Razed

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Chapter 14

Laurissa wanted to feel the wind in her face and experience her speed. She wondered how far she could run before she tired. She ran out of the manor past the women and south. She ran as fast as she could, keeping her power running through her. Several farms were nearby. She did not stop to investigate. She learned her lesson the last time. She did not want to stumble into a house full of vampires stronger than her.

She ran through several Patches of woods. The trees stood tall, and the night creatures screamed warnings as she ran past. She kept running until she broke a sweat. She immerged from a small wooded area and saw a large village. It is still a few miles away. It looked small to her. She turned around and could not see the manor she guessed she ran a hundred miles. She felt amazing. If she could run this far and vampires grew stronger as they grew, then she could run further still later in life. She decided to go to the village to see what it was.

The village had a large arch over the entrance welcoming it’s visitors. It is very late at night, and the village slept peacefully. It seemed much bigger than Madwell. It was mostly homes and trade businesses. Signs hung on the doors, telling customers what they specialized in. This village had a tailor, smith, a place that sold pottery or grass baskets. Laurissa walked by several taverns that were dark as its owners slept.

It took her an hour to cross the village. Beyond the village were several farms. One stood out. Its lights were still on. Laurissa wondered if vampire lived in there. She did not want to risk being caught. She was not sure how well known Lord Dunkan was here. Triston seemed to follow Lord Dunkan. These vampires may not. She is not strong enough to defend herself.

Dawn would be upon her soon. She decided to get a little sleep before returning to Madwell. Perhaps the town will awaken soon. She ran to the nearby patch of woods and found a tree to lean against.

The smell of freshly baked bread woke her. The sky is clear and painted with deep reds and purples.

Laurissa stood and stretched. Lord Dunkan will be waking soon. She wondered if he would be upset with her. It does not matter. He did not say she could not explore the area. She will return at dusk as instructed. Laurissa walked into the town and listened. People were waking up and enjoying breakfast before a busy day. Laurissa saw a woman walking along the path. “Excuse me. What town is this.”

“You have reached Bergen.” She looked intently at Laurissa. “I suggest you return to your master.”

“Are you a vampire?”

The woman’s eyes glowed, and she growled, “Go back to your master, young one, or you will regret it!”

“I do not understand. What have I done wrong?”

The woman pulsed power and ran, taking Laurissa’s arm with her. The pull caught Laurissa off guard, and she nearly tripped over her own feet. The woman ran, dragging Laurissa behind her to the small patch of woods she came from.

“Where are you from?” She finally asked.

“Lord Dunkan’s manor. He is north over here. ..”

“I know where he is located. Does he come here? “

“I am uncertain. I am only here exploring.”

The woman let out a smirk and crossed her arms. “You are foolish to come here alone. There are males that would enjoy playing with you.”

“Why? I have done nothing to deserve such a thing.”

“Sit with me a moment, young one. I do not have a lot of time.” Laurissa sat on the ground in front of her and listened. The woman studied Laurissa for a moment before speaking. “It seems Lord Dunkan has not broken you yet. How old are you?”

“This will be my third day.”

This surprised her. “How are you here on your third day?”

“I ran.” Laurissa said gleefully. “It is a wonderful feeling!”

“Are you sure you are only a vampire for three days?”

“Yes, why?”

“You should not have made it this far. You are much too young to run with your power. I tell you, young one, you must leave here immediately. Be warned. If any male vampire catches you, you will entertain him for as long as he pleases. The males of my house are not forgiving, nor are they gentle. You are trespassing here. You must leave and take caution of your surroundings.”

“I do not understand why they would be angry with me. I have done nothing to disrupt the village.”

The look on the female’s face told her not to continue. She is probably older than her since she seems to know where her growth should be. That means she is stronger than her. Laurissa did not want to anger the female.

“I will head your warning and return home. Thank you for your kindness.”

“You are welcome, young one. Good luck in your journey.” She said as she stood to leave.

Laurissa pulsed power and ran back to the manor. She can run faster than someone else her age. This is interesting to her. She wanted to open the book and learn more. It is still in her bed chambers. This encouraged her to go faster.

She began to tire just before the manor. She could see it in the distance. She felt very hungry. It is midday by the time she reached the manor exhausted. Five women sat around a table and watched Laurissa walk past them. They did not speak to her. They only watched as she passed them.

Laurissa went to her chambers and found the book. The door to her room opened with a loud bang just as she reached for the journal. Lord Dunkan came in and quickly grabbed Laurissa’s face. Her mind exploded as Lord Dunkan’s tendril entered her mind.

“Where did you go?” he projected.

The furiousness of his voice frightened her.

“I ran to the village south of here, master. I wanted to see how far I could run.”

“What village?”

“The vampire I spoke to said it was Broaden. Why are you angry? You said I can go where I please as long as I returned each evening.”

“Do not lie to me, Laurissa! Where did you go?” His anger burned through the tendril.

“I speak the truth, Master.”

Lord Dunkan found her tiny memory tendril and touched it with his. Laurissa screamed and tried to get away. He had a firm grip on her. He watched as she ran and talked to the female. He recognized the village. The loan farm is master Ulrich. The female must have been one of his. The female did not give any pertinent information.

Lord Dunkan’s hand went to Laurissa’s face. “You betrayed me, Laurissa. You are mine and no other!”

“Forgive me, Master. I was only curious.”

“You wish to run? Run!” He growled.

Laurissa looked at him, confused. His hand met her face with jaw-breaking force. “Do not make me tell you again!” Laurissa pulsed power and ran out of the room. Lord Dunkan followed closely behind. She ran west this time. She saw woods and slowed.

“Do not slow down, Laurissa. The moment you stop, I will bring you inches from death!” His cold, dangerous voice echoed in her mind. The venom scared her. Her heart raced as she continued running from Lord Dunkan. She was already tired from her journey last night. She ran into the woods and dodged branches and jumped fallen logs. As she jumped, she could tell she could jump higher. She continued past the wooded area and began to tire even more. Lord Dunkan grabbed her arm and hit her hard. She cried out and fell. “Run, my dear!”

She tried to get up. Her legs felt like jelly. Lord Dunkan’s foot kicked her side. Tears streamed down her face. She has to get up and continue west. More woods sprang up, and the sound of water could be heard. Laurissa can hardly breathe. Her hunger gnawed at her. She can feel her power failing. She ran to the water with Lord Dunkan close behind. Just as the river showed itself, she tripped on a log and fell. She could go no further. Lord Dunkan stood over her.

“Very impressive, my dear.” He laughed and sat next to Laurissa. She can hardly breathe. She felt sick to her stomach. Dusk is fast approaching.

Lord Dunkan allowed Laurissa to catch her breath, then stood up. He silently left to the nearby farmhouse. He took one of the humans and fed, then continued eastward toward his home. Laurissa silently followed him. She displayed great power running as long and as fast as she did. He knew Laurissa was strong. He wondered what other features would come stronger than it should. He would push her harder than he has pushed any of his children. He wanted to break her and make her power grow. The more she used her power, the stronger she will become. She will never be more powerful than him, but he wanted to see what secrets she held. There is definitely something more to her than a simple female vampire.

“I expect you to be at the manor before dawn, Laurissa. Do not disappoint me.” Lord Dunkan said.

“I am hungry, Master. May I feed and rest first.”

“You did not return to the manor by dusk.”

“You told me to run or you would beat me.”

“Yes. I did not say where to run. You could have simply run circles around the manor. Now you must return before dawn.” He pulsed power and ran into the distance.

Laurissa is very hungry. She thought to turn around and feed off a human. If Lord Dunkan found out, she would be punished severely. She did not want to go through that again. She pulsed her power and ran as quickly as she dared. She is unsure how far she can go. She must pace herself if she has any hope of making it back to the manor.

Running became an agony. Every step she took seemed to make her legs more and more heavy. She finally made it to the other side of the woods west of the manor. She can barely see the large stone building. It rivaled any house she saw. Dawn had already come, and the sun is fully above the horizon. She wondered what fate waited for her. Perhaps she should risk leaving Lord Dunkan and try to survive on her own. No, the female she spoke to said there are other males who would capture her. Laurissa wondered if she is doomed to Lord Dunkan’s violent nature.

She walked slowly toward the manor breathing heavily. She felt faint. The coolness of the tall grass called to her. Her legs gave out within a mile of the manor. She could go no further. Her mind went unconscious as she wondered again, what will her punishment be.

Lord Dunkan watched as she struggled to make it to the manor. Two Houses were nearby. He did not want Laurissa to attract attention while he was away from her. This one would be desired by any male who looked at her. Not because of her appearance, but because of the power she has. He could almost taste it.

She appears regal, combining that with the power she processes makes her a prize to be desired. Laurissa belonged to him. He will not allow another vampire to interfere with his study. The struggle she has is well beyond her age. New vampires that were a decade or more old could not run as far or as quickly as she could.

The woods became quiet as he watched her run through. It seemed to be listening to her labored breath. He wondered just how far she was going to go before her power left her. He could see she used it to keep standing. Her speed decreased to a very slow walk by the time she reached his territory. Laurissa’s features had suffered. She looks older than she truly is. Dark circles formed around her eyes. Her power is extremely low, and yet she still fought to return. Lord Dunkan stayed in the shadows of the trees as Laurissa dragged her feet toward the manor. She knew she failed him. Lord Dunkan did not expect her to reach the manor. He expected her to feed and rest instead. Her defiance has always been strong, and yet she continued to want to please him. She was this way as a child. Always proud of herself when she accomplished something that pleased him. She only defied him when she felt his actions were morally wrong. Is this why she returned? Feeding off him and returning to the manor by a certain time did not harm her?

Lord Dunkan watched as she collapse in the tall grass and waited until she gained consciousness. Her body will rest and be able to function for another day. If she does not feed tonight, she will die.

The vampire’s body is an amazing phenomenon. It defies logic and will sometimes break rules to continue living. As one uses power, the body weakens. Once the power is used, the body dies. However, vampires seem to store a reserve when they are under attack. Once their power is used and they fall unconscious, their body allows the reserve to fuel the body one last time. It gives them time to feed. Of course, allowing oneself to reach the point of unconsciousness is dangerous. It leaves you venerable to the enemy.

Laurissa will wake and feel completely drained of energy. It will be a struggle to stand, let alone find and command a human to feed on. He wondered if she would be able to accomplish such a thing. Her power is beyond where it should be.

“Wake Laurissa!” She heard Lord Dunkan’s smooth voice in her mind. She opened her eyes to find it was nearly dusk. ’You will come here at dusk each day for a lessonYou did not return to the manor by dusk.’

She wordlessly rolled onto her hands and knees and struggled to stand. She had to get to the manor to feed. She could feel her body begin to shut down. She wondered why Lord Dunkan did not help her. Did he want her to die?

“You will not perish as long as you return to the manor, my dear.”

How did he hear her thoughts? She could not hear his. She managed to keep focused and keep her feet moving toward the manor. The same group of women sat in the sitting room. Something about them appeared different. She is too tired to investigate. They all looked at her, then stood when Lord Dunkan entered the room.

“Make sure she stays awake, my dear.” He projected to Keres and turned around, closing the door behind him.

Laurissa noticed he left her and did not care. She only needed to get to Lord Dunkan’s chambers. She will be safe there and will be able to feed.

“Come, young one. I will help you.” Keres stood up and held out a hand, then flinched back as if she got burned.

Laurissa ignored her and continued to Lord Dunkan’s chambers. His bed never looked so inviting. The memories of his training did not deter her from laying on it. Her mind drifted off, and her body relaxed.

“Stay awake, young one.” Keres’s kind voice came to her. Laurissa looked into her face. She vaguely remembered she was the one who cared for her like a mother growing up. This is Keres, whom she has forgotten. The male said Keres is the only vampire she ever talked to. Laurissa smiled a weak smile and held a hand out to her. Keres accepted it and squeezed hard, making Laurissa cry out.

“Do not look at me in such away!”

Laurissa yanked her hand away and stopped smiling. She did not understand why this angered her.

“What…”

“Do not speak!” Keres yelled and began to leave the room. “You will stay awake until your master returns.” The door slammed, making the walls vibrate.

Muffles of voices and a loud thud came from the hallway. A loud scream came from across the hall.

Laurissa jumped and went to the door. She quietly opened it and peeked around the corner. The other women gathered around another doorway to a room. A pair of Keres’s feet laid on the ground, pointing up to the ceiling. She dared not interfere. She quickly closed the door and went back to the bed.

Lord Dunkan came into the room with glowing blue eyes that showed his displeasure.

“As payment for your meal, you will scrub this manor from top to bottom. You will not speak to my females as you clean their rooms. Your disrespect is unacceptable, Laurissa.” He walked toward her and forced his wrist into her mouth. The lemon scent came to her as she drank heavily.

“That is enough, my dear. Go complete your duties.” Lord Dunkan said as he took his wrist away.

It was not enough. Laurissa still felt hungry and weak. Her body only felt strong enough to walk and complete simple tasks. She left the room and went to the kitchen area to grab a pail to begin cleaning the manor. The other women sat silently, watching Laurissa, and did not offer to help. Laurissa looked at each one, wondering what it was she saw. She would need to study her book further.

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