The next morning, Laurissa woke before Lord Dunkan and quickly got up to dress. Lord Dunkan chuckled at her haste.
“I am pleased you are amused.” She scoffed then left.
Laurissa gently knocked on the door where Edna slept.
“Enter.” Came the answer.
Laurissa opened the door and walked in. “Greetings, Edna.”
“Good Morning, Laurissa.”
“Did you enjoy yourself last night?”
“Yes, very much. Is that how it always feels?”
“I believe so. Fresh blood recharges us. It is when we are most powerful.”
“You don’t know?”
“I am afraid not. I have other means of nourishment.”
“Aren’t you vampire?”
“Yes. Please respect my privacy and do not ask questions about it.”
Edna came closer to Laurissa with a sympathetic look. “I’m sorry, Laurissa.” She touched the side of Laurissa arm. “Are you ok? Do you need help?”
“Edna, I am warning you for the last time. Do not ask me personal questions. My life is for me alone.” She growled. Laurissa eyes glowed with anger.
“It’s that Lord Dunkan isn’t it?”
Laurissa struck Edna across her cheek, making her step back, shocked. “You will learn respect, Edna! Keep your thoughts to yourself. Your training has ended for the day. Stay in this room and think about your next action.”
Laurissa left, closing the door behind her. Lord Dunkan’s laughter filled her tendril. “You did not handle that very well, my dear.”
“I will not lie to her. She must learn respect.”
“Ah yes, we do remember that lesson, do we not?”
“I will not be cruel.”
“We shall see.” He laughed.
Laurissa pulsed power and went to her woods. She darkened her tendril and connected deep into the earth. She allowed its joy to soothe her as she watched the white river pass by. She stayed this way for an hour, studying the rhythm and trying to answer her question. It pulsed like a heartbeat. There is no sadness, only joy. It is contagious. Laurissa felt her heart lighten and followed the river with her mind. It seemed to go on forever.
She pulled out slowly and discovered it will soon be dusk. She returned to the manor and saw Lord Dunkan’s entire family in the sitting room. Three females sat around the room with their charges and watched her as she entered the room. She could sense fear and respect come from them. As she met their eyes, she could also see hatred. They blamed her for the death of Thana. Triston sat near the fireplace and smiled at her when her eyes met his. He had a rather large sheepish grin.
“My Lord, am I still bound to silence among your vampire?”
“You may speak to them. You have learned more than they have. Perhaps they will learn something from you.”
“Do you wish me to teach them the meaning of freedom and life?”
“They are liable to kill you.” Lord Dunkan laughed.
Laurissa approached the male. His eyes darted behind her, then back. “What do you find amusing?”
“Do not lie to me. I can smell your fear.”
“Do not assume I am afraid of you, girl.”
“Then what is it?”
A loud crash and a scream was heard from the back rooms. Triston pointed a thumb in the direction of the noise. “None of us has ever starved our charge. You are ruthless.” He laughed.
Laurissa glared at him making his fear thicken, then turned to the females. “Your hatred is misplaced. Lord Dunkan is master here and knows everything that goes on. He was here, in his chambers that day I took Thana’s life. In fact, it was his command to kill her. He took me to the stone building and forced me to skin Adrian and starve poor Zillah. Your Lord forced my hand into Zillah’s chest while she hung in shackles!
“The only reason he stopped a male from touching you, Keres, was to gain the male’s land. You were simply bait.
“It is Lord Dunkan you should be angry with. He created the situation for his enjoyment and experiment of the female vampire.” Laurissa approached them. “Heed my warning, all of you.” She met the vampire’s and the charges’ eyes. “Lord Dunkan will destroy you if you remain under his care.”
They were all silent as another loud crash was heard. Laurissa left the sitting room and composed herself, then quickly opened the door. The door hit Edna as it swung open. Laurissa stood very still and did not show any emotion. She watched Edna nurse her forehead as she approached her.
“I grow hungry, Laurissa.” She stood silently. “Forgive me for intruding in your affairs.”
“You are forgiven, young one. However, you must serve out the consequences. You will learn to heed my warning and listen to what I say.”
“Yes, Laurissa.” She said sadly.
“You will not perish tonight. Your canter is disturbing the house. Meditate, if you must, but you will stay here. We will resume your training tomorrow.”
“I will do as you ask.” She said as she bowed her head.
“Good night Edna.”
Laurissa closed the door, then went to the sitting room and sat next to Tristan. The room was completely silent. The air stunk of fear.
“Which do you find more cruel. Loss of one meal and isolation for one day, or Lord Dunkan’s sword draining your life to inches of death?”
Tristin went pale. “I am not your charge. Do not make the mistake of schooling me, girl.”
“I simply asked a question.”
Tristian’s hand met her face, knocking her out of the chair. He stood over her. “Now, who is lying? Get out of my sight!”
Laurissa stood slowly. The smack was weak compared to Dunkan’s attacks. “As you wish.” The fear in him was thick. He did not strike her out of anger. She smiled a knowing smile and turned to leave to Lord Dunkan’s chambers. Males truly are prideful and stubborn. When she freed herself, she will build her own family and teach them humility.
“Humility is a weakness.”
“Only if you are unwise on how to use it. Humility can be a very powerful ability.”
“You know nothing.”
“I will not argue with you.” Lord Dunkan was stunned.” Do not mistake my silence for acceptance. I disagree with you; however, I also know I cannot change your mind. I will not waste my time trying.” Understanding came from him. Lord Dunkan entered the room and undressed. “It seems your charge has her tendril.”
“Yes. Her language has changed. I will be working with her tomorrow.”
Lord Dunkan approached Laurissa and offered her his wrist. After she fed, Lord Dunkan went to his study.
“My fangs have now bitten into five separate humans. Why do you insist I continue feeding off you?”
“It is unfortunate that they are tainted. I will still gain pleasure from you, Laurissa. Do not ask about it again.”
Laurissa supposed it did not matter. She is tempted to simply feed as she pleases. She told herself she would defy Lord Dunkan in everything. He can no longer threaten her. She could simply trap him in this house. No, he will simply use the power of the sword to kill her, and she has a vow to fulfill. She will become free.
Dunkan’s sword lay on the floor near the window. Laurissa sat on the floor in front of it and studied it. Lord Dunkan listened to her thoughts of defiance. He was surprised it did not anger him. He liked listening to her mind work. She may be naïve, but her intelligence rivals his own master. She will be a vampire to be feared.
Her reasoning is sound. Her mind continues to work to find solutions to free herself. She fights for freedom from him and his house. She does not realize other masters are far more cruel than him.
Master Kissar is one such master. He took his training as a young vampire to the extreme and practiced those same tactics on any vampire in his care. It is as if he is punishing his father for the torture he went through. His females die quicker and in more anguish than anything he has put Laurissa through. One female went mad. He locked her in a prison for a month. She could not see or hear. She was only allowed enough blood to remain alive every three days. In her madness, she began clawing away her flesh little by little until the pain was so great Master Kissar was forced to take her life. The female had begged for mercy. Kissar would not give it to her.
When Lord Dunkan asked why he tortured his female, he simply said she was turned by one of his males. It was not her punishment, but his. The male was forced to stay near her jail and listen to her wails. Lord Dunkan knows of the bond that takes place once a vampire turns a human. He does not allow that bond to control him. For some males, that bond is stronger and cannot be ignored. It seems Laurissa’s bond to her charge is stronger than any he has seen before. She protects her charge as a fierce mother bear.
“What sort of metal is this?” she asked.
“It is unknown.”
“Did the rogue tell you about it?”
“How did you discover its power?”
“That is a something I will keep to myself.”
“Fair enough. May I look at it?”
Lord Dunkan studied her for a moment. Satisfied Laurissa was only curious, he unsheathed the sword and laid it on the floor in front of her.
The sword is a mat grey with a dark grey center. The dark grey center is shaped as the outer blade and smooth to the touch. The hilt is metal as well, with intricate carvings of vines and gems. The top of the hilt is rounded with a sunburst etched into it. The sheath is a dark brown tanned hide and accented with a silvery chain that crossed back and forth along the length. It is a beautiful blade. Laurissa reached out to gently touch the hilt.
“If you touch it, it will try to consume you.”
Laurissa heeded his warning and did not touch it. She had touched it before. It was the night she thought to take her own life. It did not harm her then. Then there was the time Lord Dunkan laid the blade on her nude body and she used it to swing at him. Why would it harm her now?
“It has a mind of its own.” Lord Dunkan replied to her thought.
“Do you have another?”
“This is the only weapon I own.”
“I remember you holding two distinct blades. One reflected light the other seemed to consume it.”
“Yes. This blade rests as one, but has the ability to become two separate swords.”
“That is amazing!”
Seeing it and knowing its power struck fear into her. She continued studying the metal and committed it to memory.
“It is strange you were able to overcome one who wielded such a powerful weapon.”
“I suppose luck was on my side.”
“Indeed.” Laurissa said as she sat up and stretched her muscles.
Tomorrow will be a long day. Laurissa decided to retire for the night while Dunkan continued with his plans at his desk.