Laurissa woke to see the sun is high in the sky.
“Good morning, my Queen.” Lord Dunkan said cheerfully.
“I am not a queen.” Laurissa growled. This is becoming tiresome.
“Perhaps not in the human definition, but you are a queen in the vampire world.”
Laurissa sat up with a sigh feeling hopeless. Perhaps she should stop fighting. It has done nothing but cause trouble.
“You cannot stop being who you are.” Lord Dunkan responded to her thought.
Laurissa flopped back down on the bed and closed her eyes. She wanted the nightmare to end. The harder she pulled and fought, the deeper she sunk. She is only one female vampire. She is too young to fight a region of males. She cannot even protect herself, let alone her charges. It is hopeless. A tear traveled down her cheek as the anguish began to consume her.
Laurissa must have fallen asleep. She woke late in the night with Lord Dunkan curled around her. Laurissa quickly got up to dress. Too much valuable time has been lost!
Lord Dunkan woke with her sudden movement. “Where are you going, my Queen.”
“I much prefer you calling me dear, my Lord. I have wasted an entire day. There is work to be done.”
Laurissa realized she felt very hungry and weak. She would need to feed. When was the last time she ate? The days seem to meld together. She is losing track of time. Laurissa admonished herself. She must concentrate, or she will lose.
“You have been asleep for two days, my dear.”
“Two days? You did not deem me queen last night?”
“No. It is late into the second night. Dawn of the third day will arrive in a couple hours.”
Despair gripped her. She could feel madness fight for control in her mind. Laurissa ran out of the manor and darkened her tendril. She almost collided with Keres.
“Keres!” Laurissa embraced her. “It is good to see you!”
“I cannot say the same, Laurissa.”
Laurissa looked hurt. “Have I done something to offend you?”
“If you do not remember, then it is not worth my breath.” Keres growled. Keres had three other vampires with her. Laurissa stepped aside to allow them in the manor.
“Lord Dunkan is awake. I will send for him.” She said sadly.
Laurissa opened her tendril and walked into the sitting room behind Keres. She viewed Keres as an older sister. She was always there for her. Does she still blame her for Thana’s death? Or was it Zillah’s? It all seems so pointless.
“Keres can we talk?” although she warned Keres to leave and secretly hoped she stayed away, she is glad to see her. She must know where her loyalties lay.
“There is nothing I wish to say to you.”
“Please.” Laurissa touched Keres’s arm.
Keres looked at Laurissa and noticed her gown. It is not the gown Lord Dunkan insists they wear. Something has changed. “Meet me in my chambers.”
“Thank you.” Laurissa responded genuinely and left.
“My Lord. I have news for you.” She heard Keres through Lord Dunkan’s tendril.
“Welcome back, my dear. I see you have grown our family. Excellent work.” Laurissa could feel his lust as he viewed the females.
“Thank you, my Lord. Konrad received your order kindly and has agreed to fill it.”
“Excellent. Your charges will sleep in Madwell. There are vacant homes to the east. Make sure you instruct them on the rules.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“I suggest you show respect to Laurissa. She is my mate.” He warned with his smooth dangerous voice.
“Yes, my Lord.”
“You must be tired. You may retire to rest.” He said, dismissing Keres.
“I know where the houses are, Master. I will take our charges and find a place.” One of the new females said.
“Thank you, Camden.”
Lord Dunkan returned to his chambers, and Keres walked into her room. Laurissa sat on the bed patiently waiting for the blond vampire to appear. She could feel her anger and disappointment.
”What is it you wish to say?” Keres said tartly as she closed her door. She was weary and only wanted to rest.
“I beg your forgiveness Keres. Whatever it is I have done. Please tell me. It hurts my heart to know you are displeased with me. Are you upset about Thana or Zillah?”
Keres softened her posture and looked at Laurissa. She saw the young girl who she cared for. She was only eight years old when Dunkan brought her into the home. She was so innocent and full of life.
“No young one. I grieve over their loss; however, I know Lord Dunkan commanded it. He is master here, and you must do as he commands. It is your disrespect that has angered me. You were commanded to not speak to any of us, and yet you did. I suffered for your disobedience the night you tried to escape. You caused Lord Dunkan to punish me with his power.”
“That was a month ago at least!”
“Yes, and I remember it as if it were yesterday.”
“Oh, Keres! Please forgive me! I never meant for any of this to happen.”
Keres’s heart broke. She sat next to Laurissa and embraced her. She sees the growth Laurissa has made. Her arrogance and disrespect may have finally been broken.
“You are forgiven, young one. I suppose I should stop calling you that. You have grown beautifully.”
“Thank you. I will leave you to rest.”
Laurissa ran to Madwell to feed. It was nearing dawn. The people will soon wake. Laurissa found a trader traveling into the market. She quickly fed on him then left undetected. It would do no good if the villagers saw her. The people know her here. Laurissa quickly went to the wooded area and began training.
“Laurissa?” She heard a whisper. She stopped and looked to find Edna in the distance.
“It is safe, Edna.”
Edna carefully came and embraced Laurissa. “I worried for you. I have not seen Vass in a few days, then you disappeared. I feared Dunkan discovered what you have been doing.”
“Dunkan knows what is happening. Vass was captured and made to tell Kissar what I am doing.”
“And you are still here? Did you free yourself?”
“No, Edna. Dunkan believes I am a queen and wishes to make use of me.”
“You are a queen, Laurissa.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I am uncertain. You have a power of authority that screams to be recognized.”
“It is my leadership, nothing more?”
“I do not know what it is, sister.”
“I see. How is Ethan?”
“Pathetic dog.” Edna blurted out.
Laurissa could not help the giggle. “Why do you say that?”
“He has done nothing by cry and complain about how he does not want to be a vampire or take part in our war.”
“Bring him to me at once.” Laurissa said sternly. She did not like what she heard. Ethan is probably a virgin. Laurissa recalls Lord Dunkan’s description of his encounter with a virgin vampire. Ethan will be cancer she must to rid herself of.
Edna flinched. “Yes, sister.” And ran into the woods.
While she waited for Edna’s return, Laurissa envisioned her enemy in Lord Dunkan’s sitting room. Ten masters, Lord Dunkan, and his nine vampires, sat around the large table. Laurissa stood behind Lord Dunkan. The females stood behind each master, and his males sat at the table. They were all in her vision. Like lightning, she summoned her pain and anger and sent a dagger tendril to all of the vampires, slicing the bottom of the bulb. They all fell at the same time. Laurissa stood panting and leaning on a tree. It took everything she had.
Laurissa heard footsteps approach. She stood up and composed herself. Edna pushed Ethan in front of Laurissa and stood behind him.
“Remove your clothing, Ethan.” Laurissa said sternly.
“What? Why?” He whined.
“You will regret making me ask again.”
Ethan paled and begun taking his shirt off then his pants. Laurissa could feel his discomfort.
“Remove everything.” Laurissa commanded.
“But I. I.”
Laurissa took his neck and pinned him to the tree. He screamed and began to cry. Laurissa pulled his loincloth off and studied him.
“Silence!” Laurissa warned.
Ethan is mortified. He began struggling to free himself and continued crying.
“You are virgin!” Laurissa released him. Ethan fell to the ground and balled into a fetal position. He felt violated.
“Get up!” Laurissa hissed. She is disgusted by the display of weakness coming from a male vampire.
“You are going to kill me! I do not want to see you do it.”
“I am not going to kill you, Ethan.” Laurissa softened her voice. He looked up and met her gaze. “You are released. You will go north as far as you can and build a home there. You are of no use to me.”
“What did I do?”
“Do you wish to fight for me or peacefully live on a farm.”
“I do not want to fight.”
“Leave now! Go north.” Laurissa commanded.
Ethan scrambled to collect his clothing and ran.
“What was that all about, sister?”
“That fool Tallon turned a virgin human into a vampire. They make weak vampires. Ethan will not live long.”
“Good to know. Pity about Ethan. Do you know where Vass is?”
“I last saw him three days ago and sent him in hiding. You can try the small stone building east of here.” Laurissa paused and looked at Edna. “How are you?”
“I am well. I am anxious to be done here.”
“Lord Dunkan knows you are alive and in contact with me. As long as you stay out of his sight, you are free to go where ever you please. Find a home near Madwell if you wish. You deserve it.” Most of the humans who knew Edna as a human are gone. There is little risk she will be recognized.
“Thank you, sister.”
Laurissa silenced her mind and sat on the ground. She brought the image of Lord Dunkan’s full sitting room to her mind. She gathered her power and cut down the vampire once again. The drain was immediate. Her chest felt heavy as her power left her. Only half of the vampires collapsed. She needed rest and leaned on a tree.
“I am alright, Edna. I am weakened from training.”
“What is it you plan to do?”
“That will be revealed when the time is right.”
Laurissa stood and traveled to Madwell with Edna close behind. They both recognized Edna was commanded to never return to Madwell. There are still humans that can recognize Edna; however, most of them have left. Laurissa enjoyed her presence and stayed near the market. Edna’s addiction was always done in secret. Those humans rarely stayed in the open, and her husband is no longer a part of the community.
Dunkan’s and Emerick’s control of the village has begun to spread to the poorer parts of town. The wealthy have all gone leaving their homes abandoned and available for Dunkans sons and daughters. The male slaves are also housed there. The female slaves are housed toward the poorer part of Madwell. Laurissa was forced to empty those homes to send to Emerick to obtain a scroll from Dunkan. This will be over soon, and the humans will be able to live freely.
Laurissa stopped at each of the vendors and spoke kindly to each one as she passed. They greeted Edna warmly as she was introduced. She then continued walking in and out of allies and up and down paths leading to neighborhoods.
Edna quietly followed Laurissa giving her space. She wished there is more she could do for Laurissa. She hated seeing her in anguish.
Laurissa watched and listened for any vampire activity. Vampires are now living in Madwell. The scent of human blood can cause the vampire to feed more than they should.
She stopped in front of the breeding houses and listened to the homes. One of the houses was in the act. The other houses are quiet. It truly saddened her. The vampires are not gods. They should not act as such. Laurissa traveled to where the males were kept careful to avoid Edna’s neighborhood. Most of the men are working in the newly tilled farmland. Laurissa jumped onto a rooftop and scanned the land as far as she could see.
“What is it you are looking for?”
“Nothing and everything. My energy is spent. I must feed again to continue. Vampires are everywhere, and they mean to turn as many humans as possible. I watch for trouble there. I also listen to the people. They have stories I love to listen to. You can learn a lot by just listening. Mothers preparing meals with love, fathers tilling the land and teaching their sons the trade. Grandmothers tell stories of days of old. Travelers bring news from lands they see.
“There are great big mountains that have snow all year round, oceans so deep they hold secrets the sailors only dream about. They tell of gods and magic. There is a world out there, Edna. A fantastic world full of mystery.” Laurissa’s voice sounded quiet and saddened.
“You learned all of that listening to these humans?”
“Mostly. Some of Dunkan’s scrolls and books have also brought light to the world out there. Did you know there is a beetle that flies and eats dead flesh?”
“The Egyptians create jewelry of this beetle. A trader told me about this. They have discovered a new metal, and they create art with it.”
“You are amazing, Laurissa. I am glad to know you.”
Laurissa kept silent, taking in the serenity and beauty of the land.