Soon after dusk Lord Dunkan opened his tendril to call for Laurissa. She has been near the woods the last two days. His patients is running thin.
“My dear, we must feed. If you wish to starve, that is your choice. Come to the manor so I may leave.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
Laurissa stood and walked toward Madwell. She found a human and fed before Lord Dunkan arrived. Laurissa avoided Lord Dunkan and went to the manor, then back to the spot in the woods as he returned. Gratitude went through his tendril and then darkened, leaving Laurissa alone once again.
Edna waited, leaning on a tree. “Hello, sister.”
“Greetings, Edna. You look well.”
“And you look better than the last time I saw you.”
“Yes, Lord Dunkan has released his grip, but still denies me freedom and holds on to his beliefs.”
“I am sure you can defeat him. I found another male. He is only a day old. I snatched him from master Garreth’s house. This one you can train to your liking.”
“How did you kidnap a vampire from a house?”
“The house slept, and the vampire who turned him went to his chambers to allow the blood to work. This male has not woken up from his first feeding.”
“You have done well! Where is he?”
“There is a clearing in the woods about a mile from here. I made a small shelter there. It is where I have been staying.”
“Are you keeping him?”
“I would like to present him to you, sister.”
“I would indeed like to meet him. I will allow you to do his training.”
“As you wish. Master Garrath’s house sits near a small village called Kilhurst. Vass told me he was the first generation just released and the second generation was being picked. This young vampire is the second generation. A total of thirty new vampires have been made in Kilhurt alone. Kilhust only had one thousand people living in it. In a week, another forty humans will make the third generation.”
“Lord Dunkan is starting his second generation. The masters are going against what they agreed upon, just as Lord Dunkan thought they would. He commanded all of his vampires to turn a human as well. They should be working on their second generation. That would make another thirty here. If the other houses are doing the same, we are looking at hundreds of new vampires in the next week. The more humans that are turned into a vampire, the more difficult it will be to accomplish my goal. The masters will be leaving their houses next week to travel here. Continue finding all you can. Is Vass helping you?”
“Yes. He went north to the town of Saulet. Kissar is master over that village.”
Laurissa cringed. Kissar is a particularly dangerous vampire. She can still feel his meaty fingers around her neck and the piercing pain she received when he kicked her for pulsing power into him. She hoped Vass would show caution.
“Once the masters arrive, I will free myself, and we will be able to travel to the other houses to finish the cleansing of Dunkan’s taint. It will be difficult, but I believe we can accomplish this.”
“If you can kill Lord Dunkan, then you can kill any vampire.”
“Thank you for your confidence, Edna. I know how to kill one vampire. If I am surrounded or surprised, I will not overcome. I am still young compared to most of the vampires here. I must continue training.”
“You will be successful, sister. Good always overcomes evil. The young vampire will be waking soon. Allow me to bring him to you.”
“I will wait for you here.”
Laurissa sat on the ground and leaned on a tree. As Edna ran off into the woods, Laurissa wondered if she could hear Edna as she talked to the new vampire. She summoned her power and projected her mind outward, taking everything in, then focused on Edna’s footsteps.
Laurissa is able to hear clearly as Edna slowed her footsteps then stopped. She could hear two heartbeats, which she assumed were Edna’s and the male’s hearts. Edna stayed quiet for a time, then the relaxed heartbeat changed its rhythm as its body began to wake up. The male groaned slightly then breathed in deeply as his heart began to race.
“Fear not. You are safe.”
“Where am I?”
“We are in the woods north of Kilhurst.”
“Why did you bring me here?”
“Your life is in danger, young vampire. Your master planned to train you to consume humans. My Master will kill any who try to achieve human annihilation.”
“I don’t want to kill anyone.”
“Come with me. I will introduce you to Laurissa.”
Laurissa stayed where she was and listened to their footsteps.
“Is she going to kill Tallon?”
“She does not tell me her plans. She barely trusts me.”
“I am uncertain. I believe it has to do with her master. He controls and abuses her.”
“That’s awful. Have you tried defending her?”
“Who is her master?”
“His name is Lord Dunkan. It is his land you walk on.”
“Why doesn’t Laurissa simply leave here if she is unhappy?”
“That is for her to tell. She does not share her reasons with me.”
“It seems a shame. I think you’re nice. If I may be bold, I think you are very lovely.”
“You think me lovely?” Edna grinned.
“Yes, I do. Do vampires court?”
Edna giggled, “We have human feelings. That does not change.”
“What does your master want with me?”
“She will tell you herself.”
“Should I be worried? Is she going to kill me?”
The footsteps stopped. “Fear not, young vampire. She only wishes to speak with you. The result of your conversation will determine her action. You have not killed anyone. You will be fine.”
There was silence for a moment, then the male said. “What is your name?”
“I am called Edna.”
“Edna. That’s a beautiful name. Please tell me what is happening. You haven’t said anything to me. Yesterday I was in the field tending my crops, and out of nowhere, Tallon appears, tells me he is turning me into a vampire, and then I wake up with a splitting headache and you standing over me. You tell me your master is killing vampires and that Tallon is killing humans. Please help me! This sounds like a war. I’m ashamed to say I am frightened.”
“You have nothing to fear. My Master’s name is Laurissa. She fights for the lives of humans. Now that you are a vampire, you must feed…”
“On human blood. I know. I don’t want this.”
“You must feed to survive. This she knows. She is a vampire herself. She feels we can co-exist with humans.”
“Do you think vampires and humans can live together?”
“It is hard to tell. We are predators. The humans are our prey. However, humans are just like us. They have families and are sociable. It is not hard to imagine being friends with a human. Come now. She waits for us at the opening.”
They were silent the rest of the way. Edna appeared with the young vampire behind her within a few short moments. Edna sat in front of Laurissa.
“Sister, this is the young vampire…my apologies, what are you called?”
“What am I called? Oh, my name! My name is Ethan.”
Ethan is a young man. He looked to be just entering puberty. His facial hair is soft and not the ruff whiskers older men usually have. His eyes glowed with a hunger every new vampire fought. They did not show his natural color. Only the yellow ring of the demon they each fight daily. This vampire is amazingly calm, considering the gut wrenching hunger he must be feeling. He rang his finger together, and his shoulders slumped forward. The stench of fear radiated off him. Laurissa wanted to assure him she has no intention of harming him. This vampire used to be a meek human. She must be gentle with him.
“Please have a seat, Ethan.” Laurissa said. “You must have many questions. Edna tells me she saved you from the house of Garrath.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know who Garrath is.”
Laurissa looked surprised. “Tell me where you are from.”
“I had a small farm a mile south of Kilhust. Tallon is the one who turned me into a vampire. I remember him drinking my blood then making me drink his. After that, I woke up here with Edna standing over me.”
This is interesting. Laurissa has read numerous scrolls explaining the hierarchy of the human government. Lord Dunkan fancies himself as Lord of Madwell. Lords answer to kings; however, this region does not have any kings. Lord Dunkan thinks he is a god and wishes to rule the humans and vampires in this region. She assumed that meant each village had a Lord and the lord would be the master vampire.
“I believe Tallon is one of Garrath’s vampires, sister.”
“Who is Lord over your land?”
“L-Lord? My family moved to this land to be free of kings. We thought this land was not owned by anyone. My grandparents left the home to my folks, and I will one day inherit the land and hopefully grow my family there.” He said as he lowered his eyes, still wringing his hands and looking very nervous.
“Edna is going to train you in the ways of a vampire. You will learn to inconspicuously feed off humans and leave them alive.”
“You’re-You’re not going to kill me?”
“Why would I kill you? Have you done something that warrants an execution?”
“By the gods! No! Edna explained that you are killing vampires who mean to annihilate humans.”
“Do you wish to make the vampire a dominant species? Are you better than a human? Do you believe humans are nothing more than cattle?”
“I don’t believe I am better than a human. I still feel human. My teeth are the only change.”
Laurissa smiled at the innocence. Ethan glanced at Laurissa then hurriedly looked down.
“You have had a complete change. You are no longer the same species. Perhaps when you are done training, you can help me protect the humans from vampires who wish to destroy the human race.”
“I don’t know how I could help milady. I am a simple farmer. I really just want to forget this nightmare and return home. If the beautiful Edna would be willing to teach me how to be free of this curse, I would be eternally grateful.” His voice was mournful. Laurissa understood why he called vampirism a curse. It is good to see he will not take advantage of anyone. His memories have not yet faded. His view on humans may yet change.
“You are no longer a farmer, Ethan. You are a vampire. You will never return to your home or way of life. If you do, your life will be forfeit. Is that understood?”
“If I can’t go home, where do I go?”
“If you return to your life, you will feast on your family. I can see the hunger in your eyes. Do you want to be responsible for murdering your family?
“N-no! I don’t want that. Please! You have to help me. All I want to do is go home and live my life peacefully.”
“My heart breaks for you, young vampire. There is no cure. You are now and will always be a vampire. You may go anywhere you like. The world is your playground. You are immortal now. You can do anything you wish.”
“Anything, but go home.”
“Yes. Believe me. Your transformation is incomplete. You will soon forget you were ever human. Allow your family to mourn their loss. If you go to them, you will be forced to kill them. No human can know of our race. It would start an unnecessary war. It is the best thing to do, believe me. Edna will guide you in controlling your hunger. I will hunt you and kill you myself if you give in to your hunger. For now, you are free to do as you please.”
Ethan sat staring at Laurissa, and his mouth opened and closed like a fish.
“Spit it out, Ethan.”
He looked defeated and looked down at the grass. A great sadness came from him. “Perhaps it is time to take Ethan to a place where he can rest.”
“Yes, sister. Good night. Ethan, please come with me. I assure you, everything will be alright.” Edna said as she helped Ethan to his feet. Laurissa listened to the footsteps as they walked back to Edna’s shelter.