For the next couple weeks Vitania hardly slept. She spent hours in the Mountains of Is with various teachers learning various techniques. She had meditation with Yerlexia, a kind of Thai-Chi that they called “Valia” that was taught by a very muscular Ancient named Greth, and an old kind of fighting with Ryzhak that he called “Chel”.
She came to recognize that although the Ancients were angelic in their own way, they were also dangerous. They always looked perfect; their clothes were never wrinkled and flowed effortless with their every movement; their hair was sleek, always just right and shone like the sun. Their voices drifted past her ears like a summer breeze rolling off the beach water, warm and inviting. The dangerous part was how they moved. They seemed to move without effort, without really walking, or using any musculature at all. She didn’t even know if they did walk because she never saw anyone’s feet, their robes never left the grass.
Greth was a very bulky Ancient, almost looking out of place with the rest of the slender beings that inhabited their utopia. If you had a life before you came an Ancient, he definitely would have been a battle commander, which was obvious in the way he taught Vitania; army style. His teachings combined a little bit of everything, and he ran her through obstacle courses for conditioning before they even got to learning Valia.
She had to admit, after listening to Greth bark orders at her and train her muscles until they were ready to be ripped from her skin, seeing him in a calmer environment moving with the famous grace of the Ancients while looking extremely top-heavy, was at first very funny to see. He taught her about herr inner core, how you have to balance your external and internal beings, how each species differed she needed to learn to adapt to its strength inside her in order to utilize al of it. Sometimes there were parts of Valia that involved meditation as well, but nothing as deep as what she practiced with Yerlexia.
The soothing hum that came from deep in Yerlexias throat put her in a trance almost immediately, so quickly that she was never quite sure if she was meditating on her own or if it was a spell she was being put under. The images she saw were different every day, some that were memories and some seemed like visions of the future, images that shook her so bad she would have nightmares back at the camp.
More than once Detalia or Sycon had woken her up because she was screaming, and when she came to she was in a cold sweat. It had happened so often that they didn’t ask anymore, they just woke her up and let her go for a walk to clear her head, which only froze the sweat beads against her skin.
She never wanted to tell them what she saw. One night it was Detalia hysterically crying, another was the skull of a dead Vampire, or bits of Faerie wings floating in the air without a master. Yerlexia told her they were images of what she feared most, not of the future and to not let them bother her, but to have your own fears played out in front of you was something she couldn’t just leave at the Mountain.
Not every image was terrible either, but the light images were never detailed, Vitania could never make out what they physically were, she just knew they were happy thoughts and left her feeling enlightened and calm.
After they had finished with their meditation half of the class, Yerlexia dived into the history of magic and how the Ancients used it to protect their world and how they determined who would be their Earthly portals for using magic. Vitania usually fell asleep during these lessons much to Yerlexia’s silent chagrin.
Although she found all her subjects mostly interesting, learning Chel with Ryzhak was the best.
All the Ancients had haunting beauty about them, but he was by far the most beautiful she had seen; being made up of pure graceful musculature. Even with the customary long garments he could spin circles around Vitania in her battle gear during their practices, always making her break out in a sweat.
She had mastered simple tactics like parry, forthward, parcours and backstrike of non-weapon close combat. She learned advanced bow and was now learning sword play.
It was nearing the end of a lesson and Vitania was starting to get frustrated at her inability to best him.
“I don’t understand.” She was doubled over, drenched in sweat, one of the Ancients swords laying at her side while Ryzhak stood over her. “Why do even I need to learn to use all these weapons if I have “this great power” inside me?”
“You could be powerful, but there will always be beings with more power able to best you in magical combat. You need to learn alternative methods of defending yourself and running out your enemies’ strength, in order to come out victorious.”
He ran at her again, his sword drawn. She dodged and rolled out of the way, grabbing hold of her own weapon and hearing the clash as she blocked his blow on one knee. Panting she looked into the white of his eyes. He gave her an arrogant smile that seemed out of place on a face that looked so innocent, and her knees weakened. He pushed against her sword and she fell, the tip of his blade resting against her throat.
“You need to focus Vitania. You get too easily distracted.”
‘I can’t help it, you just look so good.’
She whipped out her leg and caught Ryzhak in what she could only assume was his ankle, and he faltered just long enough for her to grab her sword and swing it aimlessly in his direction. He easily blocked her, which she was arrogantly surprised by, but only for a second. She parried away from him and brought her sword up at first and then quickly down and around to catch his blade, her tired muscles screaming at her to stop. He blocked her again. She kept trying. Each time she pushed herself against her limit, her vision became slightly clearer, she didn’t realize it was happening until she moved past him and could see his features so clearly she could count his eye lashes. Weak spots in his stance and falters in his movements; gleamed at her in the way sunlight bounces of metal in the heat of summer. Her muscles no longer ached, and it was as if she had gotten this burst of adrenaline and soon their swords were just a blur. She was almost laughing, a little maniacally, when everything went fuzzy. Ryzhak disarmed her and spun her around until they were standing chest to chest, his sword between them resting on her collar bone.
“Don’t mistake arrogance for confidence Vitania. Seeing only your opponents faults and not counting their strengths is a dangerous vision.”
She was panting hard, sweat dripping in places she didn’t know sweat could drip from, but Ryzhak wasn’t out of breath at all. In fact, being so close to him, she couldn’t even hear him breathing or feel a heartbeat. She couldn’t pick up any kind of a pulse and almost instantly she was afraid.
He lowered his sword and let her go.
“I think that is all the practicing we should do for now.”
“But I was just getting the hang of it!”
“We will have more time tomorrow. Today you have a new teacher to meet with.”
Ryzhak turned his back on her to care for his weaponry and Vitania knew that her time with him was done. His lessons seemed so short yet like they would never end at the same time, and they always left her so tired at the end. Sweating and out of breath she exited from the round, dimly lit, training room and found Yerlexia waiting for her at the door, smiling.
“Ryzhak said I had a new teacher.”
“Yes. Come with me.”
Vitania had seen a lot of where the Ancients lived, and it seemed to change a little bit every day. She had been taught that they had the ability to mould matter to how they saw fit, but really they were content with pretty much anything, how could you not be? Being an all knowing, powerful, creature? Yerlexia walked through the entrance way with the waterfall, and to a door on the far right side she hadn’t noticed before, but then again it could have only appeared today for all she knew. The door, set in the vast openness, gave way to a dimly lit, grungy stair case that seemed out of place for the haven that she had just walked through. They walked for some time vertically before coming to an open archway that gave way to a decadently furnished room. The room was lit with orbs that were placed upon holders attached to the only bare stone of the wall, giving off a white light. Most of the rest of the walls were covered in velvet curtains colored red which the light played off of, bathing the room in a pinkish glow. The spaces of the walls not covered by the velvet curtains were the home to immense brass book shelves, lined with probably hundreds of books. In the middle of the room, looking out of place in a room so immaculate, stood a single wooden table and matching chair. Vitania stood there for a few moments before whispering behind her to Yerlexia.
“I don’t see anyone.”
She turned to find she was alone, noticing still that she had no way out as the door had disappeared. As she was running her hand over the wall where the door used to be, a sensation crept over her causing the hairs on the back of her neck to raise, turning she saw a dark figure standing in front of the table. Her heart rate was starting to increase and she focused as hard as she could to calm the pounding, having no idea where Yerlexia had gone and feeling unprepared for the sudden appearance of this newcomer.
She stood still and silent, scanning the figure and trying to get a sense for what it could be capable of, getting no reading at all. She was still in the home of the Ancients and her Vampire abilities were useless, which made her stomach drop and her mind reel. If they wanted to get rid of another powerful being, this would be where they would be sent. It was now hunched over the table, hopefully meaning that it was older but that didn’t necessarily mean it was feeble, considering her father was over four-hundred and could still hunt like someone at the turn of their century. The hands she assumed were clasped together, masked by the sleeves of the cloak he was wearing, which met at the middle and that he held in front of his chest. She tensed and saw a tiny flash of white from under the hood; was it smiling or just looking at her through the whites of Ancient eyes?
“Calm yourself Vampire.”
The tone was male, his tone was arrogant and mocking, not a way any of the Ancients have acted around her so far.
“If I wanted to hurt you, I could have done so by now. But I am too old to try and surprise you with such tactics as it would prove more harm to me than good. You are younger than I by many years.”
“And what are you?”
“The only thing you need to know is that you need me.”
He straightened his back which gave him an extra foot and Vitania suddenly felt very small. He pulled his hood back and she tried to keep the expression on her face as neutral as possible.
It really wasn’t anything bad; it just wasn’t what she expected from an Ancient. All of the ones she had seen had been beautiful, angelic, and gave her butterflies. But he, he was nothing like that. He was almost a skeleton. His skin was sunken in so much that it was practically lying on the bone, and his pigment a mixture of gray and purple. His eyes were the same pearl white, but seemed larger due to the lack of muscle and fat around his skull, and bulged out of his head. His hands; which were now at his sides, were just as thin and she could see the curve of every bone in each of his fingers. He smiled a smile that made her cringe inside instead of warm her up, as if he was trying to seem friendly when he really just reminded her of a snake. When he turned towards one of the bookshelves she saw the strangest thing on the back of his skull. Was it a scar? No, it was an indent in the bone. The same marking that was carved into the keystone of the arch at the beginning of the mountain path.
When he turned back around he had placed on the table a very thick, ancient looking book.
“I’m sure my appearance must come as quite a shock to you.”
She said nothing, not knowing what she could say.
“It might interest you to know that my features are not an illusion or hallucination meant to frighten you, but the true physical attributes of the Ancients. Those golden haired angels that faze you every time are imaginary, made up of your own thoughts of what we may look like to you, what our living quarters would look like to you. Although none of them look quite like me, for I am the eldest Ancient around for miles in the least.”
“For miles? So, there could be more?”
“Possibly, but if they have lived longer than I; I too would close myself away from the prying minds of those on this plain.”
Vitania looked at the ground, almost ashamed she had been so mesmerized by a mirage that she created, she should have known they were too good to be true.
“I didn’t come here looking for the secrets of the universe; I just wanted to know if someone could help me with this secret I didn’t know I was keeping.”
“And I can do that. But you must know that information like that of which you desire to learn is a heavy burden, leaving your life to be a solitary one.”
Vitania’s looked into the whites of his eyes as her heart ached and fell into the pit of her stomach, thinking a living a life for hundreds of years alone. Having prolonged life was hard as it was but knowing you could never have anyone, what would be the point.
“Do you wish to proceed knowing the consequences of your actions?”
“I have no choice”
“You always have a choice.”
She stood staring at the Ancient in front of her. Her told her she had a choice but she didn’t feel like she did; not while her mother was missing, possibly kidnapped, unspeakable Underworld things being done to her. Her companions, that called her their friend, they were the only ones who had a choice, and they chose to follow her on her mission not knowing that eventually she would probably have to leave them, and what about their choice then?
“You’re compassion for your friends concerns me Vampire, you cannot let useless emotions get in the way, it will only make things worse for you in the end.”
“How did you--?”
“Telepathy requires a certain set of skills and power, both of which you possess.”
‘Being able to read people’s thoughts is a dangerous power.’
‘In the wrong hands it can be.’
She didn’t like the idea of him being in her head, but being in need of his assistance, she chose the lesser of two evils.
“Alright, teach me.”
He strode over and handed her the large manuscript that had been on the table.
“Read it. All.”
“Read it all?!”
“Meditate beforehand, it might help you.”
She turned to leave but he was suddenly in front of her.
“This book does not leave the tower.”
Grunting, she didn’t take her eyes off him as he pulled out a chair for her and she sat down, staring at the one thousand plus dusty pages in front of her, lit only by one candle.
“I have to read the whole thing sitting here?”
When no response came, she scanned the room, and found herself alone in the dim light of the solitary candle, securing the thought painfully that she would end up alone, possibly surrounded in the darkness.
She opened the cover and read the title clearly on the first page, “The Power Within.” Sounded like one of the self-help books she had seen on the coffee tables at home, except those were all for bad eating habits and smoking, none of which she realized could ever harm her mother who was the only one who read them. Ironic. The next page was the introduction, which captured her attention.
“Do not read this book,” it started, “in fact, stop looking at it entirely. This manuscript is not to be physically read as there is nothing on these pages for those looking to expand their general knowledge. Let go of the fear you are experiencing deep within you and remember that you can only see this book what it truly is once you have emptied your mind and chose to accept what is on these pages. Follow these simple instructions and things won’t seem so unnatural.
1. Clear your mind, pay no attention to the fact you are alone, or the spiders on the wall.
Vitania glanced over and for the first time noticed the slight shimmer of weaved thread covering one corner between the book shelves on the wall.
2. Place your hands on the bottom two corners of the book, one left and one right, focusing on the candle’s flame in front of you.
3. Envision the light of the candle engulfing yourself and this book.
4. Say nothing and do not move until your vision starts to blur then avert your eyes to the centre of this book.
5. Only look for a few seconds, and when your eyes start to burn, close them tight and breathe deep, feeling the energy wash over you.
It felt like she was reading a cult text, and although she was concerned at the thought of her eyes feeling like they were going to burn, Vitania followed the directions. She placed her hands in the bottom left and right corners of the book, gently touching the fraying edges of this well-read manuscript, and started taking in deep breathes using the meditation techniques from Yerlexia; breathing from the bottom of her diaphragm up into her chest, trying to relax her heart and calm her emotions. She looked up and watched the candle in front of her, lazily at first, flicker back and forth, the wick twisting around in the heat of the flame, bending to the whim of this natural element. Somewhere in the haze, her concentration changed. Her forehead started to sting from subconsciously scrunching her eye brows together in concentration, but she wouldn’t let up, feeling the energy in the room shift. The faint glow that hung around the flame like a halo started to expand, and drip like a wet fog over the edges of the melted candle wax and onto the table. She watched as it expanded, covering the book and her hands. It didn’t feel hot, it didn’t feel like anything at all and she wasn’t entirely sure if she was imagining this or if it was really happening. Her sight moved to rest on the middle crease of the book and within seconds her eyes began to sting, she instinctively closed them and felt tears welling up behind her eyelids but it didn’t stop the pain. She was gripping the sides of the book and the edge of the table wanting to let go and wanting to move but she couldn’t, it was like the book and the candle and this tower were keeping her suspended, glued to the table and the book. And then she saw it; everything. Her eyes were closed but flashes of images, memories, instructions, were playing in her brain.
She saw drawings, sketches of symbols etched into the Earth, hidden in Ardtrea and in her own world. There were gatherings, people in cloaks like the Ancients chanting and raising power but for what purpose she couldn’t tell. She saw page after page of spells, ingredients, moon phases, history, metaphysics and alchemy. All this information swirling in her head, like a catalogue of a thousands of years of history lesson crammed into ten seconds.
And then she was on the floor, flat on her back. She was drenched in a cold sweat and bathed in the pale glow of the still lit table candle. She couldn’t help but pant and shake, as she rolled over onto her side and was promptly sick to her stomach all over the cold stone floor. The stench of half-digested blood and dinner reached her nose, making her cringe.
“That is a outcome.”
She looked up wiping her mouth, and glared at her teacher.
“Did you know that was going to happen?”
“It has been different for everyone who experiences it.”
She was still shaking but tried to make sure he could hear the frustration in her voice.
“Why didn’t you warn me?”
“If I had told you there was a chance you would go into convulsions or projectile vomit, your mind would have only been focused on the possible outcome, not the lesson at hand”
Ignoring his arrogance she tried to steady herself on the table, holding on tight so her shaking legs could regain strength.
“I must say I am impressed, you caught on rather quickly. There have been creatures who have read every page and still couldn’t figure out the book.”
She didn’t want to but curiosity over took her and she glanced at the book still resting on the table, and was in disbelief at what she saw as she flipped through the pages. It was a combination of blank page after blank page, and then pages of nonsense not teaching or telling anything.
“To be honest, I have no idea what just happened, and I’m not too sure that I want to know either.”
“What just happened is simple, you downloaded all the information from the book.”
Vitania stared at the book, unwilling to try and process what he just said.
“Can I go back to my camp now.”
He stepped to one side as she stumbled by and grabbed her things, heading for the open door but stopped.
“Am I going to have to come back here tomorrow?”
“Well, can I know the name of my teacher then?”
She didn’t hide the distaste in her voice when she called him a teacher, because he didn’t seem to be a good one. There was a shift in the aura of the place and she got the sense she caught him slightly off guard asking him for his name, although he didn’t show any expression of such surprise on his face.
“Well Lykar, my opinion of you right now is that you are the worst teacher, idol, preacher, creature, I have ever had the displeasure of crossing paths with and I can tell that the next little while will not be a picnic for either of us. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Without bothering to read his expression or feel the atmosphere, Vitania left the tower and made her way back to camp.
When she arrived she waved everyone off and dove for her tent, wrapping herself up in her blankets and fell right to sleep. She had no time or energy to think about what just happened in the tower, but although her eyes were closed, her mind was wide awake, and her dreams were filled with replays of what she saw.
Vitania awoke to the sound of her something against the sides of her tent. She laid there, completely silent, listening to the noise. When she heard the zipper open and felt the chill breeze, she bolted from her bed and jumped on the intruder. They wrestled for less than a minute before she had them in the snow face down, hands held behind their back. She could feel the heart beat in the wrist under her thumbs, fast paced and nervous, as well as the panting of the creature underneath her, fangs out she stared, her breathing hardly changed.
She looked up, broken from her trance when she saw Tal running towards her. Looking down she realized the fuzzy creature she was holding captive in the dark, was Detalia.
Immediately she jumped off and back, letting Tal pick Detalia up and helping brush her off. They both turned to look at her, the look on Detalia’s face was only of concern for Vitania and not herself, Tals’ was of pure anger.
“I-I am so sorry Detalia.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
Instead of freaking out like Vitania was known to do when she was surprised, she simple walked over to Detalia and gave her a hug. She could feel her still beating heart through the armour, slowing down considerably, an outpour of emotions flowing from her. Remembering what Lykar told her, she tried to close off her mind to these emotions and created an invisible border between herself and Detalia.
“I was starting to worry, you had been sleeping a long time.”
“How long did I sleep for?”
Tal sounded unimpressed in his tone. She turned to him, and for the first time since she had met him, she actually looked at him, his persons. The way he stood and the kind of aura he was giving off. His arms were crossed and he had the stance of a general. He stood up straight with his back arched, which easily made him over six feet tall. His eyebrows were tight in an upward point, and his eyes were narrow staring at Vitania. His nose and ears twitched every now and then and his mouth was a small line of confusion and anger. He was handsome for a wolf, and she could understand why Detalia was attracted to him, but there was something else. Something she didn’t notice before about the way he was.
“You’re not worried are you Talesian?”
The tone that came out of her mouth surprised even her but she kept her ground, letting the grating sarcasm in her voice get the point across. Tal grunted and walked away, back towards the fire where the others were huddled.
“Don’t mind him Vitania he’s just not used to camping this long.”
“It’s something else.”
“What do you mean?”
“There is something different about him.”
She sounded nervous, like she did and didn’t want her to tell her something that might conflict their relationship.
“I’m not sure.”
She walked back to her tent and found clean clothes, while Detalia waited.
“Are you going back to the Mountain?”
“I have to, I need to talk to Lykar.”
The question in her voice was a concerned one, and it pained Vitania inside.
“What exactly did you learn?”
She emerged in her Melia, looking ready for a fight.
“I learned that Ancients are beautiful liars.”
Detalia leaned closer, one eyebrow raised beckoning her to keep going.
“I learned various ways of fighting; bow and arrow, sword, dagger, hand to hand combat. I learned the importance of meditation to control emotions at times of high pressure,” Detalia made a grunt that said ‘because you need that’ but Vitania ignored it, “and I learned that there are some books that should never be read.”
She shuddered slightly and slipped on her gloves, the cold of the Mountain getting to her fingertips, and read the look of deep concern on Detalia’s face. The only time she had ever had a friend and eventually she would be alone again. She was sure her stomach was in the bottom of her boot by now and couldn’t take the look Detalia was giving anymore. She turned away and started towards the crackling noise of the fire.
When she rounded the corner Sycon was the only one sitting there, Tal and Spiros were nowhere to be seen. She assumed Tal was sulking in his tent and who knew where the Faerie was, but she deeply wished someone else was there besides Sycon. After Detalia she didn’t want to deal with his emotions.
Her crunching boot made him look up, but he didn’t jump at her or show any optimism at her sudden appearance. He looked at her with a slight fear which she couldn’t comperehend, and could see his panting in the cold air.
They stood still for a while, just watching each other. She wanted to say something to him, anything to break the silence, but what could she say? He got up and stepped forward, coming up close enough for her to see the frost on his eye lashes in the light of the fire. She tried to steady herself as she looked for the first time at the pattern in his eyes, forgetting the fresh lesson about controlling her emotions.
It was like someone had taken the color of the deepest part of the ocean and dropped it onto oil, then taken the color of the sky at high noon and dropped it on top of that. His eyes were swirling colors of blue with grey flecks scattered through. The flecks seemed to shine, resembling ironically enough, graded silver. His pupils were incredibly dark, almost blacker than black, which set off the bright blue that surrounded it. She opened her mouth to say something; although she wasn’t quite sure what she was about to say, but it didn’t matter because he stopped her.
He had one hand in the back of her hair and another hand on her waist. He had pulled her closer and caused her eyes to close as pressed his lips to hers. She had been kissed before but not like this, not by another Vampire. He pressed his lips so fiercely against hers, so passionately that she lost her breath and felt his fangs come out, piercing her lip. Instead of pulling away, she pressed harder against him, letting her own come out and then biting down on his lip. Her arms were around his neck and coupled with the feel of his lips she could taste his warm blood, feel his pulse quacking through his lips with every kiss. She had always expected other Vampires blood to taste what she considered to be normal, but his was not what she expected. It was thicker than any blood she had tasted, and it was sweet; like the ripest fruit or of her favourite candy. She didn’t get the taste for long before he pulled away, licking off the excess blood. He let go of her and they just stood there, Vitania still lost for words.
Sycon took a step back and stared at her for what felt like forever, and she could feel the flush in her cheeks and she knew she was blushing. He said nothing, but turned and walked back to the wagon where he would spend the day sleeping.
She continued, shakily at first, towards the Mountain pass and steadied herself for her confrontation with Lykar.
When she entered the Ancients hold she was shocked at the sight. It was no longer gold and shining. It was just the inside of a mountain. Dark, damp, and cold. The grinko’s were floating around, perching from Ancient to Ancient, cooing and cuddling against their gray, sunken skin. Vitania hid her disgust as she walked towards the right side of the hall and looked for the door. She ran her hands along the stone but felt nothing, there was no door. Her heart started to pick up speed and she turned to face the middle of the room.
She yelled at the top of her lungs and a ghost of a woman glided towards her, thin black hair like strings falling around her shoulders.
“Where is Lykar? Why is there no door here anymore?”
“The door is only there for those who are in need of it. You are not in need of it anymore.”
“What do you mean I’m not in need of it? I can’t be done, there is so much more that I need to learn!”
“What else you need to learn we cannot teach you. It is something you need to figure out on your own.”
“How will I know if it’s right?”
Yerlexia just smiled a ghostly, almost in trance smile at her. Frustrated, Vitania let out a loud angry noise and threw her hands in the air. She stormed off and heard Yerlexia’s voice trail after.
“Control your emotions young Vampire, or they will get the best of you.”
Vitania mocked Yerlexia’s sweet voice as she stormed through the mountain.
How could she be done? She still had no idea what she is doing with this “power” that she has, how is she supposed to know how to work it or do anything with it.
She suddenly became very dizzy and stumbled on the stone, catching herself on the side of the cave and waiting for her world to stop spinning. Holding her head she got a feeling of intense fear and when her strength regained she took off at a run, arriving at the camp in record speed.
She found everyone sitting around the fire, talking quietly, but no one seemed to be in duress.
“Vitania? Is everything okay?”
She made her way to the fire and looked everyone over intently.
“Is everyone okay?”
They looked at each other concerned and she saw Tal raise an eyebrow.
“We’re fine. Are you okay?”
She shook her head and ran to the wagon, throwing open the back flap and peering inside. Eyes wide she jumped in and ruffled through the piles of blankets, her heart sinking to what she didn’t find.
“Vitania what is going on?”
She jumped out of the wagon.
“Where is Sycon?”
“Sycon is gone, I saw him just before I left. Did you guys see anything? Or see something happen to him?”
“We didn’t see anything.” Tal was the first one to speak up.
She turned to him, anger rising in her throat.
“Not like you would have stopped him if he did want to leave. You weren’t happy him being here in the first place.”
“Of course not, why would I? I already have to deal with one Vampire, why would I want to deal with two when my every urge is telling me to rip your throats out? I only tolerate this for Detalia, because she still has human tendencies that she can’t help.”
Vitania sensed Detalia tense up and clench her fist, swallowing hard.
“Pack up. Pack up everything.”
“Are you going on a hunt for your boyfriend now?”
“No, we’re going back to Saphyr and Drean.”
“Why? What is the point of that?”
“If you don’t want to come fine, stay here and freeze, but this is my problem, my trip, and I’m leaving with the supplies regardless of your company.”
She turned and started toward her tent, ignoring Tal yelling behind her.
He was committing suicide, he knew, wandering off when there was only a few hours of darkness left but he didn’t care, all he could think about was her.
Sycon tongued the place in his lip where there should have been puncture holes from where Vitania’s fangs had come out, but her wasn’t overly surprised when he felt nothing.
He had kissed many other women, many Vampire women, but there was something about her that ignited his skin. The way she had fit so perfectly in his arms, how he didn’t have to say anything, how she had kissed him back. And when he had drew blood, he had been surprised at the taste. It was illegal in Drean to purposely drink from another Vampire for sustenance, but recreational reasons never seemed to come up. He had accidentally drew the blood of other women, and it was all very similar; iron tasting, sometimes sour, tangy, salty, but nothing like hers.
The first taste was hot, not just the unusual actual temperate of her blood, but spicy. It had stung on the initial contact with his tongue but then instantly had changed to something better, something heavenly. It was electric; in the way it sent tiny shocks through his body. He thought that this is what it might be like to be struck by lightning. It made his heart race and his body melt, it lit him on fire and gave him an adrenaline rush.
He heard a twig snap and turned but it was too late. He felt the blow and fell to his knees, thinking of the taste of Vitania still on his tongue.
Midian dropped Kynthelig, badly beaten and barely breathing, on the cement floor. He could sense the arrival of new creatures around him, snarling and smelling of animal sweat. He coughed blood and strained his eyes to look up.
“Even Goddess’s need their connections.”
She let out a small, evil chuckle and turned her attention to the Elder.
“I brought you yours, now where is mine?”
The Elder snapped his fingers and two guards threw a thin, young Vampire onto the floor, wrists and feet bound, skin smoldering from silver. Midian picked up the scrawny figure and tipped his face up to get a good look at her newest pawn.
He had bright blue eyes that resembled that of a God, and for an instant she took pity on the fact he had no choice but to play a role in her game.
“So, young Falkrie, you’re the one who drank her blood.”
He stared at her, biting his own lip.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She laughed and let him go, allowing him to fall the ten or so feet to the ground beside Kynthelig, who looked over and squinted at the fellow Vampire beside him. She was right, it was a young Falkrie.
“Sycon. You-you drank from my daughter?”
Almost more terrified of Kynthelig than he was of the demon in front of him.
“I would never-It just- kind of happened.”
“Oh really,” Midian cut in with a delighted laugh, “and how does that just happen?”
Sycons eyes went wide and stayed defiant.
“I am not telling you anything! Nor can you make me do whatever it is that you want me to do!”
“Isn’t this exciting! The little Night Child thinks he has a choice in the matter. Tsk tsk little Vampire, you need to learn to respect your elders.”
She picked him up again and locked her eyes with his.
“You can fight all you want but it won’t matter. Now that I have what I want I will take my leave.”
With that, Midian was gone and Kynthelig was left alone with the Elder and his guards. He coughed and sputtered and spit blood on the floor, looking at the Lycan in front of him through blurred vision.
“Making deals with Demons now are we? That’s a little low even for a Lycan.”
“Well I couldn’t resist when she came to me and told me what she was. A half-breed, how interesting.”
“Of course she is a half-breed, everyone knows that. There was no hiding my union to her mother and what she would become.”
The Elder laughed arrogantly and bent down close to the floor so that he was face to face with his Vampiric foe.
“Poor, dumb Kynnthelig. You don’t even know the monstrosity, the truth, of what has shamed your family and your noble name.”
He turned and laughed, walking towards the exit of the dark room.
“My daughter, is not a monstrosity.”
With what little strength he had left, he lunged at the Lycan in front of him. His attempt was a futile one he knew, having not fed for days, and the Elder simply raised his back hand and sent Kynthelig flying across the room. The Elder let out a laugh as he coughed and spat out more of his own blood.
“Do you know how long I’ve wanted to do that, oh peace keeper of the realm? We may have signed that treaty but there will always be the blood-lust of draining one of you Night Bangers and hanging your teeth on our walls.”
He had crossed the room and was continuing to beat down on Kynthelig, who was weak and unable to protect himself. He used only his paws, but the combination of punches and claws was enough to spill blood all over the floor. When the bashing was done, the guards lifted Kynthelig and carried him behind the grinning, bloody Elder, until they reached a room with even less light, almost blinding him.
It resembled that of a dungeon, but at least with better accommodations. He wasn’t forced to sleep on a cot, but the room was still all stone and moist, dripping with condensation from the outside. The mortar used to build this room was mixed with a hint of garlic and silver, enough to keep a Vampire, on the bed which was stationed in the middle of the room.
They threw him down into the room and he crawled, haphazardly and without dignity, to the bed, commencing to cough and throw up onto the floor beside one of the legs of the frame. The guards laughed at him and he hissed weekly in their direction at their shaking heads as they closed the door to his new hold.
He rolled over and looked at the ceiling, all stone, all glittering with silver and smelling of garlic. It was an interesting combination, meant to hold both Vampires and that of Lycan birth; they even caged their own kind, something Vampires never did.
Thinking of a race holding its fellow creature against their will made his anger rise, and thinking of Sycon biting Vitania made his blood boil. It is strictly forbidden to bite another Vampire no matter the situation. Even lifelong partners don’t drink each other’s blood, it is just unheard of. What was he trying to gain from doing so? What did he mean by it was an accident, that it just happened? Things like that don’t just happen; common Vampire sense would stop any kind of emotional trigger from causing him to bite.
His stomach pained as he wondered about Vitania, about where she was, and what the Elder meant about her being a monstrosity. He sighed and rolled over, feeling old and out of practice, being taken by a demon and by a fellow creature who swore a treaty for peace between the nations, and here they were about to start a war with his imprisonment. What good would come of this? Absolutely nothing, but he was sure the Lycan race probably thought it would prove that they were superior.
He scoffed, which pained him through his rib cage and he cringed. It didn’t matter who the “superior” race was, there was so many races that they could never have one that was above the rest. Closing his eyes, he knew it would take him days to heal himself if they kept starving him, and slowly he fell asleep to the sound of small animals running through the walls, and the beat of his own diminishing heartbeat.