Blood and War

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Chapter 14 - Truth

There was so much more to Catherine, so much depth and so many flashes of humanity. Dillon never lived in such proximity to a vampire and never really understood how the humanity found its way out when it could.

It was somehow disturbing to know that this vampire, at times so inhuman and remote, suffered from all the same insecurities, and fears as humans.

She could be distraught just like anyone else, and he sensed that she was hurt many times in the past. Despite her race, Catherine was just a woman underneath it all. For all of her years, she was still just a girl, hurt and alone.

Dillon felt her trembling lessen and stop. He could feel her heart beat, and another myth died. Catherine’s skin was only just cooler than his, and her breathing slowly became steadier, more even. She felt human and not. The sheathed strength of her was there even in repose.

“A man who takes from a woman what she does not offer or will not give willingly is not a man. My father raped my mother that is why her father gave her to mine in marriage.

She was tarnished, and no other would have her if they found out. I was born eight months later,” Dillon let go of her. She didn’t even know when her arms had gone around him, instead of hanging down her sides in rigid surprise.

Their eyes met again as if drawn by some invisible force and Catherine allowed her arms to release him. She was embarrassed, but he took her firmly by the shoulders and kept their eyes locked. It was as if something inside of them was speaking without words.

“Hellenic has hoodwinked your elders, but in my lands, we have seen his true face. He raids in our villages, and we cannot prove it. Hellenic has a taste for human blood and young maidens.

He dishonors them, and then he takes their blood before he gives them to his men. The pieces are left scattered,” Dillon informed her, and the horror on Catherine’s face was genuine. Dillon could see it, and he could see she was not aware of these facts.

“We burn what’s left out of fear,” Dillon admitted, avoiding her eyes.

He seemed so human to her then. In contrast, Catherine felt so very vampire and so ancient, almost alien compared to him. Little could highlight the glaring differences between their worlds more clearly than his words and the implications behind them.

“You need not burn them and deny them a grave,” she muttered almost angrily. She mourned the loss of people whom she did not know, but whose fate she knew intimately.

Catherine knew their beliefs. She knew that a body not buried in consecrated ground was considered damned. She understood their fear.

She assumed that they feared made creatures, new-born vampires. Catherine knew how centuries of living side by side with vampires taught them to fear the destruction such beings could cause.

“It is more than fear Catherine. No church would bury them, even if they were not drained of blood,” Dillon’s words made her frown before understanding dawned and she suddenly felt ill, tarnished as she was herself.

It was because they were shamed, robbed of virtue and thus condemned to die as unrepentant sinners, unclean, beyond saving...

“I’ve seen the dead walk?” It was a question more than a statement from him. It was meant to distract her from her understandable anger and pain. It was supposed to distract her from the growing darkness in her eyes.

“Feeding and making is not the same thing. Something ripped apart is just torn apart,” Catherine shrugged, and he nodded.

She felt cold inside and a blazing anger burned within her chest, all at the same time. Her blood beat a tattoo through her veins. One day Hellenic will pay for his sins, and she could only hope that she lived long enough to witness it, or better yet, end him herself...

“I’ve seen a woman stoned to death and burned because she allowed a vampire to taste her flesh. It was in the East,” it said a lot for a man to even admit he visited the place and returned alive.

Catherine found a new respect growing inside her for him, but she wanted him to know the truth for himself. With that thought, her mind was made up.

“Would you trust me?” Catherine asked. She knew that some things could not be explained. She opened her arms, and he hesitated before he leaned into her embrace. Dillon was uneasy but too proud and too curious to admit it.

Catherine hesitated too, not out of fear, but she felt uncertain of how he would react. She tilted his head. He felt her strength, and yet she was oddly gentle, almost as if he were fragile. Compared to her, he was. The thought did not sit well with Dillon.

“It will hurt,” even as he heard the warning, her fangs sank into his neck with enough force to make him jerk. His immense strength was as nothing to hers. It was a shock to him, both her bite and her real strength.

Dillon forced himself not to struggle, but he felt the razor sharp fangs inside his jugular. He knew what would happen if she chose to rip them through his flesh.

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