Aleron: Book One of Strigoi Series (Stringoi Series) (5 page)

“Aleron, our appearance changes slightly after each meal. I look and feel a little more human, though I’m more powerful than I was before I drank. This allows us to mingle among them for a short period of time without drawing too much attention to ourselves. Make no mistake, the
mortals both see us and don’t see us. Their ignorance also allows us to remain with them for centuries.

“Now the time has come for you to feed again.”

“So we must take more than one a night to survive?”

“No. You must now because you’re but a fledgling. I myself won’t need another meal for months. However, I enjoy the hunt and thus will hunt again tomorrow and every day thereafter.”

Where do I begin? Whom should I choose? Should I choose a male or female? Is there a difference?
All of these questions could have been answered by Mynea, but she chose to act as though she could not read my thoughts. She wanted me to learn this basic step on my own, and so I did.

I took Mynea’s hand, and we stepped out of the alleyway and began walking down the cobblestone road toward the distant roar of people conversing. The night air was refreshing in my lungs. I purposely led Mynea with a slower, more humanly pace in an effort to mimic the motions and movements I’d known all of my life. We passed several groups of people chatting about various insignificant topics until we came upon a local watering hole called the Peasant’s Dungeon. I’d heard of this place, yet I couldn’t recall from whom and where. The exterior was familiar to me, and I had a sense of the interior as well: broken wooden doors, the smell of leather, mold covering the seats. I could remember the barkeep and his daughter, who served the gentlemen more than just drinks. We approached the door, and a tall, burly man stood in our way.

“Strangers aren’t welcome. Find another tap,” he said.

Until now I made sure no one we passed saw my eyes or my face. I looked at him and grinned.
We’ll enter and you will show us a clean seat
, I said to his thoughts. He did so. The place was exactly how I’d envisioned it, even though I was sure I had never been there. How could this be? I noticed the familiar scent of the woman Mynea had fed upon emanating from the barkeep. They were acquainted in some manner; I didn’t know how.

“What you’re remembering are not your memories, Aleron. They’re the memories of the woman.”

Of course, once we kissed, the blood had transferred from Mynea to me, and thus the memories from the woman in the theater had passed on to me. How fascinating! This was indeed how I found this place. I didn’t realize until then that I was coming here with a definite purpose.

There were several small groups of people scattered about. The groups were made up mostly of men, though a few contained one or two women, who were there for entertainment purposes only. I began to observe. I could easily take any one of the lot. Was there a method or logic to this skill? Did I kill as Mynea described, like God, indiscriminately and without remorse? Or was there some grand scheme that was not to be realized until the last soul was separated from his body? As I looked around the room, I realized that all chatter had ceased and that everyone was watching us. I could sense the heavy breathing coming from some of the men as they undoubtedly noticed the way Mynea was dressed. The lust in their thoughts and intentions made her smile. She, of course, had noticed long before I had.

I’m going to get that bitch and make her my personal slave
, one man thought. He seemed to command respect from the other lesser men in his group, for they immediately moved out of his way when he stood and approached us near the entrance of the bar. He stood between us and stared at me, thinking Mynea belonged to me.

Stay calm, my love
, she whispered to my mind. Men, it seemed, didn’t need to be lured using any unnatural persuasion, for they’re creatures of habit and, alas, predictable.

Before the man opened his mouth, I could smell his rotting teeth swimming in a sea of ale. A drunken fool he was. “Hello, my lady,” he murmured. “I’m Rathmon, and I would like to employ your services.”

“Of course, my dear Rathmon,” Mynea replied. “Many men have wanted me, and no matter how much they have offered, they must first seek the approval of my keep.”

“Your keep?” he bellowed.

“Yes, my handsome brute. He stands behind you.” The man turned around and looked me up and down, finally locking his eyes on mine. “How much?” he inquired.

“Let us walk and discuss this business in private quarters, shall we?”
I goaded. Relying on the woman’s blood memories, I led the man out of the bar, down a corridor, and into a room. I could almost taste his anticipation for pleasure, for this room was the very room in which he had employed or stolen the services of many. I opened the door and he entered the room behind me. Mynea followed us in and closed the door without touching it.
Fascinating
, I thought, after witnessing yet another power that our kind possessed.

“Now that you have me here, how much for the woman?”

“Make me a fair offer, my good man, and don’t insult the one you desire.” He turned around and considered Mynea from head to toe once more. She made this glance unforgettable by allowing one of her breasts to be slightly exposed by a flutter of her silk gown.

“I’ll give you three pieces of gold for the pleasure of knowing her,” he said, completely bewitched by the allure of her exposed nipple.

“Surely you can do better than that, for she’s young and unspoiled.”

“Five pieces!” he retorted as saliva flew from the sewage of his mouth.

“That’s more like it, my good man.” The man approached Mynea with a bestial lust.

“Gold before the girl’s intimate touch,” I said.

“I’ll pay you once I’m done with your wench. Now leave us lest I have you once I finish with her!”

She allowed him to grab both of her arms, and in an instant, and to my surprise, fueled by possessiveness and spite, my hand penetrated his back with ferocious fury, and I ripped out his heart! He turned around in shock and stared at his heart, still beating in my bloody grasp. The sight of the blood was too much for me to resist. Had this occurred but a day earlier, I would have surely quivered as I fought back the urge to expel my lunch and breakfast.

I marveled at it! His body collapsed to the floor, eyes wide open as he witnessed me drinking his life’s nectar directly from the source. Mynea said nothing. She watched in amazement. Indeed, I didn’t realize my new strength.

I began to hear hurried and clumsy footsteps coming closer. I was astonished by my ability to isolate the sounds of the footsteps entirely, allowing me to determine there were three men and a woman. Obsessed
with bloodlust, my once-human desire for life was utterly devoured by a new compulsion for death. For a moment, I began to imagine myself killing them all and draining them to the point of oblivion. Yes! This was what I wanted. I must have more!

We must go now, Aleron
, Mynea said to my thoughts.
You weren’t quiet in your attack, and others will come if he doesn’t return
.

“Then let them come and face his fate!” I retorted aloud. I felt invincible, a feeling that would prove to be an illusion.

“No, my love, remember, they’re many, and though we’re strong, we’re few. To jeopardize yourself is to expose us all. That must never happen if we’re to continue living.” Mynea grabbed my blood-soaked hand. “Now make haste, for I can sense curiosity from his comrades.”

Just as the door flew open, we were off into the night.

 

We returned to the castle swiftly. We entered the great room, and Mynea took my hand into hers and kissed it. Her kisses became tiny licks and suckles. I looked down and noticed some of the brute’s blood still smeared between my fingers. Even though I wanted to imagine that Mynea was kissing my hand from her sheer attraction and desire for me, I knew it was her lust for the freshly squeezed ambrosia that called out to her. I kissed her lips, for I, too, needed her succulent taste once more. We embraced each other as only unnatural beings could, an inseparable and impenetrable embrace that defied even air’s request for passage. She looked at me with a mother’s concern coupled with a lover’s desire.

I tore off Mynea’s gown, exposing her completely naked body to my touch. She answered by thrusting me across the room while holding my clothing, using the momentum to rip the clothing right off me. I landed on my feet, and she was instantly on me like a lioness pouncing on her prey. I wasn’t nearly as strong as she, so to take command was impossible. She knew this. She held me down, pressing the fur rug tightly between my body and the stone floor. She mounted me with such fury that I felt pain and pleasure, the likes of which I had never felt before
and can scarcely describe in words you’d be able to understand. Just know that our intimacy was heaven’s bliss, though we were hell’s instruments. We were one. Afterward, we remained utterly still in each other’s arms, staring into oblivion, absolutely numb. Mynea broke the silence. “It’s time, my love, for you to rest.”

“I want to lie here with you until the sun rises, my queen.”

“This you cannot do. Listen carefully to what I’m about to tell you. Don’t forget these words, for if you challenge them, your immortality will be forgotten. You’ll die if you expose yourself to the light of the morning sun. You’re a neophyte, utterly unaware of what lies beyond the nest. And though you feel strong, as you rest you’ll become even stronger. Rest will also allow your immortal mind to arrange your ill-gotten memories of those who were slain. This is only achieved through a deep vampiric sleep.”

As she spoke, my body began to feel strange. “You see, Aleron. The sun is awakening, and your body senses its arrival. Your limbs will stiffen, and your mind will no longer be as sharp as it was this past evening. You will be weak and vulnerable. Over the centuries, the sun’s effects will begin to subside.”

I felt a deep sleep befalling me. “Will you be here when I awake?” I asked.

“Of course,” she said. “Of course.”

I drifted into complete darkness. Helpless, like an infant, I lay in complete dependence on my mother, Mynea.

CHAPTER 4
 

glimmer of life returned to me, and my mind gradually grew sharper as I began slipping back into consciousness. The hunger from the previous dawn returned. I wasn’t quite awake yet, but in my half-sleep I could feel my body preparing for reanimation. I began to hear my own heartbeat as it progressed from a faint sound to a pronounced symphonic bass, to acoustic, and then contrabass, until the solo tuba erupted with such fury and determination that ignoring it would be impossible.

As I listened, I noticed something strange about the rhythm of my pulsating heart. I could hear a faint, slow, steady beat, constantly filling in where silence should reside. I used the skill I had learned the previous night and isolated the sound. It was indeed a living pulse, but the constant drum wasn’t mine. I realized that I wasn’t alone. My eyes sprung open to find her.

Mynea stood several feet from me, staring out into the distance. She was completely naked in the dimness of the dying sunlight, defeated by
the rising of the moon. The shadow she cast was intriguing. My eyes widened in awe as the silhouette came to life preceding the movement of her body. She turned around and looked directly into my eyes.

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