When Laurissa woke the next morning, she was alone in the room.
“Keres, take your charge and deliver the request to a miner by the name of Konrad. He lives further north in a village called Old Ward. It will take you two weeks to travel there and back. Remember to turn at least one human each of you while you are away. Bring them back with you.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“Before long, your manor will be empty, my Lord.”
“Good morning, my dear. It is only for a short time. I will soon be turning humans, myself. I must resupply my vacancies.”
Laurissa did not want to watch as he destroyed more souls. She must find a solution soon. She knew the tendril was the key. She was not sure how, but she knew if she could unravel its mystery, then she could free herself. Laurissa went to Edna’s room to begin her training.
“Are you ready to begin?”
“Yes, Laurissa. May we go outside?”
“Of course, follow me?”
Laurissa led her to a quiet clearing less than a mile away. It is a cool fall day. The sky is overcast, and the tall grass is now brown and fragile. Laurissa made a small place for them to sit so the grass would not poke them.
“Sit here in front of me.”
Edna did as she was told. Laurissa cupped Edna’s head into her hands and sent a probe to her mind. Edna’s mind opened easily, allowing Laurissa to see her tiny tendril. It is light tan in color and seems to reach upward as if it could not wait to grow. The curl at the tip is only slightly curled.
“Look into your mind, Edna, and tell me what you see.”
Edna’s tendril began to flex and move and curl. “What are they?”
The brown color is your tendril. This is connected to your mind and body. It essentially is your brain, but so much more. The blue one is my tendril. Vampires use the tendril to communicate telepathically. We can speak, share memories, see and hear what the other sees and hear, and it is used to create an intimate bond. Touching another vampire in this way is very special and must never be abused. You may send your tendril to another asking for a connection. If you are denied, you must respect their wishes.” Laurissa gently touched Edna’s tendril. Edna flinched and jerked as if she got burned. “Our tendrils are extremely sensitive.” She projected.
“I can hear you!” she said verbally.
“Yes. We are connected, and I can now speak with you privately. Do you feel your power?”
“Yes.” Edna projected
“That is what we use to project thoughts to the humans. It is also how we command them to stay quiet and allow us to feed. We can make them see or believe anything we wish.”
“Does it work on other vampires?”
“I am still learning about the tendril. Our power does not seem to affect us. I believe we must be connected in order to invoke such a command. Do you see the tiny strands within your tendril?”
“Each strand is connected to your body in some way. Your body, your heart, and your mind, then it goes further from there. Your body feels physical pain, your heart feels emotions, and your mind thinks, and so it goes until your very fiber is shown. This connection to your mind…” Laurissa stopped in her sentence.
“Laurissa, what is it?”
Laurissa looked at the base of Edna’s tendril. It is the purest white she has only seen one other time. The thick strand that connects everything is the same pure white. It pulsed and thrummed with the rhythm of Edna’s life. Tiny tan strands grew from the white bulb and embraced the mind strand over and over again, forming the tendril. The bulb that the life force grew from is connected to the mind strand which is connected to the entire body. Both were the same white as the river below the earth. Both hummed and pulsed with life like the white river.
“Forgive me, Edna.” She said, quickly shaking her thoughts and concentrated on teaching Edna. “The tendril is vastly unknown. Meditate on it today and see what you can learn from it.”
Laurissa disconnected her tendril and watched Edna close her eyes and send a probe to Laurissa. She allowed it in and sent her tendril to connect.
“Why does your strand have two colors?”
“Those strands are not mine. You see my mate.”
“On occasion, yes. I am still learning what it means for the tendril. When two vampires mate, they share every thought and every emotion. Their tendrils flex and braid into one single tendril. They are forever connected, as far as I know. This also creates limitations. I can only go as far as my tendril will allow me to go. When my mate is in the manor, I can go to the furthest edge of town before it is stretched too far and begins to break.”
“So you are together all the time?”
“Yes. Where one goes, the other is not far away.”
Edna was quiet for a moment.
“What did you mean about your tendril breaking?”
“Like the vine, our tendril is delicate. Strands can be broken and severed from the base. It is quite painful. However, because of our immortality, your tendril heals and creates a new strand to replace the old strand.”
Edna disconnected from Laurissa while she studied her tendril. Laurissa sat quietly, allowing Edna the time she needed, and took the opportunity to study her own. Laurissa’s tendril is not as large as Lord Dunkan’s, but it is much bigger than Edna’s. The dark blue strands intertwined around black stands. Laurissa followed the strands to the base and saw it is still pure white. It resembled a tiny bulb that is planted in the ground. The tendril grows from that bulb and expands with multiple strands that connect like fibers. The tendril starts turning blue almost immediately.
Laurissa Looked for Lord Dunkan and saw he was busy with his scrolls. She closed her connection to meditate privately.
The earth’s river is pure white like the base of the bulb and the mind strand. Above the river is the soil where vegetation grows. Animals consume the vegetation for energy, and the humans eat the vegetation or animals for energy. However, once humans are turned into vampires, they feed off humans for energy and can no longer be sustained by vegetation or flesh.
When one plucks a blade of grass or flower from the earth, it dies. Farmers harvest the fruit then pull the bush or vine from the ground, killing the vegetable. When a human is turned into a vampire, they are brought to the very abyss of death then held there until they consume blood or completely die. The human is plucked from the earth and begins to die. The ground is only a layer from the white river. The river must be the energy everything feeds off.
Laurissa’s heart pounded with excitement. She calmed herself and relaxed. She must focus on Edna’s safety. Lord Dunkan has put his plans in motion. In a couple days, the new vampires will be released, and his females will take another charge. Lord Dunkan is preparing to turn a male and begin training. This is starting to happen very fast. Laurissa knew she did not have much time before the situation was not reversible. She opened her mind as dusk approached.
“You are free to do as you please. I will see you in the morning.” Laurissa said as she stood to return to the manor.
“Good night, Laurissa.”
Laurissa quieted her mind and concentrated on Lord Dunkan’s tendril as she returned to the manor. The remaining two females with their charges were in the sitting room and watched as Laurissa passed them. As always, there were feelings of resentment and hatred coming from them. Nothing she said would change their mind. She worried about the young vampire. They were being brainwashed as their masters were brainwashed. She knew Dunkan had not had the pleasure of introducing himself to them. He has been busy with her instead.
Lord Dunkan is in Madwell as he always is preparing to feed. The nausea he felt from the scent of the human’s and the taste of the blood is comical. Laurissa thought this was justified for such an evil being.
“I could relieve you of your suffering and make you enjoy your death.” She sent images of her fangs feeding off Lord Dunkan until he was too weak to fight her.
Laughter erupted. “Yes, my dear, I suppose you could. But I will not allow it. My work here is not yet finished.”
“No, I suppose not. You do not need to finish. You put your plans in motion. The other houses have agreed upon them. They can execute your dreams while you depart from this world.”
“I cannot trust them.”
“You cannot trust me, yet you still ask me to do things.”
“Enough of this canter, my dear. I grow tired of your threats. We both have an understanding. You do not need to remind me.”
“Then I suggest you stop reminding me we are mated, and I am enslaved to you.”
“That is only in your head.”
“Is it? You command me to your bed each night and lay on me so I will not escape. You carry your sword to remind everyone, including me, you have the power to kill us. You demand I feed off you and obey your every command daily. Does this not seem to be a reminder of my predicament?”
Lord Dunkan was silent as he fed off a human. “It is only a reminder because you choose it to be, my dear. I have not punished you in some time. I have not demanded anything from you since you destroyed Thana. I have done as you requested and listened to your suggestions. Does this sound like a master to you?
“I request you stay with me at night, so you do not warn more humans. If I do not fulfill my end of the contract, my life and every member of my house will be forfeit. In this way, I am protecting my house. I assumed lying with me and feeding off me to give me pleasure would be something you would do out of gratitude for my protection.
“We are mated whether you like it or not. As my mate, you have a duty to me, and I have a duty to you.”
“Do not play games with me, Dunkan. We both know you mated with me without my knowledge or consent, and you only did so to be close and study me. You do not care about the lives in this manner or your duties to me as a mate. You are heartless and only care about yourself.”
Lord Dunkan returned to the manor. “It is a pity you feel that way, my dear. You and I could truly be a couple to fear.”
“You wish to continue to be mated to me? Do you reconsider killing me?”
“You are most pleasing, my dear. Your body calls to me like none other. Your scent would drive any vampire mad. You have a fire that cannot be extinguished. If you can nurture that flame, you would be a female even the males would fear. You are a danger to me, and I am very attracted to it.”
Laurissa could feel his arousal. “Come and feed, my dear.” Laurissa did as she was told and took his wrist. “On, your knees.” Laurissa glared at him. His eyes burned with passion. “Oh, yes, my dear. That is the fire that will drive any male mad.” His body physically shook with excitement as Laurissa knelt in front of him. His fingers lightly brushed Laurissa’s silky hair as she fed.
“Stay with me, Laurissa. Be mine and call me your own.” He moaned. There was no edge to his smooth voice, and his tendril was pulsing rapidly. He truly wanted to stay mated with her for life. “Let us end our game and truly become one.” Laurissa remained quiet and released his wrist. Lord Dunkan looked down at Laurissa and took her chin. The storm within is a chilly calm. A small smile spread across his lips. “You found a way.” He could feel his life nearing an end. At least he had the pleasure of knowing such beauty. “I will live forever through you, my dear. You will always remember me and know it is me who made you. Every action and thought you have will be because of your time spent with me.” Lord Dunkan knelt down in front of Laurissa and kissed her passionately, asking to be loved back. There is none to give. “Please, my dear. Love me and allow my fantasy. I will never again ask anything of you.”
“She will still care for my surplus, if I live long enough. My surplus will not know slavery as the village will. She can live there unmolested.”
“What is my charge’s name?”
Lord Dunkan cast his eyes down, and his shoulders fell forward. This was the most humble he has ever been.
“Edna. Your charge’s name is Edna.” He sounded defeated. This confused Laurissa making her wonder what new trap he wove.
“Why are you submitting to a female? This is beneath you. Why humble yourself before me? You are male and the lord of this manor. What are you trying to achieve? Your sentence is indefinite. I will not change my mind.”
Lord Dunkan stood up. “So many questions.” He whispered. A great sadness came through her. Her stomach lurched, and she felt she wanted to cry. She almost reached out to comfort him.
“I am not submitting to a female. You, my dear, are much, much more. Be careful in your journey. A female of your caliber is very desired by males. I would be a god among the vampire if you made me yours. There are no queens in the vampire world. This region does not have kingdoms of any kind. There are human queens to the far north in the highlands. Even in Egypt, the Pharaoh will marry a woman crowning her queen.
“Females do not own houses or govern other vampire. The stronger a female is, the more a male vampire will try to dominate her. The rumors of females having unique powers are true. I see this. These ‘rumors’ were only rumors because the male did not survive the encounter. I believe you are one of these females, but much more. Zillah was such a female to be desired. I could not allow her to be freed and end up in another master’s house.
“I am uncertain of the spell you have over me, Laurissa. Behind closed doors, we would be as equals. As far as I know, no female has ever had a higher standing. It is a male vampire’s world. You do not have a voice. With me by your side, you can give the females a voice. You will never have to bed another vampire, for I can be very territorial and jealous. I am not known for taking a mate. They will know you belong to me.”
“I will never truly be your equal. You have an agenda Dunkan, and I will not be able to change it.”
“Only in this instance, I assure you. I am willing to teach you the politics of the vampire although, I feel you have your own agenda in that area.” He smiled a small smile.
Laurissa stood in front of Dunkan with her arms folded a crossed her chest. What exactly is he after?
“I cannot. I will not. If I cannot have you, no one will. You are safer here.”
Laurissa turned away from him, feeling trapped.
“You are safer if I stay.”
“Yes.” He replied without hesitation.
Laurissa looked down at Lord Dunkan. His blue eyes were clear and full of hope. She has never seen him look so desperate and venerable. It is nothing more than an illusion. This vampire is set in his evil ways. He is manipulating her. Still, she cannot deny his request. She will be able to focus on her own training and fighting this war against Dunkan.
She sighed and said, “Tomorrow night, bring a virgin for us to feed on. I will give you one night of your desire. I will love you as a mate should for the next twenty-four hours. After the night ends tomorrow, you will not command me to do anything. I am free of your slavery.”
“As you wish.”
She did not believe her ears. He is not standing tall as the lord of the manor does. His features have softened. It does not matter. He will still be executed when the time is right, but she had freedom.
“Then come to me, my mate. Let us quench your thirst.”
Lord Dunkan excitedly did as he was told. Laurissa pushed aside her hatred and let love flow from her tendril. Lord Dunkan wrapped his arms around Laurissa’s waist and embraced her gently, then kissed her lips softly. He stepped back for a moment to gaze upon her, then led her to the bed.