone, where I could not be seen, monitored, and judged.

Some of the blood that had dried on my skin floated away as I relaxed, letting my mind wander to times past when I was still human. I’d been traveling with my family off on an adventure to meet a young chieftain who was to wed me. Now I had no title but my family had a vast amount of well-tended land that turned a profit every year just along the border of his lands, and the addition to our lands to his would make the man not only richer but able to feed more of his own people if trouble came. It also helped I was a rather pretty girl of eighteen, having come into the curves of my body early I filled out a dress nicely, and working alongside my people in the fields kept me well fit and muscled. Hair to match the wings of a raven, and the golden eyes of a wolf, skin as pale as the moon and a rich sultry voice to tempt the men who heard me sing. My father would tease me that I must have been switched at birth by a siren for how I sang and with how much I loved to swim in the lochs and rivers each time we were in reach.

My family was not known as Scott’s at the time the roman’s having later named us Picts, it would be a few hundred years before the Roman’s, Britsh, Irish took over most of our lands and changed our ways of life forever and long before the Vikings became a real problem. I missed those simple carefree days where words were only spoken as the masses had no words to be writing and the most important things were told or used symbols for. We passed the edges of the chief’s land and within the first village they had constructed a man of wood in the shade of trees, the legs already filled with bodies covered by cloths. My family had paused upon seeing this, but a man on horseback rode up to us. “What brings you?”

My father of course spoke for us, my own body was covered up with a cloak, breasts bound up to make me look more like a boy as I was mixed into the masses of my brother. “Friends of the new Chief, me and my sons have come to seek out a trade agreement for my crops.”

I noticed along with the saddle of the horse, hung eight skulls and I knew he likely had nearly the same number on the other side. At first glance anyone would say they were human skulls but the k-9 teeth were slightly longer on most, having been filed down to look more human. This man was a hunter, and our people didn’t need to hunt other humans unless it was in a war, we hunted Monsters that hunted us. Within my own family, my five eldest brothers and a few uncles kept our family and lands safe from such horrors. “I see, you should keep moving, today we burn a nest.”

I looked again to the wooden statue and it made sense, a blood drinker had attacked the village, and they were cleaning out the nest in the daylight to burn them all before sundown. “Gods keep you.”

The rest of us gave a similar farewell, my own voice pitched low so it would go unnoticed. For the rest of the trip we moved faster, father refusing to stop until we reached the stronghold of the Chief. We were welcomed, allowed in to see him, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the young lord wasn’t fat or ugly. He wasn’t a jaw-dropper mind you, but a well enough looking man, and my father after speaking to him a few moments called me forward. “ My most beautiful daughter, she’ll be eighteen summers this harvest.”

I pulled the hood back from my head and shook my hair out. I heard a few gasps from the others within the room, and even the Chief looked shocked by my looks, then his eyes traveled down and he didn’t seem as pleased. I smirked by the time he looked back up and spoke up before anything else could be said. “ I would be wearing padding above my hips to make my chest look square, and a binding round my chest to hide all the gifts my mother gave me. I’d be happy to change under the eyes or your own Mother or sister to prove when I come out wearing proper women’s wear that I’d just be me under the garment.”

He nodded and made a motion so an elderly woman came up. “My Grandmother would go with you for such.”

I bowed before him then lifted the bag I brought with me. “Thank you. Be as quick as I can.”

I went with the woman. “Well to meet you. I’d be Drusticc. “

The older woman gave me a smile. “Just call me Gran dear child. My boy won’t be letting you leave here without wedding you.” She laughed. “Least if he’s got any of his brains left after he sees the rest of you.”

I laughed full-throated at the woman. “You got a guess then at what I got tucked away hmm?”

I found it fun to tease the old woman.

“Of course lass, you’d not be the first young thing to be hiding her body when needed, I used to do it myself long ago when I’d sneak off to have adventures with my brothers.”

I laughed again as we ducked into a small side room. “Oh I’m glad you are here Gran I think we will get along just fine.”

She gave me a wink as she secured the door. “Right then. Let’s see what you’ve got eh?”

I stripped down in record time, and she gave a wolf whistle when I was naked. “Oh, my poor boy... He ain’t gonna be able to stand up without showing the whole room how much he’d be keen on keeping you!”

Both of us ended up laughing, and she helped me get into a proper dress, one that showed off my curves due to a belt pulled tight around the middle. Normally I’d wear a slightly more conservative robe, or keep my chest bound, but that’d be something for later. Right now I’d be showing off my body to the would-be groom in hopes he’d marry me and make my family happy. When we walked back into the hall, my would-be groom had moved to a lower table to sit, drink, and talk with my father. I was pleased he’d come down from his chair to sit with my family, “There be the real Dru!”

One of my brothers called out. The chief turned and fell off the bench. Gran beside me laughed as did my brother’s my father came around to help the Chief up. “Don’t feel bad. We hide her curves away for that very reason.”

The Chief took my father’s help in standing but his jaw was still slack with surprise, shock in his eyes mixed with primal hunger. I spoke up then tossed some of my hair back over my shoulder that had fallen forward. “So Sir. Shall I change back and head home or would you prefer to keep me?”

My voice was teasing, but I really did hope he wished to marry me for it would mean our land would fall under the care of someone with more warriors, we’d have more safety, more chances for my own sisters to wed outside the family line without having to go far, new chances to hire on men to add into the family also. It was a win all around and with how Gran was it gave me hope it would be a good home.

“I..” He stammered. “I’d keep you.”

My family cheered loudly and Gran called out. “We best get ready for a wedding!”

The rest of the chief’s people in the room cheered as well for we all loved to celebrate, and my groom nodded finally shutting his mouth. “But we won’t be showing you off like that to everyone.”

I smiled. “Course not Sir.”

I tugged the belt free so my lines were not as well outlined. “Should I head back to the same room to hide them a bit more?”

He nodded. “That’s fine.”

You could tell he was still distracted his mind stuck on the image of my body hidden by only a few layers of cloth. My pride and vanity filled to almost bursting. “I’ll be back soon then. Gran could you help me one more time please?”

She patted my arm, grinning at me. “Course I can. Be happy to in fact. Maybe we don’t hide them as much.”

She teased so I teased back. “Maybe.”

The wedding had been simple yet full of life, laughter, joy, and a sweet wedding night that I still had a fond memory of. We had a good peaceful life for nearly five years and three children, two boys and a girl to extend his line and bring me joy. I’d become friends with my husband and later grown to love him, and on the night of harvest on that fifth year, my world was shattered. A monster set fire to the grand house, sending all of us scattering out into the night into a battle of Monsters vs man.

My youngest son, not even a full four moons old was taken. I did everything I could over the next two days to keep them from killing my son, a willing victim as long as they allowed my son to live, and by the third day, they turned me, leaving me locked in a cave to feed on my son after turning. I fought off the hunger for two days, nearly going mad, but when they finally checked on me, thinking by now there was no chance my son was alive I ripped the remaining four monsters apart in my blood lust, finding another human in reach I satiated my hunger on the poor girl. By the next night I returned to my own home, it was only the sight of the crying child in my arms that kept the warriors from killing me as I came to the edge of the village, for they doubted I was human. “Please! I beg you! My son is untouched and still human! Take him back to my husband keep him safe! The others are dead near the caves to the north, I killed them all to protect my son.”

All of them hesitated until my husband came. “Please Taran! He’s still human!”

I held up the crying child and after a moment My husband nodded. “Leave him on the ground there and back away from him, far away.”

I nodded setting down the child and backing away until I was nearly out of sight. One of our druids went up to the child, a warrior with him watching me, and they checked the child and finding his heart still beating, and his hunger human they took the child back to his father. “Thank you.”

My husband called out. “For protecting my son I’ll only give you tonight to run. You seem to still have sanity yet. Never return Dru.. Or I’ll kill you.”

I nodded calling out. “Keep our children safe Taran! Our people safe!”

I found another set of caves far west of the first, finding a small hole I barely fit into to hide for the day and the next night went to see if they had found the cave I’d told them of. They had, and burned everybody, taking the heads, and sealing the cave. I protected the borders of my family's land for the next hundred years from any and all other Monsters, until my children were long gone, and their grandchildren thrived with their young ones until the Romans began to be an issue. When the armies of Rome came to my lands was the first time I found myself leaving the land of my ancestors. A stirring across the surface of the water pulled me from my thoughts and I walked up from the depths until my chin rested atop the water. “He is ready M’Lady.”

I smiled at Julian.” Wonderful.”

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