Chapter Two: The Man Called Green
Vela awoke to a room filled with millions of tiny motes of twinkling dust that winked in and out of existence as they passed from beam to beam of soft golden light, broken up by the elegantly mangled branches of the apple tree that stood by the window of their secluded chateaux. She attempted to count the flecks of dust but couldn’t quite register them quickly enough before they’d seemingly cease to exist as they passed out of the warm light from the window.
She could feel the refreshing cold of the stone slate on her back that she had slept upon, a habit her elders discouraged. She would have to get used to sleeping inside the little granite chamber soon enough, they would say. They would smile and shake their heads at her insistence—her juvenile reluctance of giving up something cherished and fleeting like a doll or sucking a thumb— that if the soft light of the setting sun didn’t bother her yet, then why shouldn’t she be allowed to awaken to its beauty? She understood on a level of intellectualism she chose more often than not to ignore that they were right: that one day it would be dangerous, that it would cause her pain— could kill her. But for now, what luscious warmth the sun brought her body and soul! Its rays seemed to penetrate her skin and linger within, filling her up until she was overflowing with its golden radiance. She sat up on the granite slate and placed both hands upon her abdomen. The warmth she felt within was so real. She wanted to sing from the feeling it brought her.
She leapt daintily off of her stone bed and ran to the door, yearning beyond reason to feel that warmth unfiltered by the tinted glass of the window. She swung the door open and was startled into motionlessness. The sun was standing at her door. He had glowing, golden skin and brilliant highlights in his auburn hair. His irises shone with a fire like she’d never seen— but she had seen them. She knew this face from somewhere, but she couldn’t quite place it. Her beautiful sun took a few, slow, deliberate steps towards her, smiling knowingly as he approached. She was filled with inexplicable nervousness mixed with desperate excitement. She was afraid of him: this man, the sun. But she longed for him to come to her.
He stopped directly in front of her, his eyes level with her own, and he extended one hand, and placed it on her bare abdomen in the space exposed by her loosely hanging shawl. She gasped at his touch. It felt like a flame that overloaded her senses with so much pleasure that it threatened to hurt! She looked down at his hand and was surprised to see that she didn’t have the petite body of a child, but a woman’s physique.
She looked back up, and the sun was gone. It was dark outside. She turned around, and the little castle had vanished. She was standing alone in the middle of a dark grove. But she wasn’t afraid. She wasn’t alone. She placed her hands where the sun had touched her, and she thought she could still feel him there. She had somehow managed to keep a piece of the sun, and it felt wonderful. The shadowy grove swayed in a cool breeze, and she smiled.
Vela awoke in complete darkness, temporarily unaware of where she was or how she had gotten there. She stared into the darkness for a moment, collecting her thoughts, taking stock of her environment and whereabouts. The events of the previous night began to come back to her, replacing the visions of her dream with solid memories of reality. It struck her that she had been dreaming. She hadn’t had a dream in many long years, and she clung to the images and feelings it left in her mind, still fresh. The feelings of the dream seemed to color her mood with a strange, ethereal sensation that felt fresh and new every time she sampled the memories of it, not losing its unique character no matter how long she allowed her thoughts to linger on it.
She smiled contentedly and laced her fingers together with her hands resting on her abdomen, the warmth of the dream seeming to be concentrated just below the palms of her cold hands. Then, she remembered everything about the night before in an instant and had to will herself not to leap up in shock. “Oh, my goodness, that’s right,” she thought to herself. “I have a borrower in my belly.” This dusk-awakening was throwing her for quite the loop. She hadn’t woken up in an unfamiliar location in a long time either, and she had certainly never forgotten herself so much in such a disoriented way. How could she have forgotten the source of this incredible sensation still present deep within her core? She could feel him resting peacefully in her stomach; Leo.
When she concentrated hard enough, she could actually detect the steady tempo of his sleeping breaths and minuscule heartbeat. So, he had managed to sleep well within her. That was good. It would be a long night. She was glad he had rested and hoped it had been as refreshing as her own sleep had been. She lied there in silent appreciation for a while, contemplating the dream she had had, and the night before. Both were so singular and exciting in their novelty. So little was completely new to her anymore. It made her feel like the young girl she had been once again in her dream, back when she was warmer, softer, more curious and less worldly. Back when she could still bear to look upon the setting sun.
She decided that it had to be a combination of the spiritual warmth Leo had helped her feel the evening before combined with the literal, physical heat he was still radiating into her cold body from within that had inspired the dream. Even a good, gluttonous meal didn’t stay warm inside her all throughout the day while she slept, but Leo didn’t cool, his persistent flame burning on like a magical candle that she coveted and wanted to keep hidden.
She sighed, knowing that this peaceful moment must give way to productivity. They had to travel. And before that, she had to eat. If the night before had proven anything besides her apparent disposition towards nigh-forgotten feelings of whimsical abandonment, it was that food was growing scarce in these hills. She almost giggled at a thought she had. “I need to eat something besides you, my little sun,” she whispered to the man slumbering in her belly.
Vela sat up slowly, not wanting to disturb the little guy more than was necessary to wake him. She acknowledged with humor that even sitting up would be the equivalent of dumping poor Leo out of bed, or at least rocking it quite a bit. When she was sitting in an almost upright position, she paused to feel his movements, and he still hadn’t stirred. She stared at her midsection with interest, impressed by Leo’s ability to sleep so soundly in such a strange and new environment as her stomach. She pondered for a moment about how best to wake him and settled on gently prodding her belly with her hand while saying his name softly.
Leo, who quite often had dreams, was dreaming that he was in a hammock tied in a small fork of a tree branch suspended high in the air. There was water somewhere rushing along far below him that soothed his senses. Suddenly, he was no longer alone in the hammock. Vela was there. She was gently pressing against his flank and saying his name, but she sounded distant and distorted.
“Leo, my little firefly, it’s time to wake up.”
“But I am awake, Vela.” He was confused. She shook her head, and pressed him a little harder, somehow rocking the hammock.
“Can’t stay in there all night, friend.” He stared at her beautiful face with wonderment, and then, just as he made sense of her words, his eyes snapped open, and he was in perfect darkness.
“Oh. Wow,” he said, momentarily taken aback at the strange sensation of awakening inside a vampire’s stomach. This was certainly a first among firsts. He heard Vela softly murmuring his name from outside as she seemed to be pressing against herself where she knew he would feel it. He pressed his hand against the smooth, slick flesh of her belly where he estimated her fingers to be. “I’m up. Good morning, Vela.” She chuckled.
“Good evening, Leo.” He realized his mistake. Evening. Of course. It was hard to tell from his current position, but vampires didn’t exactly rise with the sun. “Did you sleep well, little guy?” She asked. He sat up and rubbed sleep from his eyes.
“I guess I did, yeah. Pretty comfortable in here, to be frank. Surprisingly so.” Vela felt so tender towards Leo that his complimenting her belly as ‘surprisingly comfortable’ made her feel strangely flattered. It was certainly not one she had heard before from a man, let alone one not under ‘the influence.’
“Well, you’re welcome to return anytime you like, scrumptious! Or you could just stay inside me forever!” She teased. Leo laughed groggily.
“Yeah, tempting,” he said with a little sarcasm. “But I think I’d begin to miss your lovely face,” he added. Vela smiled big at this.
“O-h-h-h, such a smooth talker. Trying to sweet talk your way out of my depths?”
“Hey, I think many men would be more likely to try and charm their way into them.” He paused at the sound of his own words, wondering if that sounded weird. “Into your... well. You know what I mean.” She laughed softly.
“You’re not making a very good case for being let out.”
“Suppose I’m not. How, um, do we go about that, anyway?”
“Oh? You don’t know? Well if you just crawl to the back of my stomach, I’m sure you’ll find the exit. It’s several meters in length, and a little snug, but I’m sure you can figure it out.” Leo was confused for a moment, and then made sense of her implication. Surely, she didn’t intend to make him wriggle through her intestines and out her— she cut him off mid-thought. “You thought I was serious, didn’t you?” She laughed loudly, her belly heaving a bit with Leo inside.
“Kinda did, yeah,” he admitted.
“Oh, Leo. You’re swift, and doubtlessly gifted at navigating tight places. But that would take all night! That, and, well, nothing’s been through there in a while... not sure how it would feel. Some other time,” she finished, and he wasn’t sure if she was still joking. He was about to repeat his original question, when suddenly he was squeezed on all sides by the soft folds of her belly, and his stomach sank into his feet as he felt quite quickly propelled upwards. In no time, he was back up within the mouth that had consumed him early that morning. She didn’t open up immediately, instead getting a good last taste of her ‘placeholder meal,’ licking him thoroughly and humming with satisfaction. Then, he saw dim light as the portal opened before him. He was met with a view of her open palm as her tongue extended from between her lips with him upon it. She let him slide off of it and into her hand. He landed gently on his chest and rolled over onto his back. He had the pleasure of looking into the lovely face of the woman who had been his captor and benefactor. She was gazing at him adoringly with a hand on her cheek. He decided that if she could blush, she’d be doing it.
“Nice to see you again, Vela.”
“Yes, same to you, though I didn’t miss you one bit,” she kissed him, taking him by surprise. “But I did miss doing that.” Unfortunately for Leo, he was physiologically capable of blushing. She smiled at the effect she had on him, never losing its delight. Leo suddenly realized that Vela was still naked from the waist up, something she had not rectified from the night prior. While this shouldn’t be a big deal to the man who had just spent the day literally inside of this woman, he felt a little bashful, and wanted to appear as casual about such things as she appeared to be. He cleared his throat.
“Ahem, yes. Well, plenty of time for that on the road, I hope. So, what’s the plan?”
“First I need to hunt. If I can close width on something filling early enough in the evening, then we may begin on our journey.”
“Can’t you hunt in the direction of our travels?” Leo asked. Vela looked at him inquisitively.
“You wish to... join me in hunting?” Leo worried that he’d miss-stepped.
“Oh, no, I mean. Not if you’re uncomfortable with it. I don’t know. Is it something you prefer to do alone?” Vela stared at him through narrow eyes for a moment before she burst out laughing.
“Gods, make ME uncomfortable? You continue to surprise me, Leo. No, I simply assumed watching me feed would make YOU uncomfortable. I don’t mind at all! In fact, I welcome it!” She was being utterly sincere, though she refrained from telling Leo how much she truly hated the idea of leaving him here while she went hunting alone. She was loath to part from him, feeling abnormally attached to the borrower, and she had an irrational feeling that if she lost sight of him, she may never find him again.
“Well it’s settled then. I’ll gather a few things from here and we’ll be on our way. Do you need to stop by your place for anything?” Vela shook her head.
“I have everything I need. Starting over means starting over. The only thing I’m bringing with me is you, Leo.” Leo’s chest fluttered a little. He liked to fancy himself being all that she needed but kept his opinion on the matter quiet.
“Well then,” he said, hopping from her hand and over to the corner where she’d bundled his clothing the night before once he’d discarded them. She appreciated how swift the man could be. He was quite quick on his feet. “I’ll just get dressed. You mind getting the hatch? It’s a more direct route to where I need to get than through my little passageways.” Vela stood and lifted the hatch. Soft, silvery moonlight flooded into the crawl space. She went to offer him a hand but saw that he was already bounding up the stairs one hop per step. “Marvelous little creature,” she thought to herself.
“Oh, full moon tonight, I think,” He remarked.
“Not quite. It will be in a couple of days,” she replied.
“Oh, well it’s really bright, anyway. Really glowing up the place. You’ve gone and made me a new front door,” he joked as he neared the hole in the wall from whence she had snatched him the night before. “Quite conveniently located if you don’t mind my saying so, but the craftsmanship is a little... hasty.” She giggled.
“The ends justified the means?” She suggested. He leapt up to the hole and turned to look at her before slipping away. He smiled.
“That they do, Vela. Back before you know it!”
“I’ll count the seconds.” He chuckled as he turned his back to her and disappeared from view. She wasn’t joking. Counting was a favorite pastime of hers, and she couldn’t help but begin subconsciously counting the seconds while he was away.
One. Two. Three.
Her stomach growled. She frowned. Her belly had been momentarily confused after she’d spit Leo back up, but it seemed to have caught on that it was, indeed, quite empty, and all of the ravenous sensations of having put off the drinking of sorely needed blood came back and hit her with a vengeance, her bitter thirst punishing her for tricking it so cruelly.
Thirty-seven, thirty-eight. Thirty-nine.
She listened carefully to the sounds of Leo scampering around within the walls, wondering what his living situation in there had been like. She entertained thoughts of his years spent in the house, living comfortably off of the unknown kindness of his host family, borrowing food and affects from them that they wouldn’t miss.
One hundred eighty-six, one hundred eighty-seven, one hundred eighty-eight.
Vela was blessedly patient, but Leo seemed to have an odd way of making her feel juvenile in weird ways, and she needed something to distract her besides simply counting. She turned to the wall opposite the one she currently detected Leo to be behind and approached it. She found a light, wooden trunk, and popped the latch, opening it to find some clothes that had been left behind. She took a look at herself. The rags that passed for pants had certainly seen better days. She didn’t perspire, so they weren’t soiled from sweat or odors, but they had been worn to the point of being threadbare, where there were still threads. They were torn to the point of almost being shorts, threatening to come apart at the seams, and they were discolored where they weren’t stained. She knew that the blouse she had discarded in the crawl space wasn’t any better off, so she decided that it wouldn’t hurt to exchange her wardrobe before their journey. While looking sharp wasn’t her priority, clothing served practical purposes, and she giggled while imagining Leo’s horror if her pants were to fly apart completely if she caught a loose branch in the woods.
Four hundred fifty-one. Four hundred fifty-two.
She pulled down the tattered pants and stepped out of them. Then, she bent forward and began rummaging through the little chest for something that would be a good fit, favoring function over fashion. At the bottom, she discovered a set of black, heavy trousers that looked like they’d survive quite a few passes through briars and near misses with rough-barked trees, even at her speed. She selected a light, linen blouse of beige that had ties which would allow for a tighter fit, regardless of that fact that it was cut for someone a little stockier than she was. Luckily, she had no use for shoes, because good shoes weren’t something people left lying around regardless of what kind of a hurry they’re in, or how light they need to pack. Vela’s feet were as tough as the rest of her, and she preferred to keep them bare.
Seven hundred thirty-eight. Seven hundred thirty-nine... what was taking that Leo?
Leo had made his way up into the ceiling, gabbed his satchel that could be strung diagonally across his back, and began to have an entirely different debate than he was having about packing the night before. He could probably get away with packing a little heavier now that Vela would probably be doing most of the walking. Leo liked walking, but he doubted he could keep up with the vampire even if he was her size, but he still didn’t want to bring more than he could fit on his back, even if he wasn’t going to be hoofing it for miles on his own.
He stuffed the satchel with various provisions from dried meats and tiny jars of preserves to a change of clothes and some hygienic supplies. He looked around the nook in the ceiling that he had called his “room,” for years and wondered if he’d miss it much. This place certainly wouldn’t be a home without the noises of the Tolbert’s, the now-gone family, making all the sounds that filled these walls with life.
He would miss them. Though he enjoyed it more here when the kids were still young. Borrowers, like many magical folks, tended to live a while longer than humans, and he had seen the kids grow up, take husbands and wives, and move on to start their own families. The family he had grown used to was now just a couple of aging parents quietly enjoying their empty nest. And now, they had gone too. It was time for Leo to move on as well. He was to lucky to have met Vela.
He was about to leave his room before he remembered why he’d been on his way up here before he met Vela. He had used to keep a journal. He had let the habit get away from him, but since he had anticipated being alone on the road a while, he thought he might enjoy reading his old entries, and pass some time writing more. He remembered where he’d stashed it; it was just over the nearest wooden beam and tucked into a tiny notch in the second rafter away.
He hopped and dashed over to its hiding place and peered through a tiny hole in the ceiling to see what Vela was doing while she waited. His jaw dropped, and he actually did a double take, comically rubbing his eyes. He didn’t mean to peep, but he couldn’t peel his eyes away from the beautiful spectical before him. She was bent over stark naked and rummaging through a wooden chest where he knew the Tolbert’s kept some old clothes.
Didn’t she know he might emerge from his packing errand at any moment? He reasoned that she really must not care about such things. He realized that when she removed her top while kissing him the previous night, she had only done so to excite him, as nudity didn’t seem to mean anything to the vampire. Even so, it meant something to him, and he gawked like an idiot at the moonlight glinting on the pale, almost luminescent skin of her perfect rear. He seriously couldn’t believe how beautiful and sexy this woman was. “I spent the night with that woman,” he thought. “In that woman,” he corrected himself.
As she stood erect from her search in the chest, he pried himself away out of reflex. He caught his breath, waited a moment for his heart rate to settle, and made his way back down to the hole. The hole really was much closer than the way he was used to getting in.
As he emerged from the hole, Vela had just finished tying the string of her ‘new’ blouse.
“One thousand forty-four,” she said casually. He paused after hopping down from the hole, tilting his head.
“One thousand forty— what?” He asked.
“You were gone for one thousand forty-four seconds. I said I’d count.” She said with a smile. “Something keep you? Or did you just have a lot to pack?” He felt a lump in his throat. How many seconds had he wasted staring at her naked butt? Before he could think, he found himself saying something truly outrageous:
“I was passing by a hole in the ceiling and I became distracted,” he said with such a casual air that he was shocked, and the back of his neck turned hot enough to fry an egg. Why had he just told her that? He understood she seemed incapable of lying, but that didn’t mean he was. He looked at her while he awaited some kind of reprimand, but she merely grew wide-eyed and laughed.
“Oh! My goodness! I completely forgot myself! I’m sorry, Leo! That’s so... lacking in self-awareness? I forget such things unless I’m in a very specific mood, you see, and...” Leo raised a hand once again to cut her off. She seemed perceptive to that body language. He couldn’t let Vela blame herself when she was blameless, which he assumed she would always be.
Sometimes she seemed so innocent.
“You don’t have to apologize for me spying on you while you change. You certainly don’t have to apologize for nudity,” he said, and she just smiled at him. “I’m just sorry it didn’t last longer,” he finished with a joking tone. Always finish with humor, he thought. Secretly, Vela was all too aware that she had a chance of being caught. She truly didn’t care. But she liked teasing the little guy. Especially since he was keeping her waiting. Her stomach was growing impatient. She couldn’t just delay that need by swallowing borrowers forever.
“Ha! Well, if I never put clothes back on, you’d never have come back out!” She giggled.
“That’s not... necessarily true,” he said quietly. She shrugged off his protests.
“Do you like the new look?” He hadn’t honestly paid much attention to her new clothes. He took a gander at them now. He tried and failed to stifle a laugh. “What?” She asked.
“Those belonged to the young master years ago.” Her face remained unchanged. “They’re men’s clothes?” He offered. Still, she just looked at him perplexed. He relented. “Well they... they look a lot better on you.” He concluded.
Vela opened her mouth to say something he assumed would be a retort, but then her eyes narrowed, and she looked sharply to her left out the window.
“Someone approaches,” she said in a low whisper that almost sounded like a hiss. Suddenly, Vela was like a completely different person. Leo didn’t need to be told to take cover. He didn’t know what she knew. He couldn’t hear the coming of the stranger yet. He didn’t know how far off they were or if they were even coming this way, but borrowers instinctively took cover when they knew humans were nearby.
Leo knew the house well, so his body knew where to go. His instincts carried him swiftly to a nearby board in the floor with a natural hole in it, and he quickly slipped out of sight. He peered out of it and watched Vela carefully. If he hadn’t been looking, he wouldn’t have known she had seemingly glided across the room and hid against the wall where she wouldn’t be seen when the stranger came in through the front door. He was baffled. She was so silent when she wanted to be! How could one move so quickly with such stealth? He shook his head, trying to pay attention to her just in case he had to move in a hurry. Though he was certain that whoever came through that door, she would have it under control. He almost felt bad for the unseen stranger. But he understood that a vampire must feed.
Vela had snapped into hunting mode, her instincts taking over the moment she heard the distant footsteps of the approaching stranger. They sounded like they belonged to a human man wearing heavy boots and some heavy gear that shortened his gait and rattled after his footfalls. Could he be military? A mercenary? This town didn’t get a lot of that sort, but it wasn’t unheard of. She caught a glimpse of Leo hiding himself and was content that he would be safely out of the way so she’d be able to get what she needed from this man, whoever he was, and then she could snatch Leo up and they’d be on their way.
She waited for the man to enter the house. More than likely, he was a simple thief looking to make an easy mark of one more abandoned home. She listened eagerly as his boots came up the path. Her mouth watered the moment one of them “clunked” heavily on the first wooden step. “Clunk, clunk, clu-clunk.” He was standing in front of the door. She was set like a spring trap, ready to pounce. Any second now, the door would open, he would pass through, and she’d have him in her arms and under the alluring influence of her voice. She’d taste man’s blood tonight. It was exactly what she needed.
The door didn’t open.
She stood there in frozen silence. She could hear the soft, calm breathing of the mysterious man. She could even hear Leo breathing, though his breathing was a little more intense, his energy elevated. She waited. The man would enter. Surely, he would enter. Why else would he even approach the door?
His footsteps resumed, but they were moving away from the door. The man moved over to the nearby window and seemed to peer inside. Vela knew there was no chance he could see her, so she continued to lie in wait. He took his time, thoroughly taking in all he could through the dusty window. Then, the unthinkable happened. The stranger spoke.
“House looks empty, but it ain’t, is it?” He said more as a statement than a real question. Vela was dumbfounded. How did he know? What sort of trickery? Was he bluffing? “No use in hiding, I know there’s someone behind the door, I just can’t see ya.” Well that settled it. Vela was certain he wasn’t lying. She’d be able to tell at this point, and he’d guessed her hiding place as well. She’d have to do this in a more direct manner.
“What do you want?” She asked, feigning a quiver of fear. “We don’t have anything valuable.” He chuckled.
“A woman, huh? You don’t have much of anything, I presume. I’m told this house is freshly abandoned. Now, I didn’t come here to hurt anyone. I’m just looking for easy loot. Fair game. I’m guessing that’s what you’re after too, no? So why don’t you just open up and we’ll settle this civilly. Split what we can carry. No need to quarrel. No need to worry.”
Vela didn’t like this. Something was wrong. The man wasn’t lying, she was sure of that, but he wasn’t telling the whole truth. Still, she was sure she could handle him.
She stepped out of her shadow and opened the door.
The door swung open, and the two strangers stood there in the moonlight separated by a mere meter of empty space. The light cast a shadow of the man across Vela’s face, obscuring her slightly, but making him backlit to her. She could see him clearly, however. He looked like an average man in his mid-thirties. He wore a brimmed hat, a loose, cotton cloak, and leather gloves and boots. Physically, he wasn’t much of a specimen, but it was his demeanor that concerned her. His gaze was intelligent. He kept her in his center field of vision, but as soon as the door opened and he took note of her location, he’d looked past her into the room, scanning it for threats. He didn’t scare her, but he kept her on her guard. He might not be a simple meal.
After a moment of looking around, his eyes fixed on hers.
“You’ve got some beautiful eyes.” He said.
“You looking for more than free goods?” Vela asked with a hint of seduction, hooking her middle finger into the collar of her blouse and tugging on it revealingly. She had to try every angle before resorting to brute force. It didn’t work.
“Oh, I’m sure if you were really offering, it would come at a cost. But no, I really did just come here to do a little harmless pillaging— just didn’t expect to run into a vampire in an empty cottage.” If Vela’s heart were beating before, it would have stopped. Her face transformed from the prior, unlikely mixture of concern and allure into one of pure and focused predation. No more facades.
“You’re a rather perceptive mortal, aren’t you,” she said in a more serious tone, “and a willful one at that. Not given to fear. Your courage makes your eyes and head clear.”
“I appreciate the compliments, Miss...” he paused to allow for her name.
“I’ll refrain for now,” she said, not willing to lie, but not eager to over share.
“Fair. Miss Fuchsia,” he said, alluding to the pink of her eyes that was burning with a darker hue in the moonlight. “Well, Miss Fuchsia, I do appreciate compliments that seem sincere, and while I know you’d probably say anything to get what you need if you’re needing it, I know you don’t need flattery, like you know that my clear eyes and head won’t do too much for me in the long run if, well. Are you thirsty?” She shuddered at the directness of the question. No way to dodge it.
“Quite,” she said, not moving and inch. The man didn’t seem perturbed by this.
“Then I suppose you’ll be wanting to drink my blood...”
“Good to know. Miss Fuchsia has self-control. Well, seems fitting. Came here to do some thievin, end up losing something of mine. Probably not much I can do to stop you, but...” he brought his left hand up and hooked the thumb into his belt buckle. He seemed to be leaning back into a comfortably poised position.
“But?” Vela asked, cautious, but amused with the young humans knowledgeable and calm demeanor. She fully intended to sink her teeth into him, but she got the feeling there was another shoe yet to drop.
“But I’m not going to just lie down and give it to you.” She grinned.
“You want to fight me, human?” He returned here grin.
“Yeah, I guess I do.”
“This will only end one way, Mr...”
“Now I’m no mister, but you can call me Green.”
“Green. This doesn’t have to hurt. But I’m sure you understand, I can’t pass this up.”
“No doubt, Miss Fuchsia.”
Leo was watching with keen interest from his little hole in the floorboards. He couldn’t get a good visual on the man because Vela was in the way and the angle was a little sharp, but he could hear everything clearly. Vela was leaning against the doorframe casually engaging with this human who had somehow identified her as a vampire immediately upon looking at her in the dark room. Sure, if you knew what you were looking for, Leo supposed a vampire would be hard to miss, but that still said something about the man. They finished speaking, having come to the conclusion together that they would have to resort to some degree of violence. Leo was interested in the pending duel. He wanted to see what Vela was capable of.
Vela assumed her statuesque state, waiting for her opponent to make the first move. She intended to counter whatever clumsy attack and use it against him to ensnare him in a throw or a hold so she could have quick and easy access to a vein. She hoped he would simply punch so she could bar his arm and bite him on the inside of the elbow or the underside of his forearm. Outwardly, she was as stone. Inwardly, however, she was a tempest of anticipation and raw thrill. She was so hungry it hurt. She was aware that might impair her judgment a little, and perhaps even make her sloppy, but it didn’t weaken her. Not yet. And tonight, she would have her fill.
The man slowly extended his right arm to the side, holding it parallel to the floor. His fingers splayed out and a baton of some sort seemed to leap from his sleeve into his grip. It was smooth and made from nearly black wood until it got to the base and handle, at which point there was a shallow guard inscribed with some sort of light blue, glowing runes before the rest of the handle was bound in simple leather. Vela eyed the instrument with curiosity. The man rocked back, picked up his right foot, let it fall back, planted it firmly on the wooden porch with a dull “thud,” and sprang forward, swinging the baton at Vela’s head.
She waited until the last possible moment to react, making up her mind as to how she would counter his simple, careless attack. She decided on catching his wrist in her left hand and wrapping her right arm under it to finish with a karate chop to his neck, which would stun him long enough for her to grab the baton and disarm him for easier manipulation. She began with the grab, easily capturing his swinging arm, but, to her surprise, something extraordinary happened. He angled the baton in his right hand to lightly touch her left wrist which held his, and the touch held the impact like that of a 20-pound sledgehammer being swung by a man twice his size.
Vela’s left arm was repelled with such sudden and unexpected violence, it sent her unbalanced and unprepared body spinning in a full circle. She was helpless to stop it, as her feet had left the floor. She was at the mercy of momentum. She threw out her legs and attempted to counter-twist at her trunk to try and divert some of the inertia, but as she came back around for the full spin, she saw that, though the man hadn’t had much time to move, he had used it wisely. Somehow, the hand with the wand hadn’t been thrown back after it sent her spinning. He’d simply brought his right hand carrying the baton back towards her a little, and her own spin caused her to collide with it at many times the force with which the first touch had sent her spinning.
The impact was magnificent. Vela’s face was the perfect picture of utter shock as she was thrown into the floor with such force that she splintered the boards and slid all the way into the far wall, which also cracked and splintered from her impact. She hardly had time to compose herself and stand back up before the young man was on her again, and he brought the baton against her chest. He connected a full swing, powered with the speed of his sprinting, for the first time, and Vela seemed to disappear along with a chunk of the wall about six feet in diameter.
The stranger stood in the center of the gaping, jagged hole in the wall and stared into the darkness outside. He was breathing heavily, and the hand holding his baton shook.
“Hmph.” He grunted, raising his shaking hand. “She’s like hitting an oak tree. Damn, that aches.”
Leo was a little horrified. He hadn’t expected this to go the way it had at all. He snapped into action, hopping out of his floorboard hiding place and slipping out of the gaping hole in the wall, right past the stranger without him noticing. Leo ran a few feet into the woods and looked around for Vela. He was standing in her impact crater, but she was nowhere to be seen. Leo turned around to look back into the hole from which the human man was still staring with unseeing eyes into the night.
Just then, the window to the left of the man shattered, and Vela had a hold of his free hand. She gave him no time to act, swinging his entire body with such force that his baton arm wouldn’t be able to resist the inertia, and she released him, sending him flying into the wall opposite the hole they had made. The same second he had made impact, she was back on him, grabbing the stunned man and performing a shoulder toss in the opposite direction that sent him hurtling out the very hole he’d created moments before. He somersaulted in the air and landed on his back, continuing to slide for several feet upon impact.
Leo managed to get out of the way just in time not to he flattened by the stranger as he was ejected from the cottage. When the man landed, the mysterious weapon slipped from his hand, and Leo capitalized on what he saw as an opportunity. He ran up to the instrument, and grabbed it by the handle, and was able to drag it a few feet away from the stranger before he was able to get his bearings.
The man lied there motionless for a moment, wondering if he’d broken anything. Attempting to sit up confirmed his fears. A couple ribs at least. And something in his back felt funny. He reached out with his right hand for his baton, but he seemed to have dropped it. “Damn, that vampire could really throw, huh?” He thought.
He stared upwards, and the vampire suddenly appeared above him, looking down on him with pity. All traces of fierceness seemed to have temporarily left her face.
“You’re tougher than ironwood,” Green said, attempting to sound good humored through clenched teeth. He grunted, and held his right arm across his chest, cradling his tender rib cage. He watched as Vela circled around him and stood at his feet without saying a word to him. He struggled to sit up and propped his left arm behind himself for stability. “You must be very old. You’ve hardened tremendously. I usually can’t feel any shock through the handle of that impact wand, but I sure felt hitting you. Think my fingers are full of micro fractures.”
“You were full of surprises,” Vela said flatly. Then she smiled, and like lightning, she had him held up in the air, his feet not touching the ground. She held him by his collar in her left hand, and with her right, she grabbed hold of his left arm and extended it. She bared her fangs, and bit into the fabric of his cloak, and twisted her head violently to the right, and spit out a chunk of both his cloak and the leather garment beneath. Then she turned back to look at him, and she ran forward, pinning him to a nearby pine tree. She leaned in, and bit into the patch of exposed flesh on his chest directly on top of his left pectoral.
“Gyyyyaaaaah!” Green shouted and hissed in pain at the feeling of her sharp fangs penetrating his tender skin. He kicked and thrashed in her vice-like grip, and seemed to recoil from his own struggles, the fight causing pain to his other injuries. He realized that kicking her too hard would likely result in nothing but a broken foot on top of everything else. He gritted his teeth to the point that he thought they might shatter, but as soon as he thought the pain would become too agonizing to bear, it abated. She hadn’t stopped drinking; on the contrary, she had only just begun. But the moment her tongue began lapping at the wound her razor-fangs had inflicted, it went almost completely numb. Even the pain in his ribs subsided. “Ugh, that’s the stuff,” he coughed weakly. She was giving him a powerful dose of her anesthetizing venom. It caused his muscles to go limp in addition to erasing most of his pain. She probably could have been less brutal about the initial bite and caused less pain in the first place, and she also probably could have injected the venom a lot sooner than when she began to drink, but he figured she was paying him back for the trouble. His limbs hung uselessly as she drank her fill.
Leo stood back and watched the display with fascination. The fight had been brief and more violent than anything he’d ever seen. The way Vela moved and handled the man terrified him on one level, but on another he was transfixed. Watching her prey on Green didn’t change Leo’s opinion of her, but he had to rectify his positive opinion of the sweet, gentle woman he was getting to know with the spectacle before him now— in the eyes of men, Vela was quite the monster.
Vela broke the connection between her mouth and Green’s chest wound. A small amount of blood trickled from the bite marks, but it stopped quickly, the wound already coagulating. Her tongue snaked out of her mouth and gave his chest one last lick before circling around her lips and cleaning up any mess of blood left on her face. She smiled and hissed through her teeth and dropped the poor man roughly. Then she knelt before him, and righted his posture, arranging him in a comfortable looking seated position.
“Thank you for your generous donation,” she said mockingly to the man.
“Duh meshon ih,” Green replied. His words were heavily slurred and muted, the venom clearly impairing his ability to speak. He groaned, and his head hung back, but his eyes remained locked on Vela. She stepped back from him, and wiped her mouth with her hand, and then licked the palm. Leo thought her eyes were glowing brighter now, and her musculature looked a little fuller, her skin a little less grey.
“Just sit there and relax for a while. It’ll wear off in a few hours.” She giggled at him in his slumped position. “More pain, more venom, more paralysis. You brought this on yourself. But I’ll admit, it was fun! Should we meet again, I hope you’re packing more toys like that little wand!” With that, she turned and looked directly at Leo. He wasn’t surprised she knew where he was. He ran up to her, and she offered him a hand. He climbed aboard, and she set him upon her shoulder before giving one last look to the incapacitated man on the ground. Green’s eyes shifted to look at Leo.
“Huh!” He grunted with interest, and then immediately tipped sideways in a curled-up heap, succumbing to and passing out from the intoxicating effects of Vela’s potently paralytic venom.
“Is he gonna be okay?” Leo asked.
“That one will be just fine,” she assured him.
“Are you okay?” She turned her head to look at Leo, and her mouth stretched into the biggest smile he’d ever seen. She looked positively giddy.
“Are you kidding me? I feel incredible! That was amazing! I didn’t know they made humans like that! What unexpected fun!” Leo laughed. He would have hated to be either party in that fight and was glad to have played such a minor role in it. “That poor cottage, though. We really wrecked it,” she said nodding towards the immense hole in the nearby wall. “Oh, and thank you for snatching his baton— the ‘impact wand,’ as he called it. That thing was trouble. Some powerful mage craft in it. I should have known. She walked over to where the baton lied in the dirt, picked it up, observed that the runes were no longer glowing, and laid it down in the lap of the unconscious Green.
She stood up tall and took in a deep breath through her nostrils and let it out through her mouth.
“Invigorating,” she said. “Did you enjoy the show, or were your eyes bigger than your stomach?”
“I’ll admit, it was a lot more excitement than I’m used to.”
“You and me, both.”
“That said, yes! It was rather thrilling! You’re a force to be reckoned with! Did those hits hurt at all?” Leo was afraid to ask if she had been in any real danger, his heart rate only now beginning to return to normal after watching her reel from the first impact.
“Hurt? No. But I was very stunned. I’ve never been hit like that by a human. Humans are such crafty, surprising creatures sometimes. But his toy and its tricks were only a deterrence. They might’ve worked if I weren’t... well, starving! There was simply no way I was going to let that man go without a bite.”
“I’d say you left your mark,” Leo commented.
“Oh, yes. That’ll leave a lovely scar. He’ll remember me. Hopefully his other wounds don’t slow him down too much.” She said.
“You’re very compassionate for such a capable predator,” Leo said with a smirk.
“Thank you on both accounts,” she said, giving a little curtsy. “Now. Did you pack everything you needed? Our friend, Green, actually saved us a lot of time.”
“I’m all set,” Leo said, tightening his satchel on his back as he replied.
“Good! An auspicious beginning to our journey together. My, how much I needed human blood! I’d have had to kill a deer otherwise. But there’s really no substitute for a couple pints of the good stuff.” She looked at Leo thoughtfully for a moment. “How best to transport my little companion?” She questioned aloud, drumming a finger on her lips. “Ah, I know,” she said, plucking him off her shoulder. “I think you’ll rather like this...”
She set him down on the ground and undid the ties of her blouse and redid them all so that one tie was cinched smartly around her waist, and the other around the biggest part of her chest, making the blouse resemble a tunic. Then, she picked Leo back up and tucked him snugly into her cleavage. She tightened the tie a little more, pressing her breasts firmly against Leo on both sides. His legs were positively sandwiched, but it wasn’t uncomfortable, and his chest and arms were still free, so he was able to breathe freely and move around a bit. She was correct, he did rather like this arrangement.
“Comfy?” She asked with an air of knowing allusion. Leo blushed at the unexpected seating arrangement.
“You know I am,” was all he could say.
“Good. Can’t have you slipping out. Now, brace yourself, little guy. I have a feeling you’re not accustomed to doing things at my speed.” Before he could reply, she was off. He gasped and held onto the edges of the fabric forming a “V” right below him for dear life. The woods became a blur as the wind whipped past his face. He’d only experienced speed like this from falling a great distance, and never for a sustained period of time.
She appeared to be running towards the mountains, leaving the shallow hills of the small town behind them. Away from the little cottage. Away from the man named Green. Away from the world he had known his whole life. Into the dark and the unknown. He smiled, and wiggled a little deeper into the ample, soft breasts that cushioned and contained him. It wasn’t a particularly bumpy ride for a woman in a dead sprint. Her arms and legs appeared capable of moving in such a smooth manner that it kept her head and torso more or less stable as she dashed forward. He got comfortable, trusting that she would take them where she deemed best, and that would be best.
Their journey had begun.