The next morning Laurissa woke to daylight streaming in the window and a man standing over the bed. Laurissa’s heart leaped in her chest as she cried out. Lord Dunkan jumped off the bed, ready to defend himself.
“My Lord, forgive me. I was only startled.” Laurissa began to laugh.
Lord Dunkan did not find this very amusing. He got dressed and approached the human. He never took his eyes off Laurissa. The man simply looked into Laurissa’s eyes with a calmness that unnerved her. His eyes have glossed over and were as a void. They took in everything and gave nothing. He has not become a vampire, and he shows the ability to keep his emotions quiet. She is right. There is a calculating intelligence in his eyes. They were almost like Laurissa’s eyes. This one will do as he asks and will learn quickly.
“Come, young one. We have much to talk about.”
Lord Dunkan led the new vampire out of the room, leaving Laurissa alone. Lord Dunkan kept his tendril open to Laurissa, allowing her to study him.
Laurissa had other obligations. She does not need to know what he does to his males. She got dressed and went to Edna’s room. Edna patiently waited for Laurissa on the bed. When she felt Laurissa’s presence, she opened the door. Laurissa’s appearance made her want to kneel. Her eyes showed no emotion. They were steady and calculating. It felt like they bore into her soul. Edna sent a tendril tenderly asking permission to connect. Laurissa accepted her and sent one to Edna.
“You do not need to fear me, Edna. I am only a vampire such as yourself.”
“No, you are more. I do not understand it. I feel calling you by name is too casual.”
“I am not much older than you. I am still learning my skills. You can say we are sisters in that respect. You will still show me respect as I am your senior.”
“Sister? Yes, I like that. I will call you sister.”
“That is acceptable. What would you like to do today?”
Edna thought on this. “What is it you are studying? Perhaps we can learn together.”
“I am studying the tendril and how it is connected to us. Let us go outside. I know a quiet place to study.”
Laurissa paused a moment to look for Lord Dunkan. He was in one of the empty rooms introducing the young vampire to his new life. He will feed tonight and finish the transformation.
“My mate, if you will wait a moment.”
Laurissa was stunned by the request. There is no malice, no command. There is no harshness to his voice. What game is he playing? Old habits do not change overnight, especially ones that have been his way for over a thousand years.
“I will be in the sitting room.” Laurissa projected. “Edna, please forgive me, Lord Dunkan has requested to see me. You may wait with me if you like.”
Laurissa could feel Edna’s excitement. She has only met Lord Dunkan once. Laurissa kept her disgust away from Edna. She is safe at the moment. There is no reason to burden her with caution from this house. Laurissa has already warned her to be mindful of her voice.
“What is he like?”
“Lord Dunkan rules this manor strictly. He expects respect and his commands completed without hesitation. He is no one to be friends with.”
“Is he cruel?”
“Why would you think to ask such a question?”
“Forgive me, sister. I can feel your anger and resentment when he was near you last. Whenever you think of him, you seem to close up.”
“You are very observant, Edna. That is excellent. Continue being mindful of your surroundings. You will learn much about truths that are hidden if you only observe your surroundings and those in it.”
Lord Dunkan entered the room and ignored Edna “It would please me if you accompany me to the village.”
“I have plans to train with Edna today.”
Lord Dunkan cast his gaze to Edna.
“It is alright, sister. If you have time, find me, and we will continue.”
“It seems my charge does not want to learn today.” Laurissa said shortly, looking at Edna then to Dunkan.
“Forgive me, sister. I did not mean to wound you.”
“I will follow you, my Lord.” Laurissa said, ignoring Edna. She must learn to keep her tongue under control.
Lord Dunkan thought it was amusing that Edna was so quick to dismiss Laurissa. “It seems you do not have control of Edna.” Lord Dunkan projected.
“I do not want to control her. She has a mind of her own.”
“Come, my dear.” Lord Dunkan said as he stretched his hands out, indicating Laurissa take the lead to the door. He did not want to interfere in Laurissa’s training. She must do this on her own. She will learn she needs to take control in order to be respected.
Laurissa silently followed Lord Dunkan to Madwell. It is a beautiful warm day. People are traveling the roads to the market. Venders of all trades are selling their wares. As Lord Dunkan passed the villagers, they quieted and watched him pass. Lord Dunkan stopped at a booth that sold cloth. The woman Laurissa knows as Maranda stood perfectly still watching Lord Dunkan. A scent of fear came from her. What has Lord Dunkan done to the humans to instill fear?
“I have done nothing, my dear. They simply recognize a god when one is present.” He projected.
That is simply untrue. Laurissa is a vampire, and she has formed relationships here.
Laurissa looked at Maranda’s merchandise. She had different dyed cloths rolled into bundles and lined up in an orderly fashion.
“Your training is complete, and since you are my mate and will not bed anyone besides me, I thought you should wear something more appropriate.” Lord Dunkan projected. Laurissa did not answer. “You can choose any material and color you like to have a gown made.”
Laurissa smiled at the woman and looked through the cloth, unimpressed. It did not matter what she wore. She belonged to Lord Dunkan. No amount of gowns will change that. He has already made it clear with the other masters that she is his mate. Being dressed in a different gown will only be for his benefit.
“What ever you choose will be fine.” She projected.
“Seamstress, I would like you to make a beautiful gown in this cloth for the lady here.” Lord Dunkan commanded in his smooth dangerous voice. He had authority in this village, and he made it known.
“My Lord, This seamstress is called Maranda. Maranda, you know Lord Dunkan?” Laurissa could feel the woman’s fear and tried to comfort her.
“Yes, miss. It is a pleasure.”
“You may call me by my name.” Laurissa said through a small smile. And touched the Maranda’s hand.
Lord Dunkan felt a mixture of annoyance and jealousy. Laurissa made friends with a filthy human. He wondered why she would stoop so low. This woman will be food. She is too old to breed and not desirable to be turned into a vampire.
Maranda looked at Lord Dunkan and seemed to back away a bit. “It will be my pleasure, milord. Come here, Laurissa, let me take a look at you.”
Laurissa did as she was told. The woman made some measurements. “I can have a gown worthy of your lady ready in a week, milord.”
“You have two days.”
“Milord, I can’t make a dress that quickly!”
“You do not have a choice, seamstress. I suggest you start right away.” Lord Dunkan began walking toward Norstrumn.
“Yes, Milord.” The woman hurriedly began packing her things. Laurissa started to help her.
“It’s alright, dear. I’ll have a dress for you that will bring your inner beauty out. It will be my masterpiece.”
Laurissa kept her mind quiet and spoke quietly to Maranda. “You do not need to make a special dress for me, Maranda. It will mean little to him.”
“I’m not doing it for him, dear. Now go on and follow him like a good girl. I’ll see you in a couple days.” Laurissa embraced Maranda and caught up to Lord Dunkan.
“You are quiet, my dear.”
“I have nothing to say.”
“You did not come to the woman’s defense as I suspected you would.”
“I am not going to waste my time trying to convince you to stop. You are set in your ways. Maranda is unharmed for the moment.”
Lord Dunkan chuckled. Laurissa continued quietly watching Dunkan, like a huntress hunting her prey. Lord Dunkan missed the constant need to be free. Her mind was always busy learning and asking why. She was always strategizing. Now, she is completely quiet. He only knew she followed him because of the sound of her footsteps on the dirt road. Her tendril is not dark. It made him nervous.
“Emrick will be coming this way shortly. He will be bringing a group of males with him. They will be housed in the abandoned buildings in the south. You did me a service releasing some of the humans. Emrick will stay here a couple days, gathering females to take back to his village. My newest son will work with Tristan here and bring males here from time to time.”
Laurissa is glad she was not part of the plan.
Lord Dunkan heard the thought. It was the first thought she had since meeting earlier. “So, you are alive after all.” Lord Dunkan chuckled. “I assure you, this is the place you will desire to spend your time, my dear. Vampires can only resist human blood for so long. I would assume you would want to watch over this village and make sure the humans remain safe.”
“You would punish any vampire if they hurt the humans. They are connected to you. Why should I concern myself?”
“I have made no such rule. They are masters of their own houses now. They are released from my manor and its laws. The only rule I have on my territory is not to kill or cause a human to die. They may play with them from time to time as they have in the past.”
“What do you mean play with humans?”
“Oh there are several ways to entertain yourself with a human. You can create their worst fear and hunt them in a chase. You can make two humans fight one another until one is passed out, or you can simply chain them and torture the body. Humans will heal over time.”
“Does your cruelty have no bounds?”
“Humans are just as cruel, my dear. I have seen humans make sport of roosters killing each other. They fight dogs in a ring and laugh. I have seen young boys set fire to rats and let them run. Do not think to judge me and think me worse than the humans. They fight and kill over territory. They steal from their neighbor and rape each other. Believe me, they are much more a ruthless species than we are.”
Laurissa has spent time in Madwell listening to the people here. There are some who have been betrayed by a neighbor and thought to kill the betrayer in recompense. She has never seen the cruelty Dunkan describes in this village.
“Where have you seen such terror?”
“You see more of the destruction around the kings of the land. Kings build large stone structures, and millions of humans will build homes within the walls for safety. One such land is further north across the sea.”
“I remember the story you told. I will keep order here, my Lord.”
“Thank you, my dear. Tonight you will need to feed on your own. I must finish with our young vampire.”
“As you wish.”