A/N: Just for you Fiore Chnudth. This is my favorite chapter I have ever written. If you have read the first round of this, I made a technical mistake, but it is now corrected.
Chapter 19: Alestair's Initiation
England 1870 Day 2
The young farmhand that I have just captured struggled under my clawed hands. The hunt was good tonight. I usually can make a face to face confrontation and then attack and feed with no problem, but this method was quite entertaining. I hid myself in the shadows and stalked him unseen for a good quarter of an hour. I made sure I rustled some of the grass or snapped twigs to build his anxiety. I allowed silence to fall in the time between. When he chalked up my diversions to his imagination or some vermin in the field, I attacked him. The fear is strong in his soul, and it will make the taking of his blood all the sweeter. I haven't even added any encouraging remarks to enrich his fear further. I pull back and smirk to myself. It will be a good long time before he goes gallivanting around with the pretty young milk maids again after dark.
I have wrestled with many a victim in my existence. I am stronger than I look to the human eyes. This situation is really nothing to me or any other well seasoned vampire. Alestair is not a well seasoned vampire, but my show was good. Alestair shies away from me and my activities. I smell his fear as well as my own victim's. I cock my head and blink my eyes. What is he so afraid of? He has already been bitten by a vampire. It doesn't get much worse for him. We are the hunters this time, and he is not on the menu tonight. Looking at my companion's back ( . . . my companion . . . what a wondrous word. I have always hunted alone. It is still like some kind of dream daze to have him with me. I digress . . .) I notice for the first time what a disheveled mess his hair and clothes are in. I swallow down my misgivings. I must teach him to hunt and feed himself.
This is our second night back among the living. Somehow the weather seems to be more temperate and warmer, and the air is cleaner and smells sweeter. Of course, I have never been to England before. Yesterday, our first night back was a rather messy difficult day. Alestair let out all his frustration on me. As much as I would like to defend myself, I know I deserved the abuse he gave me. I chose him for my partner because he was a kind and gentle man, and I can excuse his violence to the fact that he knows that such injuries will heal quickly on me. Fortunately for me, when a vampire returns from the dead, the blood is very thin, and he doesn't feel pain as well as he should. The livelier the blood, the livelier we are.
Although I slept yesterday in a beat up state, it was worth it. I have never had the chance to wake up with someone there nor have I ever had anyone to show off my skills to. I sought out a place for us to rest away from the daylight. I had tried to explain all of the quirks of our existence to my student. I could not say he was an eager student, but he does listen. Never mind he calls me many and various interesting things in German. I must admit, out of all the languages that I know, German is the best language to come up with nice descriptive foul sounding things to call someone.
I led the search for our shelter yesterday. He complained briefly about the need. Things still seem unreal to him also. I wonder if it is the same for all new vampires. Having superior skills and being in a place where shelter was available, I was able to locate a cave for us to rest in away from the sun's deadly light. My companion did asked the obvious question about sleeping in native soil. I was so proud of him, and here I thought he knew nothing about vampires. I had to stop and turn on him. I blinked at him for a few moments, then the answer came to me. Vampires are most comfortable in the soil that they were buried in. True vampiric slumber comes to us in this way. There is no waking a vampire from such a slumber short of a wooden stake to the heart. Still the slumber enhances our strength and our powers many fold. That is why we bother. Pah! I am strong enough to handle what is coming. We can rest in any place as long as there is some kind of soil to our backs. Although vampires are the undead, we do need some sort of rest. A vampire body has many functions. Blood needs to assimilate into our own blood and bodies. I have many magicks I can use that messes with the minds of others. My mind needs rest from such strains as well.
I guess the non-vampiric slumber was alright. Alestair woke from his rest several times during the day. I guess I am not the best of company to have when he is having a bad dream, then he wakes to see me hovering over him. After several signs fo fear crossed his features, I received several more marks on my face and body. Still, I am none the worse for the violence visited upon me during the day. He will get better in time. I must be patient with him. I have thrown him into a worse situation than I had really intended. I certainly did not mean for such things to happen to Lucy. I need to remind myself of my good fortune. Warmth washes over my body and I smile. It was enough to see him curled up on the ground near me. I knew I would not have to hunt on my own this time.
The first time I came back from Limbo, I was unsure what to do. I was sealed in a tomb along with my ancestors and the rest of my family. I had out lived all of them. Well, my brothers and father had my helping hand to get them there. I found out quickly that I was able to go through walls. I was a different person then, and I just calculated that as a new weapon to my arsenal. I had no care for anyone on the outside. I took my first victim as vengeance for being locked up in that tomb. I think my victim didn't even know who I was. My second return from Limbo, I was fill with vengeance, and I not only drained my first victim then, but I destroyed his body as well. This time will be very different. This is the first time I have not returned because of fear or vengeance.
My victim struggles more and tries to escape. I pull tighter on his head and he whimpers. If I were alone, I would have already fed on him and perhaps have left a corpse behind. I need not kill my victims. I just do. Alestair clenches his fists, and my grin falls. What am I to say to make this situation better for him? I must find something to say to him to make this easier for him.
"Is he mine or yours?" I ask chipperly. A shiver runs down his gaunt body. He makes no replay. Silence. Perhaps the other approach is more appropriate. "Now, listen, Alestair. We have to survive this way. In order to survive, we must feed off the blood of the living."
"Why must we continue? Fate decided our deaths. Why do we argue with fate?" answers Alestair quietly. Well, he did reply.
"Fate gave us a second chance too, my friend. We must help Lucy. To survive to do so, we must drink blood," I reply flatly. "Watch and learn, my friend. I can be quite artful at this," I add as I flex my occupied arms.
He is an amazing fellow. We are incredibly pale to start with and he was able to become even more pale at my suggestion. He shakes his head nervously and closes his eyes. He mumbles something that I cannot understand, and I probably don't really want to know.
"Now, listen, my friend, it is the way of life! Something must die for something else to live. When you were human, you fed off of animals. Do not tell me that you were a vegetarian. I know better. Besides, plants have a life, too," I argue. He clenches his hands and scrunches his face. I do not understand, but I must find an argument suitable enough for him to listen. "Do not condemn this existence because of how we feed. He will not be harmed nor will he be one of us through just one bite. Come, what is wrong with this survival?" Besides, blood is a fine delicacy.
The answer to my own question as to why the taking of the blood is evil has always eluded me. True, Lucy is suffering from what I have done, and Alestair got the whole works. He would not have fallen to any harm if I had left it at the one bite. Instead, he would have found a way to kill me. Anyway, I see the drinking of the blood as one of my lesser evils. It does appear quite small to all the killing and the spreading of the Black Death I have done.
"He is my own kind! It is not right! It is cannibalism!" he cries out.
You know, I have never thought of this feeding as cannibalism. Leave it to him to explain it all! I smile at his reply, and I even have an answer for him!
"Alestair, my dear boy, you are no longer human. Your teeth are a bit too long and sharp for that now. You are a vampire, and you will be a vampire for the rest of your existence. There is no way out. So, enjoy yourself while you can!"
He clenches his fists tighter and swallows hard. "I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't."
I manage a shrug with my captive still in hand. "So am I. It isn't that big of a deal once you get used to it, my friend."
"What have I done?" he demands, "You are the one who did all the evils! You deserve this damnation!"
That hurt! I know that his damnation is different than mine, but it still hurts. "Quit judging me and accept my help. That's what I am here for."
Finally, he turns to me fully and cries out, "I don't want your help!" My captive, upon seeing my companion's pale angry face in the pale full moonlight, renews his struggles under my grasp. All the anger Alestair has towards me falls away. "Let him go," he pleads.
"No!" I object, "I need to feed. You must learn even if you don't want to. I will allow you this one. Take him."
"No!" he rejects loudly and violently. There is a muffled terrified cry from my companion. Yes, my boy. I am not the only frightening thing out here.
"Damn it, Jon!" I return. How easy this all would be for me if I just take over his mind and force him to do this. I sigh. I was always the one to take the hard way around everything. Not to mention, when I was granted this chance to return with him, I vowed to stay out of his mind. "Do as I say! I am only taking this much pain with your fanatical objections and your stupid arrogance because I hate what I have caused to happen to your wife. If you feel anything for her, you will learn to do this."
Alestair glares at me with all the hate that he can muster. I stand my ground. I have seen worse hatred. Slowly he lowers those deep brown eyes of his. "What must I do?" he relents almost inaudible.
I have never taught a vampire this action. I kind of thought that it came naturally. What do I know? Alestair is the first person that I have made a vampire . . . well, a vampire that I intended to keep around and alive for any length of time. Personally, no one taught me how to be a vampire. Trial and error was always my method, and it still is. I draw in a deep breath and give him his answer.
"Make the ruffian look into your eyes."
"How?" he objects, but the yield is still there.
"Well, physically would help since my hands are occupied and I seem unable to make him look up."
Alestair pauses for a moment, then he forces himself forward to my captive who, being the bright boy that he is, could figure out what we are planning to do, although I sense he does not understand our language. Well, maybe he cannot figure it out, but he knows it is not good. Still, he acts properly for the situation and bites deeply into the flesh of my hand at his mouth. Now, contrary to popular thought (present company included), I do feel pain, but because of the lack of fresh blood in my body, it is a pain that I can well and easily ignore. Alestair swallows hard. He moves his hand to touch the boy's face, but he pulls away suddenly. He looks at me questioningly and opens his mouth to speak, but he has no voice. He looks away, then he turns back to the boy. He shakes his head, then moves his hand hesitantly back to the boy's face. He pauses, square his shoulders, then he grabs the boy by the hair and forces him to face him. The contact of their eyes makes the boy slacken his resistence. I gratefully let go and shake my wounded hand. Does he know that he is not the one who is suppose to be doing the biting here?
So, now my companion has achieved step 1. Now is the time to move to step 2. "Make him expose his neck."
Alestair sways in indecision. He swallows again, and the determination fails him. "I can't!' he cries out, losing all control he had over the boy. He turns his head away. I grab the boy and tackle him before he can fully flee.
A low growl rumbles my throat. "One more trick like that, and I'll feed and leave you!" I retort. Is all of this worth having an underling . . . a companion. "Take hold of him again. Please, for my sake."
"I don't give a damn about you!" he bursts out, "I care about this young boy a hell of a lot more than I do you!"
I look down. "I know," I answer quietly, "I am sorry. The mind wanders. Please, my friend, do this, if for no other reason then do it for Lucy's sake," I say in hopes of smoothing over my earlier mistake, "Just bite him and get it over with. I am certain that this young man would like some sleep."
Alestair shakes his head. He places his hands on either side of the boy's face. He gently but firmly forces the boy to look up at him. He orders the boy to unclasp his collar. A fine gold colored chain with a cross as a pendant hangs around the boy's neck. Alestair hesitates and looks to me for help. If the situation was not so grave, I would have smiled at the question.
"Force him to remove it," I respond.
"How?" he argues, "It is a weapon against vampires."
"On the first bite you can make him drop his guard. It is the second time that we have no mind control over the victim. God despises us, but He does not make it impossible for us to survive. Nor does He leave His children defenseless against us."
"But . . ."
Alestair trembles, if not as more frightened, then as frightened as his victim. I touch his arm. I remember well my fear of the cross. The fear was quickly and nervously chased away when a certain vampire waited twenty days between victims! "Have confidence, my friend."
He squints his eyes and draws in his lips. He allows a heavy sigh to escape him. He, with trembling lips, orders the boy to remove the cross. The young fellow, having no choice but to obey, unclasps the pendant. Allowing it to fall to the grass, he offers his neck up. The fear is long gone from the boy's body. The knowledge of his surroundings is totally gone.
Alestair shuts his eyes tight and tries to pull away. "No!"
I insist. Taking his arm firmly into my hand, I say, "You must!" His eyes open a crack, as I put my fingers to the prone boy's neck. "The jugular, as I believe you call it, my friend. Bite him there."
I bit the wrong one the first time. I could not control the blood flow and it splatter all over me. What a waste of good blood, and it certainly did nothing for my attire. I got better. I allow the boy's arms to fall as I back away to allow my student to get on with it. Alestair does not move. I allow this to continue for a few moments. He stares at the boy and opens his mouth to complain. The hunger for the blood must be gnawing at him. How can he refuse for so long? It is taking much of my will power to keep from biting our victim myself.
Yet, his pleas cut me. God knows that I do want to tell him that he does not have to do this, but his life force needs to stay attached to his body. This is what I want. I take in a deep breath and push Alestair to the boy, who has not have awakened from the spell, thank goodness and everything else out there. I enforce the spell with my own power. I move my hand through his stiffened matted brown hair. "It will be alright, my friend." He still does not move. I gently push him forward into the boy. His face muzzles the boy's neck.
I pray very rarely, but I utter a plea to God. Rarer than my production of prayer is an actual reply. Alestair is taken over by his nature. He closes his eyes and trembles. He takes the boy's shoulders. His mouth opens to reveal those long rat like fangs that my bite gave him in 1825. He tries to pull away, but I hold him firmly to the task. I may not be quite as strong as him, but my long years of vampirism gives me strength and determination to see this job done.
His struggles settle down. His teeth touch the flesh. He pauses. Tears roll down his shallow cheeks. Finally his teeth break the flesh and sink deep into the boy's vein, who slumps to unconsciousness right away, which is a special talent and normal for our kind of vampirism. Alestair and Lucy were special in that they did not fall unconscious right away after I cut their flesh and vein with my teeth. Still, alestair does not suck the blood forward and drink. Instead, he still tries to pull away.
"No!" I exclaim, "You must drink! You are committed now. You will kill him if you don't continue! There is no turning back now! Drink!"
The tears come stronger and heavier. The blood from the wound comes to his trembling lower lip. His vampiric nature takes hold of his body. He feeds at last. I watch silently as life flows back into his body from his victim. Color flows back into his face and his cheeks gain some form. He almost appears again as th man that I originally met in 1825. Finally, I squeeze my underling's arm to let him know that he is finished. I allow the boy's body to slump to the ground. Looking up, I see the expression of my disheveled companion. He is frozen. Blood starts to dry on his gaping mouth. I rub his arms and smile brightly at him. "Lick your lips, my friend. I am disgusting enough about our diet without any incentive."
Alestair does not respond to my remark. That may be for the best on my part. I dig through my ragged clothes to find a handkerchief and wipe the blood from his lips. He still does not respond. I stroke his hair from his face to feel his now warm flesh. Still he does not respond. Is it really this difficult for a new vampire?
"It had to be," I console, "He will be alright. I take it is hard to accept. I myself got into this business by choice. I really had no qualms about the blood and the violence. Come, my friend. You did alright. You are fed and he still lives. It will get easier. You will see. He will not remember any of this." I hope. Normally, the victim does not remember the vampire, but we did take awhile, and he did lose control over him. "Come, my friend. We must find shelter. Who knows, I might find myself fed tonight also."
"I don't want to continue," he croaks, "Just let me crawl off somewhere and die."
I take his warm clawed hands into my cold clawed hands. They feel so comfortable there as if I could leech off the warmth, but I will soon remedy that. "You must, my friend, for Lucy's sake and now for his sake. After all, you have about two and a half weeks to live off his blood, and you have taken it and you might as well use it."
"Yes, he will suffer that, too come morning." I never understood why my victims, if they got to survive, always had a hard time breathing and choked most of the new day. I guess it has to do with the length of my fangs compared to the other vampires that I have heard of. "Come, my friend, let us leave this place. Do not worry. Everything will be alright."
We leave at these words. I feel Alestair's pain of mind. I do not know how he will live. I do not know why I am always wrong, but he is what I wanted. Oh, Lord give me the words that will make him feel better. God is no longer listening to me, because my tongue lies heavy in my mouth.
Suddenly my senses pick up another human. I will feed tonight! I smile widely, showing off my long fangs to my otherwise occupied companion. It is really best not to tell him of the hunt that I am about to undertake. I take up his warm hand and pat it reassuringly.
"Stay put," I say, "If I do not return in . . . oh, say a half an hour, continue your search for shelter. I will be back quickly."
My comrade nods. His thoughts are not to my venture. I leave him and go about my stalking. A ragged old man staggers into my sight. The strong smell of intoxication reaches my insulted nostrils. It was fine when I was mortal, but now it distorts the natural flavor of the blood. Blagh! The pain that streaks through my blood starved body tells me to be less finicky and feed. So, I continue my stalking. I overcome my prey quickly and easily and without much of a struggle. No incentive is needed from my companion, who is thankfully out of sight of this scene, to make me take this man's blood. The only second thought I have about the whole thing is how bad the man's blood tastes.
Finally, I return to my troubled friend. The distance in his deep brown eyes make me wonder if sanity is still with him. I grasp his hand, but he pulls away from me. He screws his eyes shut and shakes his head. "You've fed!" he exclaims.
"Yes," I confess.
"Two! We have destroyed two people tonight! It is not right! But we must! OH God! Why? We can't!" He cries out.
"Sh, my friend. They are alright. They are just unconscious for the time being. Come, we must find shelter," I say as I grab for his hand, but he not allow it.
He shakes his head. "No. I will not continue this massacre. Let my soul die and return to Hell before I make a Hell on Earth also. Let me die!"
"Alestair, calm down, my boy. It is not that bad. Please, come on. Time passes. We must find shelter before sunrise." I pull at him with a sense of urgency, but his feet are planted firmly on the ground. He is determined. I cannot get him to move. I stop and turn to him. "Please, my friend."
He pulls away from me. The wildness in his eyes tells me that he is about to run. I grab both him around the waist. He shakes his head and struggles with me. He wiggles one of his arms free and hits me hard across the mouth. Now that I have fed, this is no pleasant experience. Not only that, my own blood runs into my mouth, and I have terrible blood. I won't let go. There is no telling what will happen to him if I did.
"Please, Alestair. We must go on."
He breaks free of my grip and runs. He is younger and faster than me, but I have been a vampire for a long time, and I know much of my power. With a little inventive use of them, I am able to catch him. He continues to fight with me, but I must subdue him. I manage to get hold of his head and force him to face me. "Do not think of it again!" I order in a firm unwavering voice. I hate to do this again. How true can I be to my word, if I go and break it in the first couple days of my return. How can I do this again after what I did to him in 1825 by way of my power. I stroke the hair out of his blank face. I have no choice. The night is old. We must find shelter. What else can I do.
Alestair ceases all struggles at my command. He says nothing. "We will take about it tomorrow night, my friend," I promise him, "Let us just find shelter now."
At least I am not making him do something against the very essence of his soul. Well, I guess it sort of is, but he can live with himself afterwards. It is not quite like what I made him do in 1825. If he finds out to the full extent of what I made him do then, I will not get to have much of a vampiric existence. He will not be hurting anyone this time. I should quit making excuses. It is not right no matter the reason.
I lead the search for shelter. We find an underground cavern. Fortunately, we arrived in an area with hills and as before mentioned, I am quite good at finding such places. We can at least rest there and have shelter from the sunlight. I would prefer my own coffin and my own soil, but this not the time or place to be choosy. Alestair falls to the ground and goes into a deep sleep. He does have many wrong ideas of vampirism. He is learning and he will learn more. He is new at this I must remember.
I unclasp my cloak and put it over him. "It will be better tomorrow," I say while I tuck him in. I stroke his hair. "You will remember tomorrow night, and we will fight it out tomorrow night."
I take to my feet and stand in the middle of the dark earthen place. I rub my sore jaw that is almost healed again, and I realize the magnitude of the job ahead of me. I must teach him everything I know. Tonight's lesson was the hardest one on the list for my young companion. Everything else is secondary. I cannot help but smile. I do not mind the task. I actually look forward to it. He may not particularly like me, but he is not a dream. He is really here. I can speak to him, and he will reply.
I walk to the other side of him. I rummage through my clothes to find that good 'ole Minos has sent my flute back with me. I have always managed to reclaim it upon my return. I sit in the corner and place the fine silver instrument to my lips and play a soft melody. The night dies to the sun's rise, but I cannot rest. I will survive it though.