Laurissa opened her eyes to see the darkening sky. She is lying on her back and soaked with sweat. Edna cradled her head in her lap. Tears stained her cheeks.
“I am well, Edna.” Laurissa said as she sat up. The pain in her head is a dull throb. She will manage the pain and continue on.
“Thank goodness! I heard your scream from the woods. Lord Dunkan waits for you in the manor.”
Edna tried to give Laurissa support as she stood. Laurissa waved her hand to stop Edna. Edna’s eyes glowed with concern. Her entire body told Laurissa she wanted to comfort her but rested. The stench of fear is unbearable.
“I did not mean to alarm you. My apologies, Edna. It is time to feed.”
Her tendril pulsed with pain, protesting the move. It felt very much like how she felt after indulging on virgin blood. She put a palm on her forehead to steady the swimming feeling.
Edna could not contain herself and rushed to help Laurissa. “What happened?”
“I am studying my tendril. I thought to make a defense against mental attacks. It was unwise to do such a thing.”
Laurissa began walking toward Madwell to feed. Edna began following her. “You must not follow me, Edna. Go find food elsewhere.”
“I will not leave you.”
“You are forbidden to return to the village. Do as I say, Edna.” She warned. She is in no mood to deal with her questioning.
“Then come with me.”
“I am bound to this manor. I can only go two miles away from Lord Dunkan.”
“You are trapped?”
“I am mated to him. As I said, mated vampires cannot go very far from each other. The connecting tendril begins to snap. It is very painful.” Laurissa’s irritation with her constant questions grew. She wished for Edna to simply do as she is told. She has commanded Edna to stay out of her personal affairs. Edna is like her in that respect. She Continues asking questions until she is satisfied with the answer.
“Please, Laurissa. Follow me as far as you can go. I will bring a human to you. I do not want to leave you alone.”
Edna’s plea warmed Laurissa’s heart “I will go with you.”
“Thank you, sister. Follow me. There is a farm near the male’s house.”
Laurissa opened her mind as she began following Edna.
“Well, my dear. It is good to know you are well. What did you do?” Lord Dunkan projected. His voice was that of a person studying another.
“If I wanted you to know, I would have left my mind open to you.” Laurissa snapped. She is growing tired of being his project.
“Be careful of your attitude, my dear. You still live under my roof. My rules still apply to you. I will not tolerate disrespect.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
Lord Dunkan had just finished feeding his new vampire and waited for the transformation to complete.
The stone building has come into sight, and beyond it was the outline of the male’s house. Laurissa felt the tug and stopped.
“I can go no further.”
“Wait here. I will be quick, I promise.”
“Why are you nervous? What has you upset?”
“I only wish to help.”
“This makes you nervous?”
“I respect you.”
Laurissa studied Edna. She is acting differently. Apparently, Edna will not tell her why. Edna did not lie to her. Laurissa did not smell the stench as Edna spoke. Something is still very wrong.
“Go. I will wait.” Edna hurriedly left and disappeared into the darkness.
It is very quiet. No crickets could be heard. The breeze is completely calm. The earth seemed to know of danger nearby. Laurissa’s hair stood on end. She projected her hearing outward and listened. She could hear two heartbeats. One faded as it seemed to travel away from her. Its rhythm beat quickly within its body. This one must be Edna. The other heartbeat is very calm and beat very slow. It did not belong to an animal or a human. Laurissa closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She could only smell the wet dirt beneath her feet. She slowly circled around, sniffing the air and reading her tendril. Her tendril stretched and coiled, forming a dagger at the top. The heartbeat did not belong to Dunkan. He is still in the manor. She looked deep within her tendril. No dagger touched her imagination stand. This is real. She is being hunted.
Laurissa caught the scent as she continued to turn, stopping where she started. She did not want the attacker to know she was aware of him and where he is located.
Lord Dunkan could feel Laurissa’s distress and watched to see what happened. She has killed Thana, who was much older than her.
Triston roamed the land, and Lord Dunkan suggested he test Laurissa. He did not say how or what was not acceptable. Triston is imaginative. He is the one who enjoys playing with humans.
Triston knew Laurissa’s scent. He made sure to memorize it when he was near her. She is Lord Dunkan’s favored female, and he is to work alongside her in Madwell managing humans. He needed to be able to track her if ever there was a need. Her wildflower bloom is a unique smell and could be found easily.
He quietly followed her downwind as her charge led her toward the male’s house. Lord Dunkan wanted a good show. Triston is aware Laurissa killed Thana, so she must be stronger than she appears. He used caution slowing his heartbeat, and very quietly moved toward her. He would give Lord Dunkan a show to be proud of.
He loved hearing screams, especially from women. They gave off a delicious scent when they were frightened and knew death was near. He never killed them. Lord Dunkan had commanded everyone not to kill humans unless they are to be turned. He never said how close to death one could become.
Triston is within sight and waited for Laurissa’s charge to leave. He stood quietly as Laurissa took in her surroundings. He knows she is aware of him. She is a vampire, after all. Her posture told him everything. She will be ready for an attack. He could feel his excitement rage as he fought for control. He will see what Lord Dunkan found appealing in this female. Very slowly and quietly, he began approaching Laurissa. She stood perfectly still, listening for her attacker.
She is no match for Triston. He is two hundred years older than her and a male. It has been proven males are stronger than females. Lord Dunkan tested such a theory within his family. Triston had fought and gained control over Keres. They are only a few months apart in age. He overcame her easily. This will be even easier.
Laurissa listened to the heartbeats as she stood perfectly still. She allowed it to come closer. She is still very young and cannot rely on her power to help her. She will need to use the element of surprise once again. She waited until she could hear footsteps. Her attacker is only a few feet behind her. The heartbeat changed, and she threw her power out with her tendril. A howl echoed in the still air as she dove into the tendril. She saw her attacker to be Triston. She brought forth the memory of the pain the sword caused. More howls as death’s scream escaped Triston’s lungs.
“How dare you attack me!” Laurissa growled.
“Let him go, my dear. I will deal with him.” Lord Dunkan projected.
“He is mine!” Laurissa summoned more of her power and attacked Triston. She felt the tug of her tendril as Lord Dunkan summoned the power of the sword. Death crawled into her. She ignored it and concentrated on sending pulsing power into Triston. The icy cold fingers gripped her heart and lungs and made their way to her mind. It slowly weakened her. she reluctantly released Triston and fell to the ground with her own screams of death.
Triston quickly recovered and glared at Laurissa. How did a simple female overcome him? Especially one so young! He will have his way with her. Triston reached down and pinned Laurissa to the ground.
“Leave her.” He heard Dunkan’s command.
Triston will have his vengeance. He ignored Dunkan as he began lifting Laurissa’s gown. “Triston, I will not warn you again.” Still ignoring Lord Dunkan, Triston reached his goal and gave a powerful thrust. The world went black as fire ignited throughout his body. The sword’s power consumed him, and deaths call demanded his presence.
“Laurissa!” Edna called and cradled her head in her lap. Laurissa groaned as she opened her eyes.
“It seems Triston thought to make sport of me while I was away from Lord Dunkan. I am alright now.” Triston laid on the ground, barely breathing. Laurissa thought to finish the job.
“Do not, unless you wish to share the same fate!” Lord Dunkan’s voice is extremely dangerous.
“He attacked me. It is my right!”
“Yes. It is, my dear. You are on my land and must defer to me. Triston is mine. I will deal with him.” His smooth voice echoed through Laurissa’s mind.
“As you wish.”
Laurissa stomped on Triston’s chest, breaking his sternum as she began walking back to the manor.
“Sister! You must feed.”
“I am not hungry.”
“I brought a human. You must feed.”
Laurissa turned with anger that made Edna flinch. “Why are you adamant about feeding me? Why have you brought me here? You refuse to leave me. Why? Did you lead me to be ambushed? Do not lie to me, Edna.”
Edna’s face paled. “No! I only wish to help. I did not know about Triston’s attack.”
Laurissa glared at Edna for a moment. Edna is acting differently. She is not excited or cheerful. She stunk of fear. Laurissa could not see what it was Edna was afraid of. Apparently, Edna will not speak.
“Do not defy me, Edna. Take the human back.” Laurissa warned and walked away.
Laurissa was in a foul mood when she returned. Her anger intensified when she saw the manor. Dunkan has gone too far. She desperately wanted this to end. She must be patient.
What did he gain by sending his male to kill her? Has she reached the end of her usefulness? No. Dunkan had planned to have her run the farm alongside Triston and the new vampire.
Perhaps she angered him by rejecting his request of remaining his mate. No. Dunkan is a creature of habit. He does not play the game in secret. If he is angered, he shows it immediately.
Perhaps Dunkan sent Triston to learn a lesson from her. Perhaps Triston needed to know he must submit to her rule in Madwell. Laurissa laughed at the irony. Lord Dunkan is not careless. He has warned his males she is to be respected. His word is law, and he expects his males and females to carry his orders without complaint.
As she reached for the door handle, Laurissa calmed the raging storm she felt. It will not be much longer. She must be patient.
Lord Dunkan was sitting in the sitting room near the fireplace when Laurissa walked through the door. The females and their charges were out hunting. She had the privacy to speak to Lord Dunkan without embarrassing him. She was not concerned with his feelings; however, he would react to her disrespect as a show of strength. Laurissa could not waste time healing or grieving or what he would force her to do. She must bide her time and strike at the right time.
“Did you know of Triston’s plan to attack?”
“And you allowed it?”
“Yes.” Lord Dunkan stood up and approached Laurissa. She stood very still, waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. “I hoped you would reveal how you plan on killing me. My desire is to remain mated and rule this land together. Make me yours, Laurissa. Call me your own, and I will be your slave.”
“Do not be ridicules, Dunkan.”
Edna burst into the room when she saw Lord Dunkan and Laurissa turn to her, she quickly bowed her head and went to her room. A rush of air followed by her scent moved through them. The door slammed, making the walls vibrate.
They both ignored her and returned to their conversation. “We both know you would never be able to submit to a female, let alone one a thousand years younger than you.” She hissed
Lord Dunkan held Laurissa’s shoulders and looked directly into her eyes. “You are no mere female. You have a power you have not discovered. I have already given you a higher ranking than that of a simple female. You are to be respected by my males and the masters of this region. Call me yours.”
“And what? You will continue testing me and using me for your gain? I do not agree with your beliefs. If I called you mine and you truly submitted to me, I would have you take your own life with that cursed sword!” Lord Dunkan released Laurissa and laughed. “Oh I do love that fire, my dear. Shall we retire?”
Laurissa was confused at the sudden change of his demeanor but glad of it. She no longer wished to argue with him. She feared her temper would cause her to strike before she was ready. Killing Dunkan would free her, however the humans are in danger. Killing Dunkan would not keep the humans safe. Laurissa turned around and left the manor. Lord Dunkan continued to laugh as she left him.
Laurissa kept her tendril darkened and pulsed her power. She ran as fast as she could to the wooded area. She would have Lord Dunkan’s head, but she needed to ensureensure his plans died with him. The other houses will be arriving in a couple weeks to sign the contract and make plans to further the vampire domination. Laurissa did not have to leave the manor to end the game. The masters will come to her. Killing Dunkan now will attract the other master’s attention. Laurissa could not fight off male vampires that are hundreds, perhaps thousands years older than her.
She needed to be quick and stealthy. Only a quiet thief with lightning reflexes will be able to overcome 20 male vampires and 10 females. It did not take much time to enter the mind and attack the tendril. She felt she could kill 5 vampire before the rest of them could react. That is not quick enough. Every one of them was hundreds of years older than her, making them far more stronger than her. It would only take one vampire to overcome her. She is obviously strong enough to enter an older vampires mind, now she must practice her haste.
Perhaps Lord Dunkan is wrong. Perhaps her power is not dependent on age, although it may be a factor. Perhaps her power is like a muscle that needs strengthening through labor. Like an infant learning to walk, the legs must form muscle tone to hold the body’s weight and strengthens over time. As the farmers work their land, their body muscles strengthen, allowing them to work more efficiently without tiring. Is it possible her power is simply a muscle that needs to be worked?
Laurissa stretched her tendril and began sending it out quickly and snapping it back. She imagined the sitting room full of vampire and attacked each one with her tendril. She used her power to quicken her motions. She trickled her power to a steady stream. She is painfully slow. She continued to push until she broke into a sweat then pushed harder. She is using the majority of her power and still only able to satisfactorily attack three vampire. Only three in a room of thirty vampire at least two hundred years older. This is where she will train until she could defeat her enemy.