The next morning Laurissa woke in good spirits. She will be a slave no more. She is still mated, but that will not last much longer. Lord Dunkan laid next to her, peacefully sleeping. She leaned over and passionately kissed his lips. Lord Dunkan breathed in deeply from the sudden change then embraced Laurissa.
“Good morning, my mate. What shall we do today?”
Lord Dunkan’s hand brushed Laurissa’s hair back and allowed the strands to flow through his fingers as he let a low moan out. The look of longing is painfully strong.
“Do you have training to do with Edna?”
“Not today. Today I am here with you. I only need to tell Edna as much.”
“There is something I wish to show you.” Lord Dunkan went into his library and retrieved a scroll, and went to his desk. “This is a map of our region, and these are the houses that I am aware of.” He pointed to the markers.
“Why are you showing me this?”
“You will one day explore our region. You will want to know how to get from one point to another. This will help guide you in your journey.”
“This is the village I discovered when I explored my stamina.” She said, pointing to Bergen.
“Yes. This mark is the house of Master Ulric. It was his female you spoke to.”
“I see. Which houses are bringing the one hundred humans?”
Lord Dunkan pointed to ten points on the map then pointed to the marks next to the houses, including Bergen. “These are the villages they are harvesting from. In a couple weeks, this map will be outdated. I may send Tristan to scout the land for a time. This is the house of Nicholas, the one Rowland now controls. I should be getting reports of his progress soon.” He pointed to a small village just north of Madwell called Norstrumn. “This village has a very small population. Emrick secured shelter and has begun separating the males from the females. I expect to see one hundred men come into Madwell tomorrow.” Then he pointed to a spot between the manor and another house to the far east. “This village is Sedona. It is a large trading village and was unclaimed by either house. I have claimed it through Braeden. He is creating his house like mine and will answer to me. He will report to me when the rest of the houses reconvene in a week or two. The village will become a second farm once the vampire population increases.”
Lord Dunkan then pointed to several houses. “I have sons that report to me each month the activity of the house they live in. Master Gael of the east, Master Ulric of the south, and Master Drake of the north each have allowed one of mine to join their houses. They do not know the rogues belong to me.”
“What is the purpose of having a son in these homes?”
“They inform me of the Master’s activity. I know their weaknesses and their desires. I also know what the village that is near them contains. Based on this knowledge, I know which humans will be selected for their one hundred. I am able to prepare Madwell accordingly. It is all about strategy, my dear. I have a vision for this region. It is well on its way to becoming a reality.”
“You are not concerned they will deceive you and become loyal to the master of the home?”
“Not at all. My sword has tasted their blood just as it has tasted yours. I have my ways to ensure they remain loyal to me.” Lord Dunkan’s voice returned to the threatening cold voice he always uses.
“This is good knowledge. What is this land?” Laurissa kept her mind from wandering and pointed further south, beyond the boundary of the region.
“That is a sea. It connects to Egypt. The humans have traders who will import goods on boats and bring them here.”
“That is a very long journey.”
“Yes, it is. Madwell does not see many traders from that area, and the goods are generally very pricy.”
“I saw a trader from Egypt last month. He said they discovered a metal called bronze. The book you gave me said Egypt had a strange mating ritual, and they believe in multiple gods. It sounds wondrous. I would like to visit it one day.”
“It is a very long and treacherous journey, my dear. If you go, I hope you will take someone with you.”
“I will take that under advisement.” She paused then put a hand on Lord Dunkan’s wrist as he held the paper. “You can take me. Leave this manor and your project. Stop this madness.” She pleaded in her voice and tendril.
Lord Dunkan took her cheek into the palm of his hand. “You know very well, I will not stop. We are superior to anything out here. We deserve to be the dominant species. Not these humans. I wish you could see this. Once my goal is reached, I will take you to Egypt. I can build a house there and begin building farms there.”
Laurissa looked down at the stone floor, disappointed. “What did you have planned for today?”
“My sons and daughters are all completing tasks I have set in motion. All I can do is wait. I thought about watching you train Edna.”
“What do you do when you have downtime?”
“I will sit in the sitting room and read to pass time.”
“Then perhaps you can read to me. You can read anything you wish, read pages from your book or any of your scrolls.”
“That sounds agreeable.”
“Allow me a moment to talk to Edna while you search for something to read.”
Lord Dunkan nodded and began rolling up the map. Laurissa left the room to find Edna. Edna is outside quietly meditating. She looks peaceful as she sits on the ground against the manor.
“Hello Edna. I must apologize, but my attention is needed else where. Please do as you wish today. I recommend studying and testing your abilities.”
“Yes, Laurissa. Will I see you tomorrow?”
“Yes, Edna. We will continue in the morning.”
Laurissa returned and found Lord Dunkan fully clothed, laying on the bed with his back leaning on the headboard and a scroll in his hand. Laurissa curled up to him and draped an arm around his chest. She could feel his joy and a warmth she did not understand. His heartbeat rapidly in his chest.
“What are we reading, my mate.” The way Laurissa called him her mate pulled at Lord Dunkan’s heart. He wished she could learn to accept him as her mate.
“This is an account of some of my experiences in the north. There is an island lush and green and full of magic. I did not like it there and moved here. The rocks I used to build this manor came from that island. I thought perhaps you would like what I found there. You enjoy nature, it seems.”
“Do you not?”
“I have no opinion on the beasts of the land or the growth of vegetation.” Lord Dunkan combed his fingers through Laurissa’s fingers as he began reading.
Laurissa’s amazement grew as Lord Dunkan read from his scroll. There are people called druids and spirits that lived in great forests. Huge intelligent bears and wolves roamed the land. Clerics had magical abilities to heal the sick and dying. Great columns of stone were being built in a circular fashion. They believed gods gave them their powers. Most of the humans were simple farmers, although there were kings and grand stone buildings.
The scroll was thick.
Lord Dunkan had spent most of his youth there. The scroll showed his intelligence. He stayed quiet and in the shadows watching and observing. He found a group of vampires there and began making a home. He lost several members to the great wolves. The wolves did not speak, but you could tell they were supremely more intelligent than their small cousins. Lord Dunkan grew frustrated and called the vampires to join forces to destroy the pack that lived on his land. Only three of the group survived. They managed to kill only two of the wolves. They were immune to any attack the vampire had. They had no other weapon and so lost.
The bears could speak and made it clear the vampire was not welcome on their land. They forced the vampire back across the sea. Lord Dunkan managed to leave three vampires undetected. He stays in contact with them and will occasionally get supplies such as rocks to build with.
It began to become dusk, and Lord Dunkan folded the scroll and stretched.
“It is almost time to hunt, my dear. Will you be here when I return?”
“Yes, my mate. I will wait for you.”
Lord Dunkan kissed Laurissa softly on the lips and left the room. Lord Dunkan felt as though he could accomplish anything. Laurissa’s love is beautiful, even if it is a mask. He longed for the day she would truly accept him. He did not believe he could truly destroy her. He is not even sure he could learn more about the female through her.
As all vampires do, her strength will increase with age. He is still much more powerful than her as long as he does not cause her grief. He knows he could never kill Edna to harm Laurissa. She has touched him where no female has the right to do so. He struggles to remain neutral, then he sees the depth of her blue eyes, and the struggle is no more. The race to death is nearing its end. Laurissa found a way to permanently free herself from him. He shall soon see what he is willing to do, or if she accepts him as her mate.
Lord Dunkan thought he bought time showing her the map. She will wish to study it before she leaves. He could feel the calculating thoughts of destroying each house to save her precious humans.
His sons and daughters are also at risk of losing their lives. It did not truly matter if they lived or died. He is their master and protector. He had his rules set for the purpose of protecting his family. If they perished, he simply could grow another. He planned on watching Laurissa very carefully.
The stench of the village brought him out of his thoughts. Laurissa wanted a virgin for tonight. Lord Dunkan walked along the streets looking for the smell of a virgin. He found a male that is clean enough to bring into his home. He sat in front of a tavern, calmly watching the humans walk past as they entered or exited the tavern. He is well built and young. His blood will be divine. He still stunk and insulted Lord Dunkan’s nose.
“My dear, I have found a male worthy to feed on. Will you make a bath for him?”
“Yes, my mate.”
He smiled to himself. He liked being called that. He did not want this night to end. Laurissa’s joy radiated off her. He almost believed she was truly happy being with him. He did his job too well. She hated him. He did not plan on liking her enough to keep her. Lord Dunkan collected the virgin then returned to the manor.