“You must wake and feed, Laurissa.” She faintly heard Dunkan’s voice. She blinked open her eyes and saw him standing with a female. She could feel something from Lord Dunkan she has not felt before. She looked closer at him, willing the feeling to present itself. Lord Dunkan stiffened and said, “Turn the human, my dear.”
Laurissa relaxed and closed her eyes. Death’s scream crawled through her body and mind. Her body went rigid, and she began screaming, then it ended almost as soon as it started. Laurissa’s body relaxed and began shaking.
Lord Dunkan pulled a stool to the bath and sat behind her. He felt conflicted. Killing Laurissa seemed a waste. Punishing Laurissa only sends her mind further into her madness. She is still of use to him. There is power there that she has not tapped. Death will not kill her entirely. He must use a different tactic to achieve his goal.
He took a rag and began gently cleansing her neck and shoulders and then down her chest. He did not linger, he simply washed her body then began washing her hair.
“Where did you get that sword?” she finally asked.
“I obtained it from a rogue I met fifteen years ago. He was traveling from a small village a few miles north of here called Norstrumn.”
“Did you kill him?’
“You should know the answer to that.”
Laurissa huffed in annoyance. Lord Dunkan sees a potential vampire in each human. He allows his vampires to play with the humans in anyway they please as long as the human does not perish. Laurissa asked if he killed the rogue simply to start a conversation. Lord Dunkan was not obliging her. “Did you simply command him to give it to you?” Laurissa said with an edge to her voice.
Lord Dunkan smiled at Laurissa’s brazen disrespect. He has killed older, stronger vampires for much less. This female is something special. He simply could not find what it was that knows to be true. “Naturally, then I fed on him. His blood was rich and gave me such power for a few days. I have never tasted his likeness.” Lord Dunkan paused and stared at the blond hair he had in his grip.
Laurissa’s virgin blood and the taste of her after she feasted on the virgin was the same richness he felt from the rogue. Granted, her blood is weaker; however, her blood is richer than any human blood he was forced to taste.
“I searched for him, but I never found him again. He has not returned to collect his sword.” Lord Dunkan continued after he collected his thoughts.
“Why did you not simply keep him once you tasted him?”
“I did not understand the power I received until my body digested it.”
After Lord Dunkan finished washing Laurissa’s hair, he grabbed a towel and waited for Laurissa to step out of the bath. His blood was very similar to Laurissa’s He remembered the night he took Laurissa. One must drain the blood from the human until the heart begins to flutter and a faint scent of death begins to emanate from it. Laurissa’s blood was rich and bold, very similar to the rogue’s blood.
“I have been considering something.” His voice had changed. The cold, dangerous voice was no longer dangerous. It still had an edge, but it bordered on respect. Laurissa eyed him, trying to discover what he was up to. He is keeping his emotions away from her somehow.
“Every vampire turns a human eventually. It is how we grow as a species. Turn this female I have selected for you, and she will be completely yours. She will answer only to you and will not know my bed. You may teach her as you see fit without my interference.”
“Why would you do this?”
“Two reasons. The first being, I am still studying you. As you teach her and perhaps learn from her, I will also be learning. Tonight you have proven that education and a sharp intellect can best a stronger vampire. Second, vampires do not do well alone. Some prefer to live lives as rogues but return to a house after a few years. We may be territorial, but we are social creatures and crave attention. Would you not agree?”
“I am not alone, my Lord.”
Lord Dunkan cupped her face in his hands. His blue eyes softened, and thanksgiving went through her tendril with a mixture of fear and sadness.
“Not yet, my dear. You will be one day. When that day comes, you will have a companion who trusts you.”
Laurissa studied Lord Dunkan’s eyes and tendril. Conflict tore through him. He fought admiration for her. He seems to be angry and sad. Lord Dunkan kept his thoughts silent and his emotions from flowing freely.
“Release me. Let that day be today. End your control over me.” Laurissa said, testing his reaction. Could he be changing?
Lord Dunkan’s posture stiffened as he looked down his sharp nose. “The only way that will happen is when one of us dies. I gave you my word I would end your life when I have learned all I can from you, my dear, and you have promised to kill me once you discover how. It is a race to the death. Keep me interested, and perhaps you will live long enough to accomplish your goal.”
Laurissa gazed at the girl behind Lord Dunkan then returned her gaze to him. Realization of what she felt came to her.
“You can see your death.”
Lord Dunkan did not deny it, nor did he respond. He actually cares. “Beneath that thick beastly hide, you may actually have a heart, my Lord.” He watched as Laurissa gracefully exited the tub, gently taking the towel and wrapping it around her body.
Laurissa took the girl’s hand and led her to the bed in the training room. She is a petite girl with sandy blond hair and hazel eyes. She is slightly older than Laurissa. “Does she have children?”
“No. She is recently married and has not yet conceived.”
“Tell me your name, girl.” Laurissa commanded.
Laurissa listened to the girl’s heartbeat. It beat rapidly. It sang of love and life. How could she deny a human of such joy? Something about the girl did not attract her. Laurissa was not even attracted to her physically. This is not one she wanted as a companion.
“I will not turn this girl.” Lord Dunkan’s rage boiled. Laurissa stood and faced him, shielding the girl. “Allow me to choose one of my own.”
“Tomorrow night, I expect you to have one.” He growled with his eyes blazing.
“It will be done, my Lord.”
Satisfied, Dunkan took the girl and fed off her, then led her to the door to the manor. “You walked in your sleep. Go home to your husband.”
‘No human has set foot in this manor and lived.’ A race to the death, indeed.
If this change is any indication of who he could be, then Laurissa may not need to kill him. Hatred is a bitter vial thing that can destroy a heart. Love conquers all.
Lord Dunkan returned to the training room, closed the door then undressed. He is eerily quiet, almost mournful, as he embraced Laurissa and gently guided her to the bed. He offered her his neck to feed on and projected his power of passion through the tendril. He slowly slipped into her, looking for comfort as she fed. Moans of ecstasy escaped his lips as his body went rigid and chilled. He loosened the leash he had on her as He allowed her to continue until she was done. He would not stop her tonight.
She responded in kind and used her body to please him as his mate should. Laurissa felt the release and was thankful for it. She knew he could overpower her even in his weakness. Draining him of his life’s blood would not be possible. She must find another way to be free of him. The new demeanor of Lord Dunkan meant she would need to study him closely. He will do things that are unexpected. She has a foot in the doorway, as the saying goes. His cruelty may have its limits.
She waited until Lord Dunkan was asleep, then quietly left the manor and went to Madwell. She lost valuable time tonight. She will only have three precious hours before she would need to return undetected. Despite Lord Dunkan’s gentleness and the small victory she had, she knew he would not change his mind about the vampire domination. She must work quickly to free as many humans as she could. She will still defy Lord Dunkan every chance she gets.
The town is quiet as everyone slept. Laurissa acted quickly, warning the villagers to flee and telling them to spread the news to everyone they knew. Several houses were already empty. She is unsure why Dunkan did not notice.
Just before dawn, she returned to the manor and quietly slipped into bed next to Dunkan.
“Where have you been?”
“Out for a walk, my Lord.”
“Do not lie to me.” he said calmly. His smooth cold voice had returned. There is no stench of deceit coming from Laurissa. She truly was walking outside.
“I went for a walk in Madwell.” She repeated, giving Lord Dunkan only a little more.
Lord Dunkan rolled over onto Laurissa and pinned her down. “Do you think me stupid or blind? I have noticed the village population declining. Where have you been!”
“If you already know the answer, then why ask?”
Lord Dunkan Pulsed power and thrust into Laurissa. The pain of it caught Laurissa off guard and made her yelp. His eyes glowed with anger. “You are infuriating! I ask a simple question, and you refuse to answer!” He pulsed power and thrust again. Laurissa began laughing. She is in control now. “Oh, yes, my dear.” She reflected his voice.
Lord Dunkan stopped and looked into her eyes. There is uncharted power there and a madness that began to cloud her eyes. A brewing storm threatened to lash out and utterly destroy him. He growled and gave another quick thrust, then got out of bed. “Tell me what it is you have been doing. I wish to hear you say it.” His demeanor calmed as he spoke to her almost as an equal.
“I have been warning the humans to leave their homes and flee for their lives.”
“I warned you I would not allow you to succeed, my Lord.” Lord Dunkan grunted and continued dressing. Laurissa sat on the edge of the bed. “I understand the need to feed. Humans grow cattle to feed off of and breed to create more life. Every living thing has this need to feed and reproduce. It is the same for the vampire. However, no species fights to entirely consume the other. The great cats and wolves do not gorge themselves on their prey. The humans see their chickens and sheep as nothing more than animals. They have a disregard for the animal’s feelings, yet they do not slaughter every beast because they hate them, you, my Lord, are going too far. There must be a balance.”
“You would defend these vermin and deny them eternal life?”
I would defend any living thing under attack. If there was a threat to our species, I would defend us as well. You are not simply giving the humans eternal life. You are destroying an entire species, and those left will be slaves to your needs.”
Lord Dunkan paced the room listening to her. “Very interesting.”
“What is interesting?”
“You, my dear. No vampire thinks the way you do.”
“Then perhaps it is time for a change.”
“Indeed.” He paused and studied her for a moment, then took a deep breath. Her weakness is most certainly the humans.” You will select your human today. You are forbidden from leaving this manor after dusk. Believe me, my dear, I have ways of ensuring you comply.” Lord Dunkan turned and left the room.
Laurissa felt pride in her victory. He will wish he killed her long ago. She laid back on the bed to sleep for a couple hours. Then went back to Madwell.