((Whooooaaaa. I'm like two weeks away from an actual honest-to-god more-or-less stable work schedule. Mondays off for this week and the next. Should get a post in next Monday, too.
Not knowing when I'll have free to write makes it hard to get writing done. Plus general ill health and inability to sleep.
Holy shit holy shit holy shit this story hit 396 hits on fanfiction.net Sunday. /faint.))
If the Dunmer had wanted her dead, she wouldn't have lived to see the sunrise, painful as it may have been. That thought kept her calm when every instinct shrieked for her to run.
"Why stop?" She asked, instead.
The smith frowned ever so slightly. "What makes you think I have, fledgling?"
He nodded slowly. "There is that. Should I kill you, then? I would be within my rights, to kill a vampire in my own home, one who's hurt a mortal even." For emphasis, he gestured at the Bosmer on the bed. "The guard wouldn't care - not one person would so much as bat an eyelash, not when they saw those fangs. Would anyone mourn your passing? That boy, maybe?" She tried not to show her hurt. He was testing her, poking at her weak points. She looked down and away, ashamed she couldn't maintain her composure.
"I'll take your silence as a no."
She swallowed heavily. "I don't want to die. Not yet." She was surprised to realize it was true. She had work yet to do. Even if she didn't - even though her family was dead, even though that left a gaping wound where her heart should be, she wanted to heal. "I don't." She wanted to see Martin again, and even his Blades intrigued her.
"Should I care what you want?" He pointed at her with the blade he'd used on her bandages, expression cold. She shook her head slowly. "... Well, I do."
Her gaze snapped back to his face, she stared at him in confusion. "Fledgling ... not one person in this world will show you kindness. Most won't even show you mercy - not if they know who you are, what you are." He shook his head, sounding ... almost sad? "Most would kill you without a second thought, but you - just by your actions, you have proven you are a thinking, feeling person. You, like everyone else, have the choice to do good. Should you be slain, just because your condition makes the choice harder?"
Lyssi frowned again. "So, you don't hunt vampires."
Something about what she said must have been funny; he laughed merrily. She felt her cheeks warm once more. "No, no, fledgling. If a vampire causes problems in Anvil, I would happily rip off their limbs and stake them out for the sun. Even if I didn't, your kind cleans up their own messes. Like that beast who slaughtered the Cheydinhal guard." She stared at him once more, fear welling up. He couldn't know. "Yes, you've heard of that, haven't you. It put a lot of people on edge. I'd wager it's hard for even a normal burglar to operate in that city right now, much less a vampire."
She nodded slowly. "I had nothing to do with that." It wasn't really a lie. She hadn't exactly been in control of her actions, and she couldn't remember the details. It was almost, almost like another person entirely had done it.
He laughed again, and she smiled uncertainly in response. "Nine, no. You're a year old, fledgling. Most vampires your adge would have trouble with a gang of schoolchildren, much less the armed, armored, and most importantly, trained, organized city guard."
He reached out to ruffle her hair, laughing again when she reflexively tried to duck out of the way of his descending hand.
"Come, fledgling, help me clean up this mess, hm?"
They made their way into Anvil shortly after dusk, despite Ariel's protests. Martin couldn't explain the sense he had - it was an intuition, he supposed, and his gut had never steered him wrong. The Bosmer girl, this "Alyssia," would be necessary in the coming days. He was certain of it.
Ariel had a word for it. She called it "infatuation."
Martin didn't want to think terribly hard on why he was so focused on the girl. For one, he found it difficult to focus on the question itself. For another -
He spotted her by the city's lighthouse, and pointed her out to his traveling companions. Ariel gave him an odd look, then wordlessly produced a vial of potion, dabbing one drop onto each of her eyelids. It wasn't that dark out, was it?
He shook his head as Ariel gave the vial to Roth.
The Bosmer girl made her way down to the cellar of the lighthouse, producing a key.
"How do you suppose she got that, hm?" Ariel asked it quietly, so as not to draw her attention.
Martin shrugged in reply. "Let's go ask her, hm?"
The reek of gore was overpowering.
A dog sat, panting, at the Bosmer's heel, its mouth bloodied. There was the mark of long violence on the poor animal, and a half-crazed look in its eye, but it seemed calm - for the moment.
Nude bodies were stacked on the cellar's shelves - most had been partially eaten, and all had begun to rot.
The elf stood frozen at the center of the cellar, apparently frozen in place. Martin pushed away visions of Kvatch, walking the handful of steps he needed to reach her. "Alyssia," he murmured.
Her eyes were open wide, unblinking, the pupils shrunk to thin slits. Her nostrils were flared, and her mouth slightly open, putting her small fangs on display.
"Snap out of it, come on."
A voice called to her, serenading, crooning. It pierced the roaring triumph of the beast inside her mind, and she became a person again in bits and pieces, ever so slowly.
"Come on, let's get out of here."
Lyssi shook her head to clear it, holding up a single finger. "Need - book." She managed to bite the words out around the sick feeling in her throat. She'd spotted some kind of a journal, before she'd lost herself. Fortunately, she didn't have to explain herself any further. Understanding dawned in the priest's eyes. He covered his mouth and nose with the sleeve of his robe, peering about. "Is that a head?" He asked it in quiet wonder, and she nodded once.
It was, indeed, a head, set upon a plate, withered and rotted from age. The hair had just recently been brushed, and a careful hand had applied some kind of makeup to its face.
She couldn't focus, couldn't think. All she could hear was Martin's heartbeat, the blood surging through his veins. So much had been spilt and she wanted - needed - a taste. She felt herself shaking, every inch of her quivering like a skooma addict, desperate for a hit.
Martin was the one to spot the leatherbound journal, its pages lying open for anyone to read. Lyssi only just managed to tear her eyes away from his neck as he made his way to the book.
Outside, she could hear the sound of someone retching, and she used that to ground herself, distracting herself, momentarily, from the ravenous hunger.
Pages turned, and she had to stop him. She had to - he would learn everything.
She couldn't let herself get any closer. Martin was the only person still living that she didn't want to have to kill. She couldn't - wouldn't - let a careless mistake jeopardize his life, and she was so hungry.
"Don't," she asked, instead. There was a note of pleading in her voice she couldn't help.
Finally, she let herself glance back in his direction - surely looking wasn't so bad, was it? She wouldn't lose control just staring at him, the way his pulse jumped and danced in his throat - no. She dragged her gaze up to his face. His mouth was set in a hard, angry line as he read.
She refused to force him, but ... it was the only way, wasn't it?
He paused then, to look from the book to the carnage. His eyes settled on her, and his expression cut her like a knife. The disgust - the betrayal. He kept his voice even, but only barely. "I healed you - I trusted in you ... you monster. Is this why you needed to get to Anvil?"
She hadn't meant for him to follow her this far. "I ..."
"You what? This looks ... bad, Alyssia." He gestured at the severed head, laughing a bit bitterly. "You're a vampire. This ... is this your lair? Your home? Is that your mother?" He pointed at the severed head. "She's dead. You might have noticed."
She shook her head, just staring at him blankly. His heart was racing with his anger, and it was impossible to think with such a distraction. He threw the book at her, and she caught it in numb fingers, looking down at it in confusion. What?
"So that's it. You needed to get back, to ... what? Finish disposing of the bodies? Feed? This is revolting." He stormed toward the door, indignation in his every step. "Never speak to me again."
"I - no - listen - "
He whirled toward her again. "So you can fill my head with lies?" His eyes were like chips of ice. "Why can't I remember our first meeting, Alyssia? Is that even your real name, vampire?" She fell silent, staring down at the ground, hugging the book to her chest.
At her heel, the dog growled slightly.
She felt tears welling up, but she pushed them back, swallowing heavily. "This isn't my work." Her voice sounded tiny, even to her own ears, strong as they were.
He folded his arms. "So. Why can't I remember."
"I didn't mean - " She shook her head again, swiping at her eyes.
He laughed a bit, but there wasn't any humor to it. "You didn't mean what? You didn't mean for me to find out?" He threw his hands up in the air. "Well obviously! Why else would you wipe my memory?"
"I didn't want you to know - "
He cut her off, glaring fiercely. "You violated my mind."
She flinched, staring down at the book. "I'm sorry," she mumbled. The tears fell freely. She hung her head; her hair fell in her face, partially masking her shame.
Warmth enveloped her, and she stared up at him shocked confusion. "Nine, girl. I don't know what to do with you at all." One of his hands ran through her hair, and she sensed him giving the carnage one last look. "Just ... if this is all compulsion - no, don't tell me. Not right now."
"You should go," she mumbled into his chest. He was so warm. A tiny bite wouldn't hurt, would it? The beast inside helpfully reminded her of the euphoric high his blood gave. "Should leave me."
There wasn't any conviction to her tone. She didn't want to be alone anymore.
"I'm taking you out of here." His voice was soothing, and she found herself hypnotized. His scent, the call of his blood, overpowered even the stench of the bloated corpses. She'd do anything for another taste. "After that, we can talk, okay?"
She found herself nodding in agreement with whatever he had to say, leaning in for a tiny sip.
"No biting." He swatted her once, like he might an unruly pet. She caught the finger between her teeth, nicking his skin.
It was enough.
Lightning shot through her as the first drops touched her tongue. She suckled just so,running her tongue along the digit in long, sensual strokes. A strangled noise escaped him, and he hastily retrieved his hand.
"No." He said it quietly, strain in his voice. "Not here." Her stomach calmed after only one sip.
Lyssi obliged him, stepping back with a tiny smile.
She had the feeling she'd be smiling more often in the coming nights.
She followed Martin as he quickly vacated the cellar, hugging the book to her chest. She thought she might follow him anywhere ... if only for another bite.