Isolde: Blood-Rose Guardians (a supplementary novella)

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Tristan, The First

Tristan was my world for a long time. I didn’t fully understand how or why he had convinced me it was true, but he was right, I did love him. All of my fears and anxieties about being captured had dissipated that first night when we had been intimate. I had fallen asleep feeling as though I was in love with the man who had taken me and effectively raped me. Some part of me knew there was something wrong with the whole scenario but I couldn’t quite put a finger on why. I could not remove the ring on my finger either. Every time I looked down at my hand I remembered William and hoped he was well. I knew he would grieve for me having thinking me lost with the rest of the castle community. I had been with child, but the stress of being captured and given to a new man soon ended that and I had a painful episode where the blood ran brighter than usual and was more clotted than I had experienced in the past, and I believe that was the end of the child William and I had created out of love, but given my current predicament, I was grateful. I couldn’t imagine what tortures would befall a child of the enemy in this camp. Tristan would know it wasn’t his, somehow I was certain of that.

The host of Marcus’ army followed the front line troops, who practiced a scorched earth policy – burning everything in their path. Tristan disappear with the men during the day and then return to bed me at night. I really had no choice in the matter and loathed myself for not feeling the need or desire to escape his clutches. It was weeks before their campaign directed us back towards Italy. It was in Italy that I became a vampire.

Tristan was a vampire. He and Marcus had been together already for nearly a thousand years. Sometimes Marcus was the General, sometimes Tristan was and this explained why Tristan did not show due reverence to his leader and why his leader did not punish him for the lack of diligence. Marcus and Tristan were the oldest of friends it seemed; immortal friends with no worries of aging or death. They had a friendship that had lasted many lifetimes and Tristan saw fit to include me in those lifetimes – at his side as a vampire. Looking back, I don’t think it was because he loved me, but more so because he was so vain that he did not want my aging beauty to detract from his person. At the time, the absolute worst punishment he could have inflicted upon me was to make me his immortal lover – trapped in his affections for all time.

One moonlit evening he directed me to ‘bite him back’ during our fornication. I had no choice but to follow that instruction. As he tupped me within an inch of orgasm and then sank his fangs into my throat, I waited for the sweet release of contracting muscles and then bit into him, swallowing his vampire blood. Instantly my throat burned. He smirked at me when he saw the pain and surprise in my eyes. I reached for my throat with both hands, but then I blacked out and I know naught what happened until the dawn when I awoke a vampire.

I was alone in the bed as was the norm. I had not yet once woken wrapped in Tristan’s arms as I had in William’s. This morning I woke with such a dry throat that I immediately climbed from bed and filled a cup with water from the amphora in the corner. The cupful did nothing to quench my thirst. I got dressed and tried to leave, but I had been bound within a line Tristan drew around our tent every night when it was set up, and when we moved on to a new destination, my place was in the back of a set wagon. I was imprisoned by his words. I moved to the line outside the tent and was stopped in my tracks, not only by the line drawn in the sand, but also by the brightness of the sun and the loudness of the birds singing in the woods behind our camp. A cool breeze excited every inch of my exposed skin and I tingled all over. I looked out over the camp and could detect the smallest details at the greatest distances. Something was different about me this morning. I felt stronger and more aware of my body. Tristan had done something to me during the night and I could not recall what it was.

As the camp stirred in the dawning day, I stood trapped at my line waiting. I was not sure what I waited for until the page-boy walked towards me carrying a tray of food for my breakfast. I walked back into the tent as he approached, deafened by the sound of his heartbeat. He followed me in and placed the tray on the small table mid-tent. I could almost smell the blood in his veins and I could definitely see the pulse of his carotid artery just above the fleece of his collar. I moved between him and the door way blocking his path. He bowed and turned to leave, but I had other plans.

I reached for the crook of his elbow and pulled him tight against me. He was stunned and moved easily toward me. I held him tight and then against my own better judgement I bit into his neck. I felt the strangest sensation within my gums just prior to the taste of his blood in my mouth. I revelled in the flavour of him and knew that this was the cause of my unquenchable thirst – I needed to drink blood, human blood – Tristan had made me into a monster last night.

The man whimpered at first, but then relaxed into my arms. I drank mouthful after mouthful as his hot blood surged into my mouth. It was so rich and so desirable that I did not want to stop, even though I sensed his heart slowing. I lifted my bloodied mouth and looked down at the red ‘V’ that had spilled down my dress. I pushed him from my lap and sat staring at the boy whose blood I had almost completely drained. He had two huge puncture marks in his neck and I knew I was the cause of that. I lifted my fingertips to my mouth and felt the fangs which extended a considerable length longer than my other teeth.

I worried that I had killed the boy and it was instinct that drove my next action. I bit into my own wrist and offered it to his mouth. He was so weak, that I had to lift his head to the wound. He drank just a little before his eyes rolled back in his head and he appeared to die. Had I not been able to detect the faintest thrumming of his heart, I would have thought that I had in fact killed the boy. I turned his head to the side and directed some of my dripping blood into the puncture wounds on his neck and watched as they seemed to magically heal over. The marks on my wrist soon disappeared as well. I lifted the poor boy to my bed and let him sleep off his trouble while I cleaned the blood from my person and clothes. There would be consequences for my action – I was sure Tristan would inflict some other heinous punishment upon me for almost killing his page-boy. I was hopeful that he would recover before nightfall and I would have no questions to answer. At least I had quenched my thirst.

The first flash of a memory that was not my own took me quite by surprise and I gripped the tent pole for balance as my thoughts began to spiral out of control. I grappled to get them back under control, when another set of images not my own invaded my thoughts. I sat down as one after another the images came. There were places I had never been and things I had never seen, people I recognised and other who I didn’t. As the images began to subside, the voices began and I was convinced that I was losing my mind. Male voices, female voices, screams of children and a great cacophony of laughter, one after the other or multiple voices simultaneously they created a barrage in my brain. I crawled onto the floor and sat there curled up in a ball, hands over my ears trying to block out the noise, but I couldn’t. I rocked in the corner for hours it seemed and then suddenly everything went quiet again. The balance in my brain seemed to have been restored. I stood up on shaky legs and made my way to the tent flap.

To my utter astonishment I crossed the line that had, up until now, been holding me trapped within the tent with ease. It didn’t block my next step at all as it had over the past weeks that I had been Tristan’s sexual slave. I walked unhindered through the camp for the very first time. I swept between the tents and watched the people of the army’s great host working. Women cleaned clothes and cooked meals. Children played with wooden swords – training to become the next front line just as soon as they had the muscular strength to wield a real iron sword. The men, except for the wounded and the post-battle invalids, were all off preparing for the next bloodied battle. I ventured to wander toward the most regal tent amongst the crowd. It had to be that of Marcus – the commander of the rabble. He would surely be out with Tristan on the field somewhere.

I passed stealthily through the heavy flaps and found that Tristan and Marcus were indeed together, but they were not out upon the field carrying swords and armour – they were lying together naked in each other’s arms. Marcus held Tristan as William had once held me. I froze momentarily and then backed out of the tent, hoping that I had not disrupted the two great men. I stood listening outside the fabric to make sure neither had stirred and then I walked off back to my own tent, shaking my head at the revelation – Tristan was Marcus’ lover! He didn’t spend all day out with the troops in the field of battle. When he left my bed, he went directly to Marcus’. I couldn’t help the smile when I realised that Tristan was just as much a sex slave as I was.

When I entered my own tent I found the page-boy sleeping and decided that seeing as Tristan was in fact still in the camp, I had better not be caught with another man in my bed – even though it seemed Tristan might actually prefer it that way!

I picked up the boy, thinking I would struggle to move him, but he was not at all heavy and I carried him from the tent as though he was a small child. I hoped not to run into any other camp member as I slipped him into another tent down the way a little and then returned to my own. I pulled the bedding off the bed and put it in the basket as was usual for someone else to wash, as I was technically not able to leave the confines of the circle. I put clean covers on the bed and sat down in front of the tray of food the boy had prepared for me. I wasn’t at all hungry but thought I should at least make an attempt.

The food tasted fine and before I knew it I had eaten the whole lot despite the fact that I had not felt the least bit hungry. Granted it wasn’t a huge plate of food, but I had devoured it all the same. I had not recalled ever seeing Tristan eat, so was unsure that he had dined on anything but me since my arrival. Stories about vampires had been circulating for years. I had been warned against certain behaviours as a child for fear the monsters of the night would claim me. Had I known those stories were true and not just the weapons of nannies to get children to behave better, I might have taken more notice of them. As it was, my knowledge of the creature that I had become was very limited.

I could clearly eat food other than blood. I was strong and my senses seemed extra good today. I had heard about the thirst before and was unsurprised to discover that about myself. The magic that usually bound me, no longer had an effect. I made a mental note to keep track of all that I discovered as I learned how to be a vampire and then planned my escape.

We were soon to end our campaign. Tristan had said that when we arrived in Rome, I would reside in his house with him. I didn’t want that. Now that I had the power to leave, I desperately wanted to do so. I was still confused by my emotions regarding Tristan – I still felt a connection to him, but it had lessened greatly since I had awoken and tasted first blood. I packed and planned all day, preparing myself to steal away into the night, the moment Tristan left our bed. I braved the camp again mid-afternoon to search for weapons that I could carry and use – I found a dagger and another small knife. I had picked up a cross bow, but as I didn’t know how to reload it, it seemed useless to me and so I settled only for the dagger, the knife and a coil of rope. I did manage to find some chainmail small enough not to weigh me down – I suspected it belonged to one of the children I had seen practising their sword play earlier in the day. I wrapped all of my pilfered possessions in a large square cloth and tied a knot at the top. I hid the parcel beneath the bed and then removed my clothing and climbed naked beneath the covers as was the expectation when Tristan returned home.

As usual, just as the sun was setting he appeared through the tent flaps. He stripped his unbloodied armour from his body and then slipped into bed beside me. He eyed me suspiciously.

“How are you today?”

He never asked me how I was – I doubted he cared for such information. I looked at him quizzically, for I did not at first understand what he was asking…but then I recalled the thirst I had woken with this morning.

“I was very thirsty when I awoke, but am fine now,” I answered honestly.

“…and how did you quench that thirst?”

“…the page-boy was most helpful.”

He grunted, amused at my admission it seemed.

“Do you know what you are now?” He asked and manoeuvred himself above me, between my thighs.

“I am like you…a vampire,” I replied cautiously.

He nodded, clearly pleased with himself. I looked into his eyes and trembled as he impaled me with his hard erection. I gasped, quite involuntarily at the way that felt. Not because it was painful or bad, but because it felt so damn good! My entire body it seemed was more sensitive to every kind of stimulation. I opened myself up wider to him, hoping to feel more of him. He was not as well endowed as William and although he had commanded me to orgasm when he tupped me, it wasn’t the same as it had been when William had lovingly excited me into orgasm with his touch and his tenderness.

“You enjoy these new sensations I see,” Tristan told me, and he was right I did.

“Yes!” I said as I dug both my nails and my teeth into his shoulders. I arched against his final thrust and came much more intensely than I ever had with Tristan before now.

A scream echoed across the camp. I heard it as loudly as if it was right beside me. Tristan raised himself from my loins. He sensed the air and then stood.

“Another vampire!” He dressed quickly and left the tent.

Another vampire! Of course! All the pieces began to fall into place. I was now a vampire, and I may have made the page-boy one too. Had he attacked someone as I had attacked him – was that the cause of the scream? It wasn’t long before I was to find out as Tristan returned sword in hand.

“You turned the page-boy?” He asked but it was more menacing and came across like a threat as he waved his sword in my direction.

“Did I? I didn’t mean to – how did I do that?” I asked, honestly quite unaware of what I had done.

“You drank from him and then allowed him to drink from you…you slut!”

I knew my eyes bulged at his accusation. It was true – I had drank from him, and then allowed him to drink from me, but only because I had felt so guilty for almost killing the man by taking so much of his blood.

Tristan was angry – so very angry – he was always mean, but I had never seen him filled with rage as he was at this moment. What should I do? Where could I hide that he would not find me? Was it possible that I could outrun him? I doubted it – I knew not where to run. Instead I rolled out of the other side of the bed and reached underneath it for my sack of possessions.

“What did you do to the page-boy?” I asked, my voice quavering as I ducked low.

“I cut his head off – we cannot have a rogue vampire running about the country side,” he replied.

“You cut his head off?” I asked suspiciously.

“Yes that is the method for killing an unwelcome vampire.”

“Oh…I did not know a vampire could be killed.”

“Mostly they cannot – decapitation and mercury poisoning are really the only ways to ensure death – this is why I will need to cut your wicked head off this night.”

Again my eyes bulged – only the bed stood between this crazed vampire and my safety. I tugged at my bundle and then thrust my hand inside reaching for the dagger. It was quite beautiful. It had a golden handle and was encrusted with jewels. Of course, I had no need of its beauty, merely its sharpened blade. I had no idea how I was to get to Tristan’s throat without him getting to mine first. His reach with the sword was far greater than mine with the dagger. He jumped on the bed. I turned and cut a line down the tent fabric and then stepped quickly through it. He laughed, clearly expecting me to be trapped by the circle but I easily stepped across it – and although it pained me to give up William’s ring – I suspected now that Tristan had had some form of enchantment placed upon it and that was what had caused me to submit to him. I tossed the ring in his direction and fled into the woods behind. He screamed at me and ran full speed after me. I ran faster and faster, surprised at my own speed. He came after me, crashing through the undergrowth behind me. I ran straight off the edge of a cliff and plummeted with a high pitched scream, down, down to the raging river far below.

I hit the water hard. It slapped me as though I had collided with rock. My body stung from the impact and the cold of the water seemed to make it worse. It took me a minute to catch my breath. I looked up through the darkness to see Tristan at the top of the cliff. Would he continue to follow me? Would he run along the cliff edge, following the course of the river or would he dive into the inky waters below. I ducked my head beneath the water’s surface and didn’t wait to find out. I swam along the river, moving with the current and then across the river once I was a significant distance downstream. When I was sure not to be seen by even his vampire eyes, I poked my head out of the water and surveyed my surroundings. The river had widened into a lake and the water’s flow had slowed considerably. I swam across to the farthest bank and then pulled myself out upon the rocky shore. I was free!

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