Laurissa slowly walked back to the manor. She is exhausted from the lack of sleep and the strain of training her tendril. Her muscles may be tired, but there is still much to learn. Laurissa planned on sneaking into Dunkan’s private library to see if there is a scroll she could use to learn different defense tactics.
It will be dawn soon. The entire manor slept. Even the fire had gone cold. Stealth will be important. Laurissa took a moment to slow her heartbeat and breathing and use her power to soften her footsteps. The floor is expertly made with no flaws. She is able to walk along the smooth floor with no sound.
The door to Lord Dunkan’s room is wooden with metal hinges. She slowly opened the door, making sure no noise could be heard. The wood creaked and groaned slightly as she moved it. She watched Lord Dunkan’s tendril making sure it stayed asleep.
The door did not wake him. He sleeps peacefully on his back. He is unaware of her presence. It would only take a second to kill him. Laurissa could be next to him and pulse her power into his heart within a heartbeat. She could also simply decapitate him from where she stood. He would never know. Unfortunately, the contract is in motion. If Lord Dunkan did die, it would not stop millions of humans from turning into vampires. His vision could become a reality through the other masters. Lord Dunkan will live until the masters come.
Laurissa quietly entered his library and began searching through scrolls looking for ways to defend herself and kill someone. She could use tactics of killing someone as a way to think of defenses. She has no reason to actually kill another being, but she must prepare herself if ever that time came. It is apparent that anyone could be her enemy. She wondered if Edna would betray her.
A shadow appeared behind her, startling her. Laurissa turned to see Lord Dunkan leaning in the doorway. His look is of simple curiosity. He truly wanted to know the secret she held. Laurissa only looked at him emotionless.
“What is it you look for?”
“I want to know how to defend myself from any attack.”
“You do well enough on your own.”
“Against someone, I know and understand their weaknesses, perhaps, but not a stranger. You say I would be desired by any male. I wish to learn how to prevent another would be slaver from taking me or harming me.”
Lord Dunkan’s eyes glowed. The blue color deepened, and a red hue began to rise. The thought of another male claiming Laurissa infuriated him. “You simply kill him, my dear, by any means possible.”
“If it were truly that easy, your house and the houses you are aligned with would already be dead. Everyone is much more powerful and physically stronger than me. You have proven this several times. I have tried to drain you of your blood and tried using your sword against you. I have tried stopping your heart, and I have tried angering another master, and each time I have lost.”
The passion in his eyes flowed out like water released from a dam. He reached around Laurissa without leaving her gaze and pulled a large scroll. “This one has everything you need to know. It has been a decade or more since I last updated it, but it should be more than what you need.” Laurissa reached for it, and Lord Dunkan pulled it away. “I do not freely share my knowledge, my dear.”
“You gave me that book and showed me your map.”
“Yes, and each time there was something to gain. The book was to make you grow so I can study your secrets. The map was a gift for being my mate for a night. I will not allow you to simply go through the scrolls at your leisure.”
Laurissa glared at him. He is stalling. He wants to trap her and keep her.
Lord Dunkan chuckled “You know me well, my dear.” He stepped aside, allowing Laurissa to squeeze by. As she passed him, he took the opportunity to caress her hair and allow it to flow through his fingers. “Do you wish to earn the scroll?” Lord Dunkan cupped a handful of her hair and inhaled her scent.
Laurissa thought it over. She darkened her tendril and walked away from an amused Lord Dunkan. It is truly becoming a game. If she waited until she killed Lord Dunkan, she could read the scrolls then. They would be hers to do what she pleased. She has proven she could handle any of Dunkan’s vampires. They would be foolish to try to attack her again.
Laurissa waited for the other houses to make an appearance so her enemy is near and make quick work. Surprise is her only advantage. No one suspects a young female to rise up and attack. It would be dangerous to not be protected when in the presence of eleven males and Dunkan’s vampires. Perhaps she could kill him now and learn from the scrolls, then defeat the other houses.
Time is not truly on her side. She is certain there were other vampires who did not agree with Lord Dunkan. She did not want to kill everyone, only those who deserve it. All life deserves a chance to live to its fullest. She could seek the vampire out then go to the houses, but she must be able to defend herself first. If she killed Dunkan now, she would lose her element of surprise.
Edna is her feet and eyes. She would be able to go where Laurissa could not. Edna would need protection as well. But could she trust her? Something was wrong with her yesterday. She hid something from Laurissa.
Edna was still her charge, and it is her responsibility to protect Edna. She needed to be able to protect herself first. Laurissa felt she had no choice. A battle is imminent and will soon arrive. She needed to be protected and armed to win or die.
“What is it you want?”
Lord Dunkan beamed at the victory. “Select one hundred females for Emrick from the homes I selected yesterday. He will be returning to Norstrumn today.”
“I have said I will not be a part of your plans. You told me you would not force me to be a part of it.”
“No one is forcing you, my dear. I simply have a price for my knowledge. You may pay for it or not. That is your choice. You are my mate, and I have honored my duties to date. Reading my scrolls is not privileged to you, nor am I obligated to give them to you.”
“Now, who is infuriating?” Laurissa snapped and stormed out of the room. Edna is in the sitting room. She jumped up when she saw Laurissa. The stench of fear emanated from her. “Edna? What is it?”
“It is nothing. Are you going to train today?”
“This is nothing? What is it you fear?” Laurissa asked, truly concerned about her.
“You do not need to fear me. I will not harm you. What have I done to cause you to fear me?” Laurissa growled with frustration.
“It is your rage, sister. You are consumed with it. I can see death in your eyes.”
Laurissa softened her features and sent a tendril to Edna. Edna accepted and sent one to Laurissa, connecting them to a private conversation. Laurissa darkened her tendril and projected, “It is time you understand something. I am in need of your help.”
“Name it, sister. Whatever you need, you shall have it.” Edna felt hopeful.
“I cannot speak right now. I will see you after dinner. Lord Dunkan has an errand for me.”
“I will wait.”
“Thank you, sister.”
Laurissa embraced Edna and sent a flow of love and gratitude to her. Edna giggled, but her fear is still strong.
Laurissa hurried into the village and looked for Emrick. She found him near the northern entrance of Madwell. He is a well built male. All of Dunkan’s sons are strong and handsome. Emrick had short brown hair that he kept combed back. His eyes are a soft brown that any female could melt into.
“Has Lord Dunkan contacted you?”
“He has. I suggest you work quickly. I have a schedule I must meet.”
“Yes, Master Emrick.” She sent a probe to Emrick requesting a connection. He accepted and sent one to her. Emrick is not as angry as Lord Dunkan. He does not have the desire to dominate other vampires. He is simply carrying out orders.
Laurissa went into the first house on the bottom floor. A family of five lived in the single room. The mother had two young daughters and two sons. The sons were old enough to remain behind.
“Do as I command. Do not speak or make a noise. Do not flee.” They all stood perfectly still with blank expressions. “Master Emrick. This one’s sons are old enough to stay. Would you like to take them to the men?” she projected.
“Make them stand outside. You will take a group after I have the women.” Laurissa instructed the sons to wait for her outside and the females to meet Emrick outside.
Laurissa went to the top floor and found a young maiden and her mother. Laurissa took the mother and instructed the maiden to stay in the house. Lord Dunkan wanted the maidens for breeding. The older women are to be housed to work their trade. This one will go with Emerick and will most likely be fed on. Laurissa’s heart began to fail her. She hoped the information in the scroll is worth the pain she inflicted on these families.
By the end of the day, Laurissa emptied one hundred homes. Emerick took one hundred and twenty females. One hundred to replace the men and the females’ young. The young will return here one day. Three of the one hundred is pregnant. Emrick will now have seven pregnant women he will have to manage. There were only eighty boys or adolescent males and ten maidens who will breed. As Emrick left, Laurissa projected, “Master Emrick, may I ask you something?”
“What is it, girl?” His annoyance is clear. Laurissa locked onto his gaze and approached him. She could feel his discomfort. “Do you feel the same toward these humans as Lord Dunkan? Do you share his dream?”
Emrick is alarmed by her question. He knows this one belongs to Lord Dunkan. As his mate, she is in the position to run his estate. Lord Dunkan has made it clear she would have authority in Madwell.
“Does Lord Dunkan suspect otherwise?” he asked.
Laurissa did not answer. She simply looked at him, waiting for his answer.
Emrick’s posture stiffened, and he cupped his hands over Laurissa’s jaw. She felt very uncomfortable and summoned her power to release if he attacked her.
With both his voice and through the tendril, Emrick said, “I believe humans are fodder. They exist to fill our bellies, nothing more.”
Laurissa looked deep within his statement. His scent and his posture told her he spoke the truth.
“You did not answer my question. Do you share Lord Dunkan’s dream?”
He took his hand away. “I care not what happens to them. He is my Lord, and I will do as he commands.”
Emrick turned and gathered the females, then began leaving Madwell.
Emrick is loyal to Dunkan. He will die alongside him. Laurissa began her journey back to the manor to read the scrolls. Several humans she has befriended gave friendly greetings to her as she passed. She sadly greeted them back and continued.
She noticed Lord Dunkan approaching her as she left Madwell. He had his new charge with him. They planned on learning the hunt tonight. “My dear, I wish to introduce our newest vampire Boros. Boros, this is my mate, Laurissa.”
“It is an honor to meet you.” His eyes glowed brightly, and Laurissa felt very uncomfortable under his gaze. She could feel his eyes bore to her very soul as if she stood completely nude in front of him. His intelligence seemed to be from a being older than he physically shows. She would expect this gaze from an older vampire, not one only days old. She will need to watch this one very carefully.
“Like wise. Are you showing Boros the hunt?”
“I am. Would you like to join us?”
She could feel Boro’s gaze as she spoke with Lord Dunkan. The hair on her neck stood up in an alarm. “I have studying to do, my Lord.”
“Yes, of course. The scroll is on my desk, my dear. I shall join you soon.”
“Thank you, my Lord.”
Laurissa made her way to the manor and projected. “Be mindful of Boros. He is dangerous.”
“Yes, I know. Is he not a delight?”
Laurissa was unsure why she thought to warn Dunkan of the vampire he trained. It no longer matters to her what happened to Lord Dunkan. She supposed it is because she needs him to live until the other masters come. It will make her plans easier to execute.