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Author's note: I'm basing this off dreams I have all the time and really the inspiration is from everyday things that I am dramatizing here in the story.
The slats on the small, wooden door rattled under a banging fist. This sound awoke the slowly waking family. Sleepy feet touched the cold floor, and off was the start to another new day. It would most likely be the same as the last, but these farming families never seemed to complain about a hard day’s work. The sun had not risen yet, but that was how each day was here. Mountains and foothills covered the land, and blocked the sun's light from the ground until midmorning, but famers were used to these tricks. Getting up and starting the day's work with firelight and nymphs was how they all worked, and how it had been done for hundreds of years. The nymphs, being awakened, flew nosily and angrily around in their clear jars. Fire nymphs, radiating heat caused their own glasses to fog in the cool air, but this would not matter this morning. The knock to wake the creatures was a bad omen, like a crow caw from overhead.
Dust and dirt from years of neglect filtered down from the cracks around the cracked frame, handmade and ancient. The entire home was built from the materials around it. Stone, dirt, and wood were the basic essentials. Stone and dirt for the flow covered by layers of thing wood planks, and stone and wood log walls. Inside was dark and dirty, but it kept the heat in and the cold out during the winter, and the hot out during the summer. It helped that part of the home was built underground into the hill. Most farms were made this way to keep food and milk preserved.
“Hold on, I'm coming..." yelled the old farmer, who had not had an urgent call in years, from the back part of his home. His aching bones cried out from years of abuse and malnourishment, but he carried on. He had to take care of his family no matter what. Now, with the help from his many children, the work was getting less for him, but there was just so much to be done. Especially in the early spring, like this, there was always something to be completed. Fields needed to be readied, crops to be picked out and planted, herds needed to be moved, and the storage areas needed to be cleared out of last year’s leftovers if there were any. Going through a list of things he would need to get finished on this day he grumbled his way through the home.
His house was centered on a gathering room where a great fire could be built and lit, but that also caused the room to be dark and sooty. Neglect found its way in quickly during the winters. His voice carried across the bare room, but his bones ached and crackled and he clambered his way to the door. Dust scuttled around his bare feet, leaving a trail from the kitchen where he had been eating. The fire had burnt out sometime during the night and was just now being relit by his wife who shuffled around the home.
The sun had not yet come up, but he knew his way around the few furniture items that decorated his living from the years he spent in this home, a place that his ancestors had built. He shrugged into his tunic that lay on the large wooden table where he and his family ate most of their meals. His wife had mended the plain shirt the night before so that he would have it for the morning's work. Great, his aging wife was. She had her own struggles through the days, but she loved and was submissive, which was what every man wanted in a woman. As he reached the door his many children were beginning to stir with the small sounds of patting feet and giggles above his head. The farmer pulled the block locks to the side and jerked the old door open as the fist began to pound repeatedly. "What's the hurry," his deep voice grumbled, but his eyes searched up to a hidden face and a man in an array of black cloaks.
A man of great stature, taller than most men, stood in his doorway, a long sword hung at his belt, and a dark cloak shadowed the features of the strangers face even more than the darkness of outside did. What little sun did shine this early in the morning would not have been able to show the man's face under all the cloth. The man’s cloaks billowed around him in the breeze that had been dying from a previous storm that had ravaged the small town for days. "I've come for the girl," and with that he stepped into the smoky room, knocking passed the old farmer. He stumbled back into the table, knocking over a simple glass vase with wild flowers. The farmer’s wife came into the cluttered room carrying a sack of grain for animal feed. She cast her eyes down to the floor and backed into the room which she had emerged.
The stranger ignored the blind woman and started to walk to the kitchen were several children had gathered to gawk. His hand lay on the glittering hilt adorned with precious gems while he eyed each child carefully. He was here to find the girl and did not care about anyone else. "Where is the girl who is not to be yours?" His voice was deep and throaty. The question was more of a demand as he turned to the farmer once more.
The farmer had just started to get over the fact that the cloaked stranger had invaded his home and demanded a girl. His first thought was that this man might have been drunk or crazy, but there were no weapons to use against this man. Meanwhile his wife's voice had risen in pitch with her panic. Her voice cut the old man’s heart like a dagger, his breath caught in his chest and he thought, Surely I will die here today. “Who are you?” he stammered, voice barely above a whisper.
From the loft above, a young boy clambered down the stairs. He hadn't nearly seen two decades but acted as he had many years of experience. He pulled a dull and banged up dagger from inside his robe and pointed the blade at the intruder. The shadowed man with dark hair and eyes seemed even darker in the light of the hearth while he studied the strange man standing in his home. "Leave, Stranger. We don't want trouble, but I’ll make it if I have to."
"Then put your toy away, child. I am only seeking the female child who belongs with me. I can smell her here, in this house.” He growled in an inhuman like manner. “I've searched for her for years, and I know she is here, somewhere." The stranger had a thick accent, but his voice rang through the house and cut through all the chatter of the many children who had gathered to stare. The house now lay in a thick fog of silence. "She would be nearing her nineteenth birthday on the full moon. Her coming here was an accident by an incompetent comrade of mine,” He strode through the house, looking for signs that the girl would be here. “…who was defeated by a horde of draggs in the foothills near here.” He paused and sniffed the air. “So, I ask again, where is she? I truly do not wish to harm, you or your family, Farmer.”
The old man had started shaking, his pride and joy was going to be stripped away from him in a matter of minutes, and he understood that there was not a single thing he could do about it. His beautiful daughter had to be taken by this stranger because, in his heart, he could not risk getting the rest of his family injured or killed because of one child he took in. Ever since he found her, burned, sickly, and abandoned, he knew that this day would eventually come. One never believes that the day they are living will behold the horrors they know must come true. Children of specialties are not left on purpose with mere farmers.
“Just tell him where she is!” sobbed the old woman as she clutched a small girl to her chest. Though she was blind, she knew just what child this man wanted. She had been against the child staying with them from the beginning, but she would never admit that to her husband. Her kind-hearted husband who took in many orphaned children just could not bear leaving her behind to perish. The old woman knew, too, that this day would come, and she only hoped that this evil would pass over her family and leave them intact.
"She's out in the forest behind the house. There's a path that will lead you there." His words ran together and his eyes widened at how easily he had just given up his daughter. His pointed finger dropped immediately to his side. He was so ashamed at what he had just done, but he felt like he had no other choice. The old farmer’s wife had begun weeping louder and now let out a wail that made him cringe. She had never seen the girl, and the farmer believed that his wife would surely not know the pain this will cause him. He staggered to his wife and held her hand as the stranger turned to leave.
The young boy, who had pulled his dagger, now lunged at the cloaked man with a wild battle cry. In his mind he was thinking about all the things Lynn had done for their family and how close they had become over the years. She was his sister, and he knew what it was like to be orphaned and alone. This intruder was going to have to fight to get her.
With one smooth movement the stranger caught the blade with his hand and knocked the boy on his rear. “Do not tempt me, boy.” The sword clattered to the ground a foot away and left. The silence returned as everyone held their breath. The shadowed man took one last look around and turned to leave
The boy looked as if he was going tear up, but he remained where he was. It was if he was being held down by invisible ropes. The stranger did not then hesitate to continue on his way out of the home. He expected much more violence or struggle from the family, so his job was made easy, for now. He truly would have loved to gut the family, but today was not there day to die. He knew that before the next full moon his men will have to do that job, but the man was glad that the debt of life would not be on his hands tonight, for he was about to complete a very important task for his queen. She would be happy; even though he could tell her mood for him was starting to change. He could feel her mind fading away from thoughts of him, and to some other fellow. This did not upset him, however.
Outside the sun had spread some glow on the world, and his horse waited impatiently as the man swiftly climbed onto its slick back. Tannin, the servant of Lady Morgan, had found the princess, Amilynn, of Wendrenhood and would now be able to go back to his brothers, his debt repaid. He had been searching for years now, and was forbidden to return to his queen until she was found. The girl was special to the queen, but Tannin did not understand why. All he knew was that he would never again have to just follow orders and do what was expected of him. No, he was going to be free.
Tannin, quickly finding the well-worn path that the princess had taken, for her footprints were easy to make out in the soft ground, went on his way. He clicked at his horse to continue forward and watched carefully at the trees around him and his partner. He had known that the man had not been lying about the path and the girl. His gift has always been reading minds, and his infinity was with the spirit, so knowing the truth when spoken came naturally to him. There was no way that any human could lie to him, and that assurance had never led him astray so far in his journeys. He could still hear the cries of the blind woman and her family. Tannin could not help but feel sorry for her, for she was losing a child she had never seen, and her husband was not far from the grave if he had to take a guess. The two had many children together so the woman would not be alone, and the farm would be tended to. Tannin was not worried about this family but it made him wonder about his brothers again. He had been thinking about them much more often these days. Why was he worried about this family anyways? He needed a break from work. Yes, all he needed was time with his own family. He had not seen his brothers for a couple years now... He and his brothers have all been recruited by Lady Morgan and each of their services was met except his. Soon they would all be coming back home where they owned a few shops in their small town.
The path was easy enough to follow as the sun filtered through the trees, casting long shadows across the way. She did not try to hide where she was headed and this made his job more than easy. He wondered if she would run and hide. He smiled to himself and thought about how that would make for an exciting hunt. Many of his jobs like this were exciting for him. The rush of adrenaline and smell of fear really called to his hunting soul and animal nature. The ones who run were always his favorite, for he never liked to kill too quickly. He only grumbled some because this girl was to remain untouched by his desires for now. Lady Morgan told him that he would have his fill once Lynn was housed at the castle. His horse grunted, pulling Tannin out of his mind, and began to move a little faster up a slight hill. The trees began to grow thicker, but that was not what the horse was anxious about. His horse wanted the chase as bad as he did, but for different reasons. His black horse loved to run, and that was in his nature, not the hunt, but he still loved his horse anyways.
About twenty paces up the path was a beautiful spotted mare that stood tied to a tree. Her feet stomping and her tail swatting at her legs as spirit nymphs toyed with her. Her coat, shining in the light sun, and her mane was braided with flowers woven into the different strands. What a silly look for such a beautiful horse, he thought. Thinking about these mundane things helped him to be calm and powerful while he stalked his prey.
Silently, Tannin slid off his pure black stallion and began reading the trail for any signs of the young lady. He would have to use the element of surprise to catch her, but he could persuade her as well. Many women found his looks to be quite charming and handsome. His mind reading powers doubled with mind control; unfortunately, Tannin was told that his powers may not even affect her at all. He would just have to find out for himself, but the unknowing could very well throw away everything he had been working for.
Tannin lowered himself closer to the ground, his footsteps making no sounds on the wet earth. He quitted his beating heart and quick breaths and solitarily focused on the task at hand. His eyes strained to catch any movement as he approached a ring of trees not too far ahead. Sure enough, the girl lay across a large stone slab that jutted out of the ground. The birch trees that formed a circular wall around her shielded her vision from him, but also were going to make him getting to her that much more of a problem. This girl was beautiful with long sun golden locks that fell well past her slender shoulders and down to her waist. Her bare feet swung over the edge of the rock in an innocent manner, her hands folded against her chest where her bosom was hidden under folded layers of a green and white flowing dress. She was slender and lean, but had a delicate and fragile look. Tannin was not yet closes enough to see her facial features well, but he was going to have to make his move before she notices his presence.
Amilynn had always been different. All she remembered from her past was a great fire before the farmer and his wife found her as they walked home from a far off market. She had burns and was sick for over a month after the family took her in, but even though her wounds healed, her memory would not return. She had been young, but like fog, her memory was clouded. Ami never asked anything about her past and grew to love her parents and siblings as if she had always been there with them. Her silk clothes were sold, but she always kept her necklace. She had no choice. No matter what she did it would not come off. When she first tried it cut deep into her skin and burned her, and did the same when her father tried. From time to time she tried to take it off, but for the most part it was left alone. The glowing colors a mystery to her and everyone else. Even the local jewelry seller could tell her nothing about it. Of course she was curious, but this was her family ad she knew that finding out her past was not going to be easy. She also wanted to be accepted, and once becoming friends with the farmer's youngest son, Gregory, she found that living there was quite pleasant. She often brought him here, but he could not see or feel what she did and he quickly lost interest in this place, but Ami knew that there was something special about this sanctuary.
She was a young girl who had never even been to the big town or city, and now that she was turning nineteen, the age of a woman, Ami was going to have to go through the Blood Moon Festival. This festival is for all the virgin women to dance around and show off for possible suitors in a knee high solid white dress. Not only was it going to be cold and unsightly, but the suitors would mark them with colored paints as the night went on. Many men and boys had made attempts to catch her attention but none seemed to faze her at all. Men from all the neighboring villages would come to this festival, and she knew that many would want her. Ami just did not wish to marry any of them, and considered running away. What good would that do? She would then be alone and on her own in the wilderness. She always felt out of place here in this town, even though she could never love her family any more, she somehow wondered if she belonged elsewhere. Her heart always pulled her into the forest where she could be alone with nature. This sanctuary always provided her shelter and with all the years she had come to the sanctuary not a single one of her brothers or sisters could actually enter the circle of birch trees like she could. They had all told her that it was magic, but she had always thought them as being scared until a hunter had tried to stalk her. She could still remember his rough hands pulling at her clothes, the awful stench of mead and urine coming from his dirtied clothes. She had screamed and lashed out, but what she did had no effect on the savage man or his wants. Her strength failed her, but an alpha male wolf came to her aid. The wolf had jumped the man, biting and clawing to protect Ami. She struggled back away from the gruesome scene and watched the man stagger away just to be attacked repeatedly by her protector.
Ami shut her eyes against the rising sun, feeling its warmth kiss her skin good morning. Ami had always enjoyed the simple pleasures of spring, such as the beautiful sunrises, gentle breezes, and light rains that touched the land around her. She stretched out on the cold stone, feeling it's frigidness from the storms earlier awakened her senses to everything around. Her shoes lay on the ground next to her white cloak, its soft wool made her smile. Her white gown fell around her like a blanket of snow while her necklace lay between her breasts. Ami lay on the rock daydreaming about what her life will become in the near future when she heard a faint sign behind her. Reaching out with her pale hand she just felt the fur of on her fingertips. Shasta sat grumpily down beside Ami and nuzzled her out stretched hand. "Aren't you up early?" Ami giggled as the Shasta yawed. Her wolf stretched and bounded off to the north, probably going to find a meal. The silence the wolf brought did not proceed to leave as Shasta did, but lingered. Not very many animals stayed around when the large, black wolf wandered around, but it is a fact of life. Ami laughed at her companion and rolled on her side. She felt the cool stone against her cheek and was surprised that a single tear had found a way from her eye. Feeling the tear tickle its way down her face and onto the stone's surface caught Ami's attention for she knew that her tears were unlike any of her family’s'. Her tears were rare and few, but they had healing properties, and could grow lilies when they touched the ground. It was an odd thing that Ami kept hidden. Some of the other villagers already thought her as being a witch, but they just did not understand. When was the last time she had cried? Ami could not remember, but there was the proof that someone around her was upset. She always knew, Ami could feel it inside her and the odd weariness that came with it. Fear, sadness, and desperation made their way into her heart.
Blocking out the person's pain was Ami's only source of relaxation, but the nagging feeling settled into her gut. Something was wrong, very wrong indeed. Sighing and closing her eyes to the sound of nature Ami began her search through the different spirits around her. Many of the animals hid in dins while the birds were chattering and spreading their wings for an early morning flight. People in the Village of Lumbridge were just beginning to awaken, but her home, she found, was the source of inner turmoil. Maybe her mother had scolded one of her younger sisters. The young ones cried so often that it made Ami's head hurt just thinking about it.
Immediately Ami shut down her empathy skills and relaxed her mind as she would any other day. She was going to sleep for a while in the sanctuary before heading back home to help with the housework. Her mother would surely scold her for being out so early, but it was worth it to spend just a few hours here daydreaming where other minds did not constantly cross hers. Her mother thinks that the housework is never finished well by her sisters, and always ends up cleaning up after them. Her blind mother just could not keep up anymore. Ami felt like she needed to be home and the despair of people began to grow. Excitement? Maybe the calf was finally born, or the merchants were coming early this year. Sensing that someone was watching her she laid still on her perch. Who was this? This spirit was clouded like a coming rainstorm and odd like lightning. It thundered with greed, jealousy, and lust. Her heart began to pound hard in her chest and she held her breath for what seemed like hours. Was this person watching her? She could not tell and was frightened to find out. Whoever was out there was a stranger, and that was not a good sign for her. When she released her breath she froze, hoping that her breath only sounded loud compared to the thundering of her heart. She did not want to be accused of being a witch, or worse.
Ami struggled with herself. She did not know whether she was in danger or not. Her family was not injured or in physical pain, but she knew that whoever this person was, he had caused the fear that ripped through their hearts. Maybe this man was a vampire, but then, she could not be sure. She had only been told about vampires and had dreamt about them, but this man was defiantly not human in any way. She again took a deep breath and tried to relax. That man surely cannot enter here. No one she knew could. At least not yet, but she did not really want to find out. Ami noticed how the birds were not singing, and the squirrels lay hidden in the trees. This man was putting off great negative energy and the animals were afraid. She was worried in her heart, but he may not have seen her yet. If she moved he may then notice her being there, and that would be the end if he could enter the ring.
Ami closed her eyes and searched for her protector, but could not quite find him. His mind must have wondered a bit too far for her to reach out to him. If she screamed he would hear, but how long would it take for her wolf to get here, and would she be quick enough to make it home if she was to run? Not knowing was her worst enemy, and it was getting the best of her. Ami needed to relax and keep a strong hold of her mind or she would defiantly give herself away.
"I am ready, Father," A young warrior knelt at the Lord's feet. "Please, it is all I wish for my twentieth birthday." Tristan bowed his head deeply and awaited his answer. Inside he was yelling, but he had to keep a calm composure.
"And who will accompany you on your quest, my son? I cannot send my only heir out in the wilderness alone." The old king's face was weathered from any years of sun and battles, dark shadows lingering under his eyes as if he had not slept in ages. Looking at his queen with knowing eyes, the king stood. "Rise, my son, and walk with me. We have things to discuss." The old king rose with his golden staff for balance. His back bent and aching, he stuck his arm out for his son to walk arm in arm.
Tristan stood tall and took the crook of his father's arm without hesitation. Off they went through the lounging room, servants bowing their heads as the busied themselves with cleaning floors and dusting. Tristan’s feet, echoing against the cold stone floor as they slowly marched onward, rang against the stone halls. The aging king, Gregor, led his son through a labyrinth of hallways and passages that led them past sever rooms of question. Tristan had not been allowed everywhere and his father kept many secrets. "Where is it that we are going? I do not wish to be a bother. All I want is to find her..." His voice lowered when his father stopped in front of the ancient doors into a dungeon of sorts. "What is this place, Father?" Tristan's voice sounded eerily louder in the dimly lit arch way. Two guards bowed and swept past the two.
'This is our ancestors resting place. Home for us, Vampires, to learn from the Great Elders. Please, do enter." His voice no longer shook with age, but seemed to grow stronger. "My father and his father have come here for centuries to learn of new things, futures, battle strategies, and such. I believe that you are ready to learn of our peoples' ways. I am getting ready to rest with our kind now."
"Yes, Father." Tristan could feel the power being emitted through the door. Grabbing onto the thick iron handle, he pulled. Surprisingly enough, the door had swung freely for how heavy the wood appeared to be. His hands shook violently while his heart was hammering in his ears. While stepping into the darkness that held all the secrets, Tristan breathed in deeply. He looked back at his father who stood in the doorway for reassurance. Gregor nodded his approval with a slight tilt of his balding head and turned to leave, robes floating on the air. Tristan had dreamed of this day, and now he would drink up all the material he could. This would allow him to see so much more of the world and power around him. This power he will gain from the Great Elders will aid him in his journey to find his lost bride, his weakened power, and his honor.
Tristan lit the hundreds of candles, one by one. This would give him time to prepare his mind and to calm his body. Fire, his powerful element, obeying his will, surged through Tristan's body as the slim flames danced around him. Smiling to himself, Tristan crossed over the circle and began kneeling in front on the five pillars which stood much higher than he could have imagined. Each pillar must have reached passed the ceiling into another room, but it was hard to tell in the flickering light. Every towering pillar was representing a fallen Vampire Elder, and each with a separate element of power that was linked to that specific Vampire. Evoking the Fire Lord first, Tristan bowed deeply as a manifestation glimmered to life. The heat and light was sending a fiery blast through Tristan's muscles, but it did not seem to harm him, rather giving him strength and comfort for his journey.
"Please, My Lord, I have come here to learn." Tristan's voice did not sound like his own, but strong and confident, unlike what he was feeling inside. His stomach swam with anxiety of what he would find here. This was a place he had wanted to visit since he was old enough to talk.
"Young Prince, I have much to teach, and you have much to learn, but a sacrifice must be made to pay the price my knowledge carries. Blood is the fire that keeps all bodies working, so blood will be the currency," A voice that seemed to have no gender and no body spoke from the candle light. Tristan could feel the hot breeze on his face.
"Then blood it shall be." Taking out a small dagger that Tristan carried in his boot, he cut the shape of a half-moon into the flesh of his left hand. Wincing as a mysterious blue fire replaced the drops of blood that fell to the marble floor, Tristan began seeing the face and body of a shape shifting vampire elder. His hands were shaking slightly, but he knew that this was going to make him able to find his stolen bride.
"Your blood is strong, my dear boy. Take my hand and you will find who you seek." The blue fire took the form of a curvy woman clothed in silk, her hair draping down past her waist. She held out a slender hand to him and looked into Tristan's eyes. "I will protect you from harm."
As her hand touched Tristan, he felt himself being thrown from his body in a torrent of trusting and spasm of bursting pain. A terrible pain manifested in Tristan's head forcing him to squeeze his eyes shut against it, but yet he held on. The darkness that once shielded the eye from truly seeing began pulsing with his heartbeat. A sudden crash of nausea left him sweaty and almost weak feeling, but he knew that he must pass this test.
Taking a deep but ragged breath he pried his eyes open, but to his surprise a field of wheat lay ahead of him. A man riding a horse was traveling down a dirt road that had not been traveled in many years. Grass and weeds that were just beginning to take off overflowed over what was left of the trail Tristan did not understand this vision, but he kept watching.
The man was holding a small girl to him, her hands were tied in front of her, and her face was all but covered by a dark cloak that sunk around her small figure. Tears ran down her pale skin, but she did not cry out or make any sounds at all. Tristan was not sure what this vision had to do with him, but he ducked down further in the thick brush beside the road to get a better look, and to not get spotted himself. Tristan was unsure if these people would be able to see or sense him, but did not want to take any chances. What was this? Tristan felt his hand going for his sword only to realize that he only had on his robes. His sword and other weapons were nowhere to be seen. A sudden feeling of anger rushed over Tristan as the horseman rode nearer. Not only was the girl tied up, but she was tied to the rider. With his enhanced eyesight he could make out the unmistakable emerald eyes of the girl, and she turned to look straight into his. The brilliance of her stare took Tristan's breath away. This girl was the one who appeared in his dreams. The young girl who had once been promised to him, his bride-to-be, walked about without a care in that strange place, but here she was a slave. Trying to step out onto the rough dirt road to go after his bride, a harsh force kept him in place with a shove that bit into his skin like needles. He could not move forward to get what was rightfully his, and this just fed the determination and anger that brewed inside. His voice seemed to have been torn from his throat, and the eagerness to attack was taken away as he was ripped from the scene to another in a sudden burst of speed. Everything around him morphed into a new scene, but he hoped that this one would be a lot less mysterious and angering. This one took him to a place of peace, similar to any sanctuary courtyard at a church, like his use to attend when he was still human. Birch trees were forming a perfect circle around a billowing meadow. The sanctuary here was currently being protected by some force, and he could feel it pulling at him. That meant that Tristan was truly there in a way. This place was truly untouched and pure of any evil or darkness. A sense of calming took over this place of peace and tranquility soothed Tristan’s aching heart. A large, native rock protruded from the earth like a hand cradling the same girl he had seen before. Amilynn, sitting on the rock, looking like and angel with her golden hair and angelic face reclined on this perch like an exotic songbird of the southern countries. Her green eyes pierced into his for an eternity before her soft voice floated to his ears.
"I have never seen you here before. What is your name, Sweet?" Amilynn's voice was clear and gentle. Her eyes, flashing with curiosity, were questioning, but the smile she wore was more radiant than Tristan had ever witnessed. She had a smile gifted by a goddess.
"My, my name is Price Tristan of the Moorg, son of..." Tristan was silenced by the giggles that escaped Ami's pink lips.
"You don't need to finish. I just wanted to know your name, Tristan. Hmm, Tristan, I think that I've heard that before. Have we met? Maybe at the market or somewhere?" She stood, and took a step closer. Her silk dress and cloth robes draped around her slender frame in an elegant way that sent chills down Tristan’s spine.
Tristan could not help but to stare at her. Her beauty was radiant and her charm was filling him with a deep joy he had not felt in many years. "I believe we have, yes, but maybe we should not linger on the past, for it has already been finished. May I ask where this might be? I’m afraid I may be lost.”
"You don't even ask my name... You're a curious one, Tristan, if I may?" The prince nodded, "How does a prince travel without knowing where his feet are taking him, or without guards to protect those wondering feet?" She took another step closer, studying him.
Tristan, straightening his shoulders, replied "If I may, malady? What would a young woman such as you be doing in the wilderness by herself?" He could not help but smile slightly when Ami grinned. "Are you not afraid?"
"Of course I am not afraid. What is there to worry about when only the pure intended can enter this place? My name is Amilynn, by the way, and a young woman, such as me, can roam wherever her heart wishes." She walked around Tristan with slow sure steps. Looking him up and down in curious manner. "You are surely not a human with your structure and power, but your spirit is pure and strong. You have fangs, but hide them away. May I ask what kind of a man are you? I have never met a prince such as you before. I would surely remember a face like yours." She stopped in front of Tristan, her eyes probing his for any sign of emotion which ha gladly gave. She was so close that he could smell her, like the scent of sweet flowers and spring. Wanting to touch her skin, Tristan gently brushed a stray strand of hair from in front of her eye with the barest of touch. She did not flinch or seem to care at this gesture, and did not move away. Tristan wondered if she could hear his heart beating as he could. "You are not like most."
"No, I am no man, but a vampire, but please, Amilynn, do not fret. I am not here to do any harm. I am not what or who people need to fear. We are much more civilized than what the ignorant take us for." Tristan wanted to hold her, touch her soft skin once more, and to take her home, but he knew he could not within this vision. He paused and thought of what he needed to say before this vision would be finished. He struggled within his own heart to decide what to say, but more confidence decided to go ahead and say it. "I am your protector."
"Well, I've never met a vampire before." Ami bowed deeply with an amazing amount of grace. When she straightened she took his hand and led him to the center of the meadow. Tristan was confused by her reaction. He had expected her to run, to be afraid, but she instead was taking him to where she had been sitting in the warm sunlight. He noticed that she was younger here than earlier. Her small voice pulled him from his own thoughts. "You can claim yourself to be whomever you wish, and if you wish to protect, then no one here will stop you. You seem sad, Tristan of the Moorg..." She frowned and it took everything that Tristan had not to pull the girl into his arms. She seemed so small, so vulnerable.
His blue eyes met hers, "I am sad because I know that I will not be able to stay long."
"Will your parents miss you?"
"Yes, I will be missed if I stay, but I am very glad to have met such a nice maiden, Ami."
"How do you..." Amilynn never finished what she was going to ask because Tristan was shoved into another vision.
Fire, consuming two carriages in the night, raged with no control around what looked to be a caravan of wagons. Tristan was choking on the billowing clouds of smoke as he dropped low to the ground. A horrible smell of burnt flesh was filling his nostrils as he struggled to get his bearings. Men were barking orders, but he could hear the grumbled slander of draggs overtaking the men. Draggs, demon-like creatures, walking the world at night and feeding on souls and flesh were running about pouring violence and confusion of this parade. Usually, these foul creatures are easy to overcome or outrun, but there was not just one or two, but twenty or more in a horde. No arrow or sword was going to kill these foul demons in their rampage. Fire. That is why there was fire, but it had gotten out of hand. The draggs were a pawn in someone’s game but none of that even mattered when he saw her. A child lay crying over a fallen comrade, most likely her bodyguard from the look of his armor.
Tristan coughed violently as he crawled over bodies and rubble to the girl. Her green eyes were filled with tears and her trembling lip made Tristan's heart ache with an almost unbearable pain. She was maybe six or seven summers old, dressed in all silver and blue. Her necklace shinning with a dull blue light radiated and pulsed with her heartbeat in the thick smoke.
Tristan reached out for her, but his hand clutched air as he was thrown into his own body. Gasping for air, Tristan was struggling to focus on the candle lit room around him. His hands ached, but the images of Amilynn repeated in his mind as if he was still with her. She had needed him, she was hurt, but there was not a single thing he could have done to protect her. Where was she now? What did all those things mean? His head was exploding with pain that had nothing to do with the visions he had seen. Staggering over to a pitcher that held a rich red wine, he drank his strength back to his needing body. After a few minutes of resting, Tristan thanked the Fire Elder with some of the left over wine. He had made it through one battle, but not he needed to move on to the next if his body was to survive the next challenges.
Tristan went to kneel in front of the Water Elder. He lit the sapphire candle that sat untouched at her feet and waited in the circle carved into the floor. "Please guide me in my learning." he whispered. “Wash your knowledge over me so that I can be made wiser."
A sudden peace filled Tristan and fed his aching heart its nourishment. His pain released its hold over his entire body, and his strength returned he was ready to face another combat in the spirit world.
Ami woke in a sitting up position, and moving. Her head pounding a steady rhythm with her heart beat that seemed to loud for her ears. She had a thick black cloak around her, covering her body and all but her eyes on her face. It brought little warmth from the constantly colder winds that were brewing around her. She could not really focus on much for what seemed like hours and was probably for most of the week. The corners of her eyes kept fading to black and her head felt too heavy, but whoever had her, had tied her hands in front of her, and was roughly holding her in place. On hand around her waist and the other guiding the horse, Tannin held firmly. The rope cut into her flesh, sending sharp pains up her arms as the horse took them on a trail she had never seen before. The little comfort she had been getting about recognizing the land around her quickly faded with the first few days of travel. She cursed herself for not exploring more, but there was nothing to be done about it now. They were headed for a narrow part of the path with trees and bushes on one side that were overhead high for her and the horse. She wished that she could run, but there was nowhere for her to go if she did. Then, she thought she saw a bit of movement, but could not be sure. The man behind her tightened his grip around her waist and forced her even closer to him. Ami thought about her family and about her home at they rode on. She knew that they couldn't have gone too terribly far, and her family would start looking. People would come after her, and try to rescue her.
Now, as they neared the trees, she could not see a person, but she could feel a soul near her. It was a familiar spirit, but she could not place it. Then when she and the rider were about half way between the hill and the trees she saw him. A handsome man with curly brown hair, brown eyes and a confused look on his face appeared from nothing beside her. His spirit was clouded with anger and desperation. Was he going to save her? As soon as she looked into his eyes he vanished as quickly as he had appeared. She felt his soul leave, but it was unlike when a person dies. He left completely with no trace left at all, but in her heart she knew that he was still living. Maybe her mind was playing tricks on her. Surely so, for she was growing weaker and weaker with each passing day. Her bones ached from riding so much, and her feet were blistered and cold from no shoes. Her hair lay in a tangled mess about her neck, and the stench of her captor grew as well. Hopefully they would eat soon because she did not know how much more she could take on an empty stomach. She had gone hungry before, but this gnawing pain never went away. This is what starvation feels like for many in her village during the winter.
Ami thought about the man for a little longer, but the nagging pain in her wrists and the constant pull at her waist was drawing her attention from the man in the bushes, to how she was going to get away if she could. The black rider had sped up his horse since nightfall was not too far away, and with the speed came more of that strikingly cold wind that smacked her face. Ami wondered if he was going to set up camp or if they'd continue riding, and wished that she could just get off his horse not know how much more she could take. She slowly nodded off into a deep sleep that offered her a strange peace of mind. Her mind drifted back to the man, how he had looked at her.
She knew his face, but could not place just where she had seen him. Maybe she had met him in the market, but then why was she so interested in him. His eyes. Those eyes captured her heart and bore itself into her memory. Then her dream began to form itself around Ami. A castle was erecting itself around her. She was standing in a doorway to what looked like a library that was well lit with candles, but no fireplace or windows. She smelled some kind of incense that was usually burned at the chapel near her home. A table set with bread and cheeses, wine, and fruit that she had never seen before lay ahead of her, but she did not touch any of it even though her stomach begged her to. Senses telling her that she was not alone here had her lurking around. She did not want to be captured in her dream as well. Moving further into the darker part of the room she found an altar. By its base a man knelt in silent prayer, and Ami knew that this was no ordinary dream. The man who had watched her from the road was kneeling on the ground. Not wanting to startle the man she cleared her throat quietly. The man did not respond so she whispered "Sir?"
She began reaching out to touch his shoulder when she noticed the tears falling onto the floor. The man was crying fat tears that dripped down his young face, but he did not seem to know she was watching or did not care. Ami felt as if she was spying on him, but as she turned to go he reached out to take her hand. The touch sent a shock all the way up her arm and seemed to burn her skin. An immediate bruise rose to the surface of her pale skin in the shape of a gripping hand. Ami gasped as she woke in her body. She was lying down, but still tied up uncomfortably on the ground. The man who had captured her was staring with quizzical eyes that bore into her. It was if he could see everything about her with just a single look. His prying eyes bore into hers with such intensity. Ami thought she was going to be sick with all the tingling she was feeling throughout her entire body. Her necklace grew hot against her skin, leaving welts where it touched her soft skin. Ami felt as if she could not breathe with the necklace against her chest, the silver feeling extremely heavy. She tried to roll and pull her hands free, but the rope only pulled tighter. All the while the stranger sat and watched her.
Ami cried out as the moon shown down on her through a small opening in the canopy above her. What was going on? Her hands felt like they were on fire, her heart felt as if it was going to beat right out of her chest, and the ropes began to make her bleed as they dug in deeper. "Help, please help me!" She gasped as waves of pain washed over her entire body. Tears began streaming down her dirtied face, but still the man sat watching with a satisfied smile on his face. "Please..." she whimpered. She did not care that he had hurt her or that he was her captor. All she wanted was the searing pain to lessen or go away, but he still sat watching as if he knew what was going on. Why did he not help? "You'll get free, or you'll suffer until you pass out which I hope happens for your sake. I am excited to see which you choose to accomplish." Tannin’s voice was gruff and serious as it reached her, and his eyes gleamed in the dimming fire light. His tongue wet his lips in anticipation while he sat back to watch from a better view. His voice rang of superiority and his accent was like a snarl. "I might even get some pleasure out of watching you struggle."
Ami's heart sank at his words and the giant lump in her throat threatened to gag her. The tears she wanted to cry were so close to falling that she had to do everything she could just to hold them in. He could not know about her powers. Ami, knowing that he was not going to help, struggled harder in hopes that the pain and fear would be released when she was free of the ropes that strangled her body. Yelling and thrashing about, Ami strained on the edge of fainting. Sweat plastered her hair to her face while she panted for breath. The cloudiness in her mind was coming and going like the spots in her vision. Back arched, she felt as if someone was ripping her in two, like her skin was being stretched to its maximum. She cried out in agony as her skin ripped open and exposed her underneath. Her now red dress felt toot tight and made her gasp for breath, but the pain still raged on inside her. Ami could hear a scream and it took a minute to realize it was all her, and that did nothing to help her panicking state of mind. She wheezed as the pain began to reside after what seemed like hours of horrid torture. What was that? She asked herself. Her head felt like it was going to explode and what little was in her stomach had quickly come up in a fit of gags and heaving.
One of her hands had been freed, but was now bleeding badly and already bruised. Ami struggled to assess the damage the horrifying pain and struggling had done to her body and she found that her back felt wet and sticky. She knew that it was blood even in the moonlight. Lying on her side she glanced at the man who was now walking to her from the other side of the fire. Its flames were quickly diminishing and her fear of being in the dark with this man only caused her to start to panic even more. She cried out in fear as he neared. All she could hear was his boots crunching on the rough ground underneath them while all she could smell was her own blood being soaked up by the dirt. Ami was losing her consciousness quickly, and felt the man pick her up gently. She prayed that he would not violate her in any way like she had seen in his mind. Ami was much too weak to fight anything unless she could let her tears fall into the wounds she had acquired. She tried to sink into the blackness, but no peace came this time. Her captor sat her in front of him, facing away and brushed away her long hair. The man’s hot, wet tongue flicked at her wounds on her back while his hand gripped her chest to him. Whether this was for sexual pleasure or because he was holding her up was indistinguishable. His hot breath slithered across her revealed skin and sent a cold chill through her body. The bleeding was stopped at her wrists with crusty patches left, but she could tell that her back was greatly damaged by how much pain she was feeling with this man holding her close. He brought his knees up and propped Ami against them as he freed his hands. She gasped and then sucked in a deep breath of pain as he ripped her dress down the middle of her back. Ami sighed as a sudden pressure was released and the pain seemed far less great as it had been, but the cold dampness further chilled her. This would have been her moment to flee if only her body would work. Her arms and legs felt wobbly and weak. Her mind became clearer with every passing minute however.
Ami decided that he was healing her for now, but did not want to think of anything anymore. She just wanted the sweet darkness to consume her this time as a great weight pushed down from her shoulders. She was too weak to try and figure what was wrong, but something defiantly did not feel normal to her. She cried out as the man began massaging her back shoulders. She jerked away, but only caused more tearing in her skin and more pain that made her cry out again.
"Your wings have finally come in. I'm sure the queen will be quite pleased with this."
What did he say? Impossible. There was no way that she could have wings. People do not grow wings and surely do not grow them overnight. Ami tried pulling away from Tannin, who now pressed his lips to her neck, but her body was for too weak to even attempt. He could feel her small complaint, but made no move to stop. Her voice was weak and shaky next to his ear, “Please, don’t.” Tannin paused for a brief second as he weighed the consequences, his teeth rubbing slightly against her skin. His hot breath raked up her skin and was against her ear. He sighed and laid Amilynn onto a fur pelt which he had planned on sleeping on. It must have been where the man was reclining because of the warmth it now gave off, but Amilynn did not care as long as the pain was over for now.
His body moved away from her, but Ami passed out before she could figure anything out for herself. Her mind was in a dream-like state that would not allow her to focus or stay awake, and maybe for the better. She was not even sure if any of that was real or all just a horrid night terror. This is a dream and the vampire must be lying because humans do not have wings.
Over the next cycle of the moon, Ami and Tannin traveled together without further burst of pain from her back and wings. He had also started feeding Ami more, and treating her more like a person rather than an assignment, but his sexual ways still showed up about once a day. He had not yet acted on those wants, but Ami feared that it was just a matter of time before he would try.
Approaching some old church ruins just before sunset, Tannin was growing ever more impatient with their slow progress. The crumbling masonry, making homes for the birds, provided less shelter than a tent would have, but the sky was clear on this cool evening. Fragments of stone crumbled under Ami's canvas shows, and only continued to slow her down. The chains rattled as she stumbled along behind the cloaked man and his bickering. His angry pulling cut into her wrists with painful, stinging bites. The rough metal chains proved to be much harder to get out of than when he had her tied up with rope, but that, when she rode in front of this ruthless man, was not any better. Ami tried not to cry, but found that it was nearly impossible for her to do so now anyways. With the little water she had been able to drink she was lucky if she could whisper a word. She thought that that was probably part of her captor’s plan so that if they ran into anyone they would think she was a dirty slave, forbidden to speak.
Dragging Ami past what had once been an archway, the failing sun cast its last glows down over the broken and crumbling stones like headstones and grave markers. Ami could not help but to shiver against the breeze that began to increase. She had not been given very many clothes over this entire journey. She had to wear a thinning gown with hardly any back, for room for her wings, and the man's cloak to keep her warm. Whoever this queen was obviously did not care about how she was treated, or this man would surely be more humane. Tannin picked Ami up quickly, easily setting her onto the horse's saddle. She wondered where her own horse must be since the man had not taken her as well. In one fluid movement, pulling himself onto the horse, they began to ride swiftly off through the tall trees. Little underbrush grew here, and the ground was easy for the horse to travel by. Ami struggled to keep herself from moving around on the saddle with all the equipment and the man, but there was nothing she could hold on to. He wrapped one arm around her waist and surged forward.
"For everything I've been told about you, you are not what you appears to be, young one." The man's voice was gruff against Ami's ear and she flinched away from his voice. Stifling a whine Ami closed her eyes and took a couple deep breaths. Pulling her wings even more closely to her trembling body Ami began to pull herself from reality. Once inside her mind she would be free. She needed her tranquility.
"You know nothing." She managed to whisper as his hand flipped the reins. Ami did not know if he had heard, but he made no response if he had.
Ami could not seem to lose herself during the night, but felt her body grow heavy with exhaustion even though she knew that sleep would not find her. For the past week of traveling, Ami often wondered about where she was going and why she was being taken, but no answers were given.
Ami knew that she was different than her brothers and sisters with her fare skin and golden hair, and now the wings proved it, but the fire must have something to do with this torture. Her memory had been lost as did her past life, but Ami knew that this had to be because of who she was. The stone blockade that forced her mind out seemed impossible to infiltrate, but Ami kept telling herself that something would help her gain her memory back eventually. She often thought of a man's face, one that she had dreamt of repeatedly. His soft blue eyes and his sandy hair...
King Gregor had never seen his son so determined, and it made him think of a younger version of himself. "She will survive this."
"Here, now," Tristan's hands shook as he buttoned the white cloak around his broad shoulders. His voice seemed strong despite his body language. "I will find her. I will teleport her here tonight if I must, with me."
Tristan had tracked Ami well into the forbidden forest that lay east of the village that he had visited prior to her kidnapping. Who else wanted her gift? He thought to himself. The city of Oslolia was not more than a couple weeks travel away. Once there, Ami would be harder to track because of all the minds that are close together. He knew that Oslolia would also shelter her captor from his view as well. This man must have gifts as well to keep Amilynn from escaping, but he could not be sure. The thought of seeing Ami, tied to that creature, and it made him want to vomit with a deep depressing feeling in his gut. Someone else was after her, and could possibly get her before he does.
The candles had all been lit; smoke from cleansing incense filled the air will rolling shapes and shadows across the walls. The smoke took on human forms and danced around him while Tristan lay flat on his back on the stone alter. His hands and ankles where bound tightly, but he knew that it was a pain he would have to face if he was to keep himself from hurting anyone who would be around him. This process was dangerous for himself and Amilynn, but he was willing to take the risk now that he knew that others had found her. More and more would come until it was too late.
Sometimes the rituals could go array and the souls returning to the body could react violently, depending on each person. "You can't do this without a price." The sweet witch kissed his forehead, sending Tristan into a deep sleep. "Sleep, young prince, find your bride, but let the air guide you, the fire keep your heart strong, the water keep your mind clear, and let the earth to heal all wounds." Her voice was that of a singer, the lines she spoke seemed to make music of their own. The elements filled the altar with a white light that radiated off Tristan in the odd orchestra of magic.
Opening his eyes, Tristan sat up and squinted around himself in the bright sunlight. He was on a ridge. Down in front of him he saw a small farmhouse made of sod and grass reads. The fence leaning on each post for support; the animals all walking about the yard gave the scene more life to this place, but still sent chills down Tristan’s spine. He felt a light breeze urging him forward. The sun was high overhead; it was about mid-noon, and seemed to isolate the small house from its surroundings. Picking his way down the sloping hillside he made his way down to a path that had probably been made by an animal. It was faded and hard to keep track of, but he had to trust his intuition that this was right.
Off to his right, Tristan caught the smell of water. The clean and spiritual sent surrounded his body and mind. He felt the air pushing him on, urging him to continue on his journey, but his heart lingered and was unsure. A large and clear path led around a corner into the oncoming trees, and disappeared into deep shadows. The path was level with the new fallen leaves and twigs from all of the leaning trees. Their branches reaching out like fingers at his arrival gave Tristan a warning, but he continued on. Those trees' leaves were all turning into yellows, reds, and burnt orange colors as Tristan walked underneath them. He could see each individual leaf begin its transformation as if time was sped up. A wind sent the sound of metal chimes through the forest like the faint sound of bells and the tinkling of thousands of glass beads. He walked on as the leaves rained down on him. It was a downpour of foliage, twigs, and such that softly landed all around his shoulders but Tristan was not startled at all by this time. This autumn haven was peaceful and warm, but still gave of warnings.
Sunlight filtered in through the canopy of limbs and trees like firelight from above floorboards when in a cellar. The sound of water lapping at the earth came to his ears gently, a rhythm of this place. Tristan's senses were greatly enhanced in this place, but he still struggled to follow the fading path. The trail became much narrower as he neared a bend. Sloping downward, he followed falling leaves and grunting trees to a small lake where crystal blue water lapped at the shore. A tall, lone cedar tree stood tall, dead in place on the other side. The ground all around it was dusted in the orange needles from previous years while the sweet smell, still lingering, tickled his nose. Beyond that tree another path could be seen. This one was much less traveled and somewhat overgrown with underbrush, but his eagerness to find Amilynn was pushing him further into the forest. His feet, finding the way even though his mind did not, took him swiftly around the water’s edge. This path kept on its way, but Tristan felt a tugging at his soul. It was if someone was pulling at his clothes to tell him where to go.
Though there was no path here, Tristan began struggling his way through the thick underbrush that was filled with briers and weeds. Their sharp thorns were cutting and scraping his skin right through his clothes, and they left bleeding wounds across his arms and legs. The needle like tips left his skin crawling with an itch, but still he pushed on, getting closer and closer. A ridge on his left, a small stream on his right, and more briers were ahead. This was not going to be easy.
Tristan began climbing up the hill. His feet slid slightly in the soft earth while his hands clutched small trees for leverage. The briers were not as dense on this side of the ridge, but the ground was giving away under his feet. Taller trees weeded out the sunlight, but the ridge made round looping circles that dipped low and collected water which reflected some light. Silver minnows darted in and out of the light from those puddles, but the larger swoop led Tristan to the edge of another, larger lake. Its shore was smooth and gently rolled out into the clear water. Small stumps lay in the water, and a beaver dam could be seen directly in front of Tristan. On the other shore he saw deer dart back into the deep shadows that were cast by another, taller, ridge. The ripples of water blew across the lake as the wind began to pick up, and that wind carried the sweet, flower smell of his bride. Tristan knew he was close to her, but he could not see her anywhere just yet. Amilynn was near, he could feel it.
Again, Ami found herself awaking in the arms of a stranger. With a sudden burst of clarity the transformation replayed itself in her ever broadening mind. Her past, her present, and her future seemed to make so much more sense, and hearing Tristan's thoughts inside her own mind unnerved her. The man next to her, Tannin, still lay sleeping. She shivered with the feeling of his skin touching her, but there was nowhere to go. Amilynn would just have to wait for the man to wake up and force her to march on. She closed her eye and became suddenly very drowsy. The warmth made between her and the man was inviting, but she resisted the temptation.
Each and every person has three soul mates in a lifetime, some have more than one at a time, while others will come and go as reincarnates. These souls, who were originally designed for each other, somehow find their way back to their loves every single time. It was how the world was designed by the Gods and Goddesses. No person was to ever be alone, but having to search for a true soul mate proved to be a difficult task. Love can take many forms and for a few it is not the love of a couple, but a growing friendship of siblings or family connections.
Ami drifted into a deep sleep and awoke to leaves falling everywhere. The boy she often dreamt of lay next to her. He was staring intently into her eyes, but there was something different about this cream that began unraveling her fantasies about loving this boy. His eyes had grown dark since she had seen him last.
“Tristan, is that you?” She whispered as he sat up, leaning over her. Ami felt dizzy and weak here which was unusual. Generally her dreams were at her sanctuary, but not here. This place was draining her strength at an alarming rate. Her necklace felt heavy against her chest and burned her skin slightly. A warning.
Tristan could feel fear rising in Ami, her hands digging into his arms, her body shaking. He finished the words to transport, but Ami still did not seem to understand what was happening. Her eyes looked around wildly, and she appeared to Tristan like a wild animal put in a cage, but she would need to finish her end of the journey alone. He had to continue on to his body while she would be forced through the portal. Tristan kissed her forehead and whispered in her ear. “I have to let you go now.” And he did let go. He was dunked into a vast swirling sea where he struggled to gain control of his spirit. Once he relaxed him mind and felt for his body, it did not take long for him to return.
A hand, tangled roughly in Ami's thin hair pulled slightly causing her to wake. Her hands felt bare skin while her eyes tried to focus in the changing lights around her. Her captor must have woken up. Ami tried pulling away from whoever she was laying with, but one of their arms held her firmly around the waist. She began to panic as their body pressed her close.
Tristan snored quietly beside her, still lying on the altar, bounds broken. Am struggled away from Tristan, but finding herself without clothes, she immediately froze. Tristan had some clothes, pants that were cut off at the knee, but she was naked with just her necklace, and she was alone besides the sleeping man. Ami quickly lowered herself from the altar. Wrapping herself in her feathered wings helped to shield her body, but was not enough to cover her completely. Where was she?
Had someone brought her here? Had anyone seen her before she awoke or had Tristan planned on her coming here all along? This was not real, Tristan, the boy of her dreams, was never real, but this place felt too real. Ami did not know what had happened, and with uncertainty she backed into a dark corner of the room. The cold stone floor sent chills throughout her entire body. Taking a good look around Ami noticed that most of the candles had burnt out and left drips of wax down the silver holders. Few lights still flickered, but all were near their own extinction.
With no time reference Ami sat and waited, and waited. She felt weak and afraid, but there was no way out of this room. There was no visible door or archway to escape from, and she had nowhere to go if she were to leave. Amilynn did not want to wake the man, but she did not want to explore the room further than the light allowed her to see. Uncertainty clouded her mind as she pondered how she got here, why her clothes had been gone, and why she could not wake up. She wondered where she was most of all though. Ami, struggling more and more to see passed the quickly fading light, moved closer to the altar for fear of what awaited in the dark here. Soon after the last flicker went out Ami rested her head against the cold stone alter and closed her eyes. Her body aches and she shivered violently against the cold breeze. She had no way of knowing where that breeze came from, but it was her only hope of getting out of there. Closing her eyes she began imagining her sanctuary, but she could not quite reach the meditative level she needed. It was as if a stone wall prevented her mind from creating her place of peace.
Ami felt uneasy in this unfamiliar place, she wanted to run and be outside, but she knew that her mind was just weary. Ami stretched out her mind to brush against Tristan's. His mind had strong barrios blocking her invasion. This was not the same man in her dreams at all. Tristan reached out in search of Ami and sure enough, he touched her hair. The beautiful golden locks, so soft and light, fell through his fingers like strands of silk. She moved under his touch and he sat. An uneasy feeling rushed to his brain, causing him to feel dizzy for a few seconds. Everything was black and it took a couple of seconds for his eyes to adjust to the new level of darkness. All he could make out was the rough outline of Ami, and her pendant was glowing a deep red and gold.
He sighed and stood up. Feeling weak Tristan flicked his fingers while torches, that had not been lit prior to the meditation, flashed with fire and a burst of light. Whispering his thanks the fire left his fingers and burned brightly on the torches. The entire room was now alight with the warm and gold light. Ami stood in an instant, her bare nakedness catching Tristan off guard.
“What is this?” She demanded. Her voice was as sharp as a sword. She was furious and the heat from her anger radiated off of her and wrapped itself around Tristan. “I don't want this.”
“What do you mean?” Tristan sat up shakily and lowered himself off of the altar. His body needed sleep to heal his wounds, but it would have to wait. “I saved you; I told you that I was your protector once, long ago, and I plan on keeping my word.” He stepped closer to Amilynn. Her body was cast in shadows, covering her anatomy. She backed away from him, into the wall. “Please, you do not need to be afraid. I am here now, and everything will be alright…” His voice trailed off as Amilynn suddenly turned very pale. She swayed slightly and fell forward. Tristan surged forward to catch her fall, but she just pulled away and lay shivering on the stone floor.
“Don't touch me!” She whispered fiercely. Her necklace’s light was very dim compared to what it should have been, and this scared Tristan. “He will kill me.”
Tristan was confused by this statement; but then realized that something had gone horribly wrong. Ami was not her full self. Part of her soul and her body was still with her kidnapper. “Let me help you.” He gently lifted Ami and began carrying her, but her body was already fading from this world. Tears started to form in her emerald eyes, but there was nothing Tristan could do. “I’ll see you in your next dream.” He mumbled as she faded completely. He dropped his arms at his side, and fell to his knees. How could he have been so stupid? He was so close to getting her, but he did not hold on long enough. She would wake up as if this was just a nightmare, but he worried that he had just damaged the trust he had been trying to build through their dreams. He would have to try again, but she had drunk some of the potion before she had fully awakened, so maybe she was still his.
So far the potion had worked. Two armed guards, waiting outside the door, and seeing the two stepped aside. Their sashes were silver and red, the clan’s colors, and their armor gleamed in the fire light. The guards seemed taken aback by Amilynn, but Tristan expected that much, and expected it from everyone now. Not only was her pure vampire self extremely exotic and beautiful, but her scent washed over everyone near better than any other women Tristan had ever come in contact with. He longed to taste her blood with a burning hunger that he had never felt for any other creature, but Tristan would not be able to yet. He was going to have to protect Amilynn because of her vulnerabilities. Not only was she ignorant of her people and her kind, but Amilynn was also unable to harness her powers on her own.
The pair walked side by side, escorted by four guards, down a well-lit hall, and then down stone steps that were carved straight from the natural stone. A faint musty smell lingered and mingled with the smell of old books and dust, but that was soon replaced as another door opened up to reveal a wide open room with a domed ceiling. Magnificent paintings covered the walls and ceiling with figures. The paintings told the stories of the Gods and Goddesses. Fragments of glass and gems adorned the walls to give a mystical and bright sheen on everything in the room along with many other decorative pieces, and great windows that were larger than the doorway allowed great amounts of sunlight to penetrate the air around the six.
Music, a soft stringed instrumental sound, traveled up to their ears from below, but this tower was stationed from the temple so music would always be heard in this place of great power and learning. Here, statues of the great Gods and Goddesses were erected from the altars and looked down at those who passed. Gentle looks of encouraging love to harder glares of anger were shown across their stone faces with the body language to match each emotion. Each statue was as realistic as any other person who may have been standing in the room, with their carefully crafted robes and gowns and painted features. Tristan looked up into those faces and gave his thanks to each and every statue, making sure to be personal with the particular god or goddess. Horen especially, he was giving Tristan the strength and guidance to reclaim his bride.
Ami sat, her back straight, ankles crossed, and waited on the warm wooden bench. Many soft pillows surrounded her slim body, adding extra comfort. The burgundy of the pillows greatly contrasted the light colored wood and made a very beautiful seat by the orchard. Sweet smells of fruit Ami could not name swept through the air on the ever present breeze that ruffled her layered dress. The layers moved around her like rose petals, a soft pink with hints of red. Her golden hair had been braided earlier but now had a few stray strands that she aimlessly tried to tuck behind her ear. Today was one of the past few that she was not constantly herded around the castle and its grounds, off doing chores and training. Guards constantly followed her, giving every moment a sense of openness that Ami was not use to. She could not go off on her own here, not even in her own bedchambers. Ami asked the guards if they could be slightly farther off, and they willing obeyed, but she could still see the shinning metal of one guard’s breastplate behind a large bush full of berries.
Ami signed and allowed her tired mind to relax, letting her wings rest against the soft and luxurious pillows around her. The sun shining down on her skin, illuminating her and giving her warmth created a sense of calm. Birds sang off in the distance, a song bird of some sort that changed its melody often. Ami smiled at the pleasantness of this garden and took in a deep breath, filling her lungs with the fresh air that surrounded her.
Ami was just nodding off to sleep when she heard laughter. It was children's laughter that had a sing song sound to it. Quietly Ami edged off the bench and noticed that her guards two were enjoying the sun. They too must have felt the damp cold of the passed rain, for their eyes were closed and leaning against a tree the two slept. Snores could be heard from both so Ami crept on to the stone wall where the laughter came from. Being small and short, Ami could not see over the wall so she spread her wings and jumped. The down thrust of her wings gave her a small lift that allowed her to grab on to the lip of the brinks. She pulled herself up and sat, letting her feet dangle over the side. Two children played, a running sport with fire from their hands. In the past week Ami had seen no children around the castle and she could not keep herself from staring. There was a boy, tall and slim. His features where those of a fox, for he appeared to be sly and mysterious. His dark hair fell into his face, shielding his eyes from her view. The girl was tall as well, but well-muscled, and her hair was red and orange like fire. Ami could tell that she was human by the look of her, but a very beautiful human. A long red scar ran down the length of her arm, marking her as a slave which suddenly saddened Ami. She had seen slaves and knew they were all marked, but this scar just seemed unsightly on a child. Ami wondered to herself if maybe they freed her, if Tristan and his family freed all of their slaves, but she could not be sure.
Tristan stood back, watching Ami curiously as she struggled to watch something over the wall. He was slightly angry that his guards had fallen asleep on the job, but Ami hadn't gone far. She sat on the courtyard wall, her wings nestled around her. She was such a beautiful creature, just like her mother, Tristan thought. He wondered if Ami knew or understood just how amazing she was. He was sure that she knew her kind was rare, but he also wondered if he knew what would be expected of her.
Tristan searched with his mind, sending out his love to her, but her mind was closed. With a simple brush against the barrier Ami turned around, her smile as radiant as the sun itself. "Where have you been? I've been waiting for an hour." Ami just smiled. Tristan came closer and held his arm up to catch Ami as she gracefully climbed down from the ledge. "What were you doing up there?"
"I could hear laughter and went to see who was having such fun on a day like this. There are children. I haven't seen any children since I came here until now. Who are they?" Ami's eyes probed into Tristan's and she took his hand.
Tristan sighed and began guiding Ami back to the stone gateway out of the garden. Passing flowers and bushed of sweet berries, "Female Vampires cannot have children of their own. Humans are used sometimes with male vampires, but most cannot survive the pregnancy, thus losing the child and their own lives." He reached down and picked a white flower, its long petals were tipped with pink. He placed the flower in Ami's hair just above her ear. "When the angels and fallen angels, gods, and goddesses were first creating this place the gods took away fertility from the fallen angels. They were not worthy of having children of their own because they would breed for power and not for love. Angels who came down to live on the land had wings, but could not stand being away from their gods and goddesses so they rejoined with them.
It was their job to protect them; however, one angel remained. Her name was Amandreana. She fell in love with one of the dark angels, and because she was not punished she could have children. She was marked with five dragon tattoos for her devotion to her love... Each tattoo represented the elements. Earth, water, fire, air, and spirit because she had all five traits and used them to better her people. The gods in turn allowed her to become a vampire goddess, to grant her people with life and gifts. You, Ami, are her descendant..."
“You are saying that I am the way for other vampires to have children?" Her brows furrowed with deep thought, "I'm not ready for that kind of thing, Tristan. I really am not." She stopped. Looking into Tristan's eyes she knew that she was the key to children. That was why she was brought here by her parents. She was a gift to Gregor and his people because Gregor protected them from a great onslaught from wolverines. They must have known. Ami was hurt, but she could not get passed the thoughts of becoming a mother.
"Is that all you got out of your history lesson?” he said with a smile. “Listen to me, Ami; no one is going to force you into anything, and nothing like that is expected of you." He pulled Ami closer to him. "I love you and I just want you to be happy. If you want children, well, that is up to you. All I know is that you mean the world to me and I love you like no other and always have. You being special have nothing to do with the feelings I have for you." Tristan kissed her forehead, but her mind block was up and reinforced. Tristan could not blame her. She has been through more than a lot will ever experience, and needs her space. He did love her, and respected her for the most part, but he and his people did expect much more than Amilynn was ready to give. Tristan was happy with the love and connection that they already share, but his mother and father already expect marriage and children in the near future. It was what was anticipated of him as well.
His clan of vampires got smaller with every passing reaping, and this year would not be any different. "I love you, Amilynn.”
"Why tell me now?" Ami asked. Her anger was suddenly flaring. "I can still read your thoughts, Tristan. Why hasn't anyone said anything to me about this sooner? I was thinking that I may finally be able to relax and to quit worrying about being kidnapped or worse." She pulled her hand from Tristan's. "If I am here just to make your clan more powerful than just tell me..."
Tristan struggled for the words to say and with her rising voice her guards snapped into attention. He waited a few seconds too long because Ami stormed off in the direction of the castle. "Wait!" He took off after her as her guards did. "I command you to halt." He knew the moment those words flew off his tongue that it was a mistake.
Ami whirled around, anger clearly spread across her face. "You what?!" Ami was breathing hard and he could see her necklace pulsing powerfully with a fiery red. "You cannot command me to do anything, Tristan, and if you think you can we have more issues than just keeping things from one another." She made her voice strong and scarily calm as she spoke the last few words. She began running, but Tristan stood in place. Stunned by her words Tristan did not know how to respond. His first impression was to become angry and furious. This was his home and he was the prince while she was his guest, but then he sighed and went on into the side courtyard. It must be the potion. It must be wearing off as he picked a white and silver feather from the ground.
Tannin leaned over Ami, her face flushed from a fever, and her body shivering. Tannin was unsure of what was causing this, for vampires are not prone to getting ill like humans. He placed a damp cloth on her forehead and covered her with another blanket. This was no good at all. Ami had been sleeping for three days straight, and he was unable to wake her up. Her mind was open to him, but she just lay dreaming. There was nothing to find. He had found a small and falling apart cabin that he assumed was abandoned and had sought shelter there for Amilynn’s sake. He could not keep traveling with her like this.
One never knows when they will get sick, but Tannin had wished that Lynn would have spoken up before she fell so ill. Tannin dabbed at the beads of sweat on Amilynn’s brow with a free hand. A cup of water was held by the other.
“Please wake up, Princess.” He knew it was useless, but the silence was making him wearier. “What is it that is keeping you there?” He asked the question more to himself than to Lynn. His horse had wondered off, eating grass and enjoying a break from all the hard traveling. Tannin sat back and looked out the dirty window. He could barely see the setting sun off in the distance. He needed to bring the horse closer just in case wolves were on the prowl. Giving Lynn one more glance he got up and went out in search of his horse.
In his family, Tannin had nine brothers. They each had raised sheep, goats, and horses, but had really climbed up the latter when they took their turns serving Queen Morgan. She was a hard ruler, but tried to do what would keep her family line going. Tannin won her heart without meaning to, but it really made his family jump in the social status line. He would not complain at all. He knew that his brothers and their families were being taken care of. He had never settled down like they did, but he did have the queen. She had sent him on many errands. Sometimes it was assassination or murder and other times she would just want him to go and fetch her something in a form of a gift. Their relationship was open with both having many lovers, but they always called on each other. He wondered why the queen had chosen him, but openly took her offer. Now she had wanted Amilynn, she wanted her power, and her blood so that she could breed Amilynn and her bloodline would continue. There was going to be a ritual between the queen, Amilynn, and himself. He would be bonded to the queen and share her blood so that when Ami carried his children, the queen’s bloodline could continue.
Tannin scanned the landscape around him; long sloping hills that were covered in tall green grass lay out before him. A hawk circled above, but then he saw three buzzards circling. That could mean only one thing. Death. Moving faster Tannin hurried forward, searching for his horse while he continued. Upon and opening he saw a lone wolf tearing at the flesh of his horse. The horse was shredded and gutted out before him in a gruesome sight. That damned wolf was feasting on his only transportation. He pulled and arrow from the quiver on his back and silently pulled his bow from around his shoulders. He took his aim on the wolf, but could not take the shot. The anger inside him boiled up and left the taste of bile in the back of his throat. “You dirty Bastard!” He yelled and ran at the wolf, dropping bow and arrow. The wolf looked up and took off running in the opposite direction. It’s black coat disappearing in the oncoming darkness.
The walk back to the cabin was a lonely one for Tannin. He had raised that horse from a colt, and now he was gone. That was life, but it still hurt Tannin to know that he could have prevented the death. He had other things to worry about at the moment however. Tannin slammed the door open, slumped against the wall, and dropped all the gear and baggage that he had taken off the horse. Ami still lay on the makeshift bed, turning every once and a while.
Kneeling down Tannin felt her head. She felt just as hot as before, but she had stopped shivering. Her skin was pale and clammy compared to the dark blankets, but there was nothing Tannin would really do until she woke up. He wondered about how her body was functioning without her being awake, but then busied himself with making some herbal tea. He needed to be able to stay awake and tend to Lynn so that she would not get worse through the night.
She made a sudden moaning sound and turned on her side. Her wings crumpled beneath her body, matted and dirty. He turned and looked at her. Her eyes were open and she lay with a grimace on her face. She did not ask for help, but struggled to get out from underneath the blankets. Tannin was at her side in a couple of steps. He helped her to sit up and held the cup so she could drink.
Ami closed her eyes and drank heavily from the cup. Water cooled her burning throat, but then wanted to come back up. “I am going to be ill”… She murmured and about fainted. Tannin leaned her forward, grabbing a nearby bucket. Ami wretched for a few minutes but nothing came up but the water she had struggled to get down earlier. She slumped back onto the soft fur covers and waited for her head to stop pounding. “Please try and drink more when you can.” Tannin’s voice was deep and throaty.
“Do not let me sleep!” Ami gasped. She snuggled under the covers more and began shivering all over again. Tannin felt chilled as well, but had nothing left to keep him warm besides the clothes he wore. “If I sleep, he will take me.” She shook her head and coughed.
At first Tannin thought that she was delirious, but then she reached out and touched his hand. Tannin felt himself leaving his body and following Amilynn into a vision.
She was tied to a large bed, nothing but a thin blanket covered her. She cried out for help, but no one in the room moved. There was several vampires there, standing, watching as she struggled. The blood that began forming at her wrists and ankles cause some to lick their lips. Tristan, the prince Tannin hoped to never meet, walked to the bed, nothing but a cloak on. He told everyone to leave, and the responded to his demand. Tannin could not move or speak, but was forced to stand in place while everything moved around him. Tristan climbed on top of Amilynn’s thrashing body. His fangs protruded from his lips and made him look even more sinister. “Relax, my wife, it will hurt for just a moment”. His voice crawled across Tannin’s skin like am insect. It gave him chills that he could not brush away.
Tristan bit into Amilynn’s exposed neck. He moaned and dug his fangs in deeper into the struggling girl. She cried out and pleaded with him to stop, but he did not seem to hear her. “Stop! You’re hurting me. Please, stop…” She began crying as he reached under the blanket, but that was when Tannin was thrust back into his own body.
“Do not let me sleep.” Amilynn whispered as she pulled Tannin’s arm to her. She rested her forehead against his muscles and cried and whimpered as the fever ripped through her body.
Throughout the night Tannin had helped Ami stay awake, and held the bucket for her as she threw up a foul smelling liquid, the poison. It was some sort of potion that Tannin now knew she had drunk when with Tristan. This was what was weakening her body. By doing so, Tristan would make it easier to force Amilynn to transport. Tannin would not let that bastard take her from him again. Tannin felt a strange connection forming between him and the young girl, but nothing would change. She would still be delivered to the queen, and would still eventually be his. She had to know that no matter who took her, she would be used against her will.
“Ouch! Damn…” Tannin cut his finger while sharpening his sword. Ami, who sat next to him, sniffed the air. She was disgusted by her reaction, and immediately stood up, stepping a couple feet away for good measure. The chain around her waist only let her go so far. Her hands began to shake as she cried out. A burst of pain caused her to grip her mouth tighter. Her teeth ached with a new pain that pounded in her skull, but in a matter of seconds receded into nothing. The only proof that anything had happened was the four slightly longer incisors that cut her lip. They had been coming in for the past two days, and had caused her a great amount of pain.
“Is that not a surprise?” he chuckled and pulled the chain so she would move closer to him. Grabbing her shoulder her brought her to his eye level and pried her hands from her mouth. Ami pushed back, but it was no use, Tannin was much too strong for her to bother. “Your fangs have come in, but you have two rows… interesting.” She tried to bit him, but only ended up biting down on nothing. He had learned his lesson the last time he had looked for fangs. “You are going to need blood tonight...” He picked up his sword and began sharpening it again, a smile on his face. Talking like they were having a simple conversation, Tannin spoke nonchalantly about feeding and quenching the bloodlust that all vampires feel. All vampires have to have at least a drop of blood on a full moon night.
“I need nothing.” Amilynn grumbled and turned her back to him. What she did not realize was that Tannin would need blood as well.
“You say that now, but you will need it, and you will find it. Your instincts will take over your body, and you will have no choice in the matter.” He chuckled and thought of what she’d be like in her animal form. The thoughts got his blood going, but he quickly changed the path his thoughts were going. He was going to have to have complete control that night, and his thoughts were not going to help the situation. “We cannot help but give into out more natural side. It was how we were all created.”
Ami sipped on her tea and sat next to Tannin in the dimming light. Even since the night she had shared her vision, things had changed between them. He was no longer as harsh, but seemed to act more out of duty than want. She understood that he had kidnapped her from her home and was treating her like a prisoner, but now it was not as bad. It was if he had a change of heart. They were traveling on foot, and took many breaks so Ami could recover from the potion. Tannin treated her more like a person, like a friend, and it made the journey a little easier, but further complicated things. She had fed off his blood that night. She had snuggled up to his arm and licked at a cut on his finger for hours while she stayed awake. The taste lingering on her lips for hours afterwards. His blood helped her to heal faster, and allowed him to keep Tristan from entering her mind at the same time. Ami found that drinking blood was not as bad as what she first thought, but she still worried about whether or not she was going to turn into a monster. Tannin had showed great control, but she worried about what was going to happen when the harvest moon comes up. Ami closed her eyes and sent up a silent prayer to Amandreanna for control and protection. She was still unsure about what she believed in, but she knew that Amandreanna was real, and did in fact create her. She had visited the goddess in her sanctuary many times over the past couple days, but was still unsure as to why all of these terrible things were happening to her. Amandreanna could not speak verbally, but showed her things through visions, similar to how Ami could show other people things though touch.
Tannin put his sword away and turned towards Amilynn. She refused to look at him, and pulled away from his touch. The chains rattled around her waist and she hated it with a passion. The awful clacking sounds hurt her ears with every movement. She would run if she could, but as of then, Ami was stuck. The silver in the chain made it nearly impossible to use any gifts against it, and she was not strong enough to break it. Tannin had laughed at her puny strength when she had tried the first time, and now it just seemed useless to waste her energy fighting.
Gregory lay alone in the sweet grass. His chest heaved with labored breaths, but he wore a smile on his fanged mouth. Blood covered his bare chest, up his neck, and dripped fresh from his mouth. This was going to be much easier now that that wretched Tannin had no horse. He could smell the two inside the cabin. He could easily have attacked Tannin, but that did not mean he would win that battle, and taking wounds right now would not be in his best interest if he was to save Amilynn. Gregory needed his strength to keep after Tannin and Amilynn. He had kept his distance, but with all that was going on, he knew that he needed to get Ami away from the vampires. He was supposed to be her protector. If his father had not needed him he could have protected Ami, but he could not go against the alpha male. That would be certain death for him, and would ultimately kill Ami. Whether or not Ami knew that they were soul mates could not be determined yet. His father had forbid him from intervening or showing himself in his human-like form. His wolverine soul would also be protecting the humans from the vampires, but here he failed. Amilynn, his true love, had gone from underneath him.
His black hair stood on edge as he heard Ami scream. Her call echoed down the valley and was startling. Gregory tossed his head back and howled with her agonized cry. There was not a single thing he could do while she writhed in pain. She was very ill, and he could feel her body growing weaker as she fought for her soul. Her soul had been split up earlier that day, and the process of putting it back together was one that most did not recover from. However, Amandreanna had told him not to worry. Her visions showed him that she needed to recover with the vampire’s blood so that not only her body would heal faster, but so her should and mind would remain intact. That wretched smell lingered in the air. He knew she needed it, but other vampires would always stink with a rotting smell to his wolverine nose. He needed blood as well, but his blood came from animals, not living humans. That was what made him better than the vampires. While they were killers, he was a savior.
He was not going to be getting any sleep tonight so Gregory morphed back into his wolf form and crept closer to the cabin. The moon provided his light, but the inside of the cabin was clouded and thick with magic. Amilynn needed him. He howled again, backed away from the cabin and waiting in the darkness. Ami reached out to him with her mind for a brief second and they shared a moment of calm, but as the pain ripped through their bodies she was pulled back to herself. The smell, again, emerged from cracks in the walls of the decaying cabin. His blood. She was licking at his blood, and she liked it. Gregory shivered, and paced around the cabin. She grew stronger as she drank, but her body was still recovering. Hopefully, Tannin knew what he was doing, and would allow her to regain what little strength she had left. Gregory could not loose Ami again, not. He could not sit still and could not relax with Tannin’s scent everywhere. Ami’s sweet scent lingered on top, but was much fainter. He wondered if she could still sense him, so he pushed with his mind and encountered Tristan. That prince was invading her mind and trying to persuade her to come to him, but she struggled against his strength. It seems like he was being stretched in multiple directions with nothing holding him in place. This was not right. Since when could a vampire take over her mind? Ami was all-powerful, she was to become queen, and Amandreanna, herself, had created her. Breath. Gregory had to focus on his breathing or he was going to create too much energy. His cross shaped birthmark burned against his skin and was his sign that he needed to relax or he would become angry. Wolverines, wolf shape shifters, could create a great amount of excess energy with their anger, but it clouded their minds. The raw energy could be devastating and fatal if not properly handled or channeled through the body.
Gregory forced back against Tristan, the dirty bastard. He was quickly draining that pent up energy, and hoped that it would make the difference for Amilynn. Goddess, she needs you now… He mumbled under his breath as he began sinking into the darkness around him. His father called, deep and angry, but he had to resist. Gregory winced as the urge to run to his father quickly came upon him. He could hear his brothers and sisters calling. All were calling. There were so many voices in his mind, all at once, and it was almost too much. Ami was going to come first this time. He struggled with himself, but managed to push against everything around him with his mind. He forced back Tristan, his family, the smell of death, and of blood.