Aryen is © Blake McLean (No, not my boyfriend, actually an ex. Yes, I've dated two Blakes and it can be confusing.)
Ileta is © Me.
All Lodoss elements (mention of Forcelia and Falis) are © Ryo Mizuno and Group SNE.
Ileta slept in a strange barely-conscious dream as she hovered between life and death. The same themes looped in her mind, now which she could barely comprehend. As she woke, her body felt odd. Somehow hollow and cold. Not cold on the outside, but on the inside, and it wasn't uncomfortable, it was just there. As her eyes flickered open, she was greeted by a close view of her ceiling, but she wasn't actually close to it. She could see it's details as clearly as if she were sitting not but a few inches away. It was rather strangely lit, sort of as if dusk were falling, but not quite. Places that were usually shadowed, she could see. She was weak and felt hungry, but it wasn't the sort of hunger she was familiar with. Her mouth had a metallic taste in it, the taste of blood which she was used to only tasting when she cut her lip, or had some sort of wound in her mouth, and now, she craved it.
Last night....I was bitten by a vampire, Ileta thought, but that couldn't be true. That couldn't happen to her. Maybe it was a dream. Her hand moved up to her neck as she thought, and she was shocked to feel a crust of dried blood on her skin. She felt further to find two bumps on her neck, like old, healed over scars. Aryen had bitten her, and then given her his blood from a cut in his wrist. She couldn't remember much beyond that except that she was certain she died.
The barmaid sat up in bed, skin and hair ripping apart from the dried blood on her sheets and pillow, and she scanned her room with her improved vision. Sitting across the room from her bed in her chair was the beautiful man she brought home and who sunk his fangs into her throat, now fully dressed and staring at her intently with sharp blue eyes peering out from beneath his black bangs, his long fingered hand over his mouth. From behind his hand, she could see the corner of his lips pull up in a smirk.
"So you are awake. How do you feel?" he asked, leaning back in the chair. He seemed curious and intrigued.
"What...did you do to me?" Ileta said softly, afraid of what he might do to her now, and she drew her blanket protectively around her. Yet, she felt she could trust him, she felt...connected to him. The vampire stood and walked to her beside, seating himself on the edge. His eyes met hers, capturing her in his gaze. Was that how he seduced her? Not that it was ever hard to seduce Ileta, but within moments of meeting him, she had walked out of work, forgot all prior arrangements and brought him home. Looking back, she recalled that he had a predatory light about his eyes, but now, they were gentle and curious. Almost innocent in a way.
"I have given you the gift that was placed upon me, eternal life," Aryen replied.
Ileta couldn't believe what he said. Eternal life? Vampires were immortal, weren't they. She had never considered it a gift, more like a curse. Doomed to walk Forcelia for eternity, feeding off mortals and condemned by the gods. Maybe they saw it differently. "A...gift? You...made me a vampire?" Ileta whispered and broke her gaze from Aryen's.
The vampire nodded, which she saw from the corner of her vision. "Yes, most think of it as a cursed life, but yet there is so much more to it," he said softly. He leaned forward and reached for her neck, placing a finger up on the scars on her neck. Despite the situation, his touch was electric, causing a tingle to spread up the back of neck. The thought of still being attracted to that blood-sucking monster appalled her conscious mind, and she denied the attraction. He changed her life forever, and not in any way she would have wanted. "You are the first I've made before," he added in a whisper of awe. And when he said that, in that soft voice, Ileta's barrier of defiance slipped just a little more.
"Why me? Why did you do this to me?" she whimpered. Reality had been slowly seeping into her, though she fought hard against it as it soaked in. Pressure was building in her throat and behind her eyes, threatening to cry. A few tears leaked from her eyes, but she suppressed the rest. Aryen shook his head, as if speaking to a child who was ignorant of the truth. When he looked up, he saw the tears slowly gliding down her cheek and brushed them away with his slim forefinger. Another small, yet significant action that chipped away at her barrier and raised further confusion in her feelings for him. By all rights, she should hate him, but something inside her yearned to be close to him.
"I did this to you because you are worthy of this gift, so I gave it to you," he replied confidently.
"I'm not worthy..." she started, and stopped. Why wasn't she worthy of this curse he kept calling a gift? "I didn't want this," she said, as if to replace her first comment. He looked away from her, and Ileta thought he was disappointed, or maybe wounded by her words. Why should she care if he was disappointed in her? He ruined her life for Falis' sake! But what sort of life do I have that's so important? Tend bars my entire life and handing out favors to men in back alleys? Ileta thought. Aryen actually was interested in her pleasure the night before, most men only cared as long as they got off. But then, they didn't drink her blood.
Aryen looked to her again, a gentle smile on his lips. Behind those lips were a pair of sharp fangs Ileta was better acquainted with that she would have liked to be. “I will take care of you. Trust me, you will learn to like this way of life. I will teach you everything that was taught to me by my creator,” he spoke assuringly.
All his talk about teaching her and taking care of her was overwhelming. She was just barely coming to grips with being a vampire—which she couldn't quite accept at this point. There was no denying that she changed from what he had done, she could feel it inside her. Her senses were sharper and...she craved blood. She was weak and knew that she was hungry, though it wasn't her stomach telling her so. It was more...instinct. Ileta knew how vampires fed--that much was obvious from what she had learned from stories--she would have to kill to sustain herself. "I'm...I'm hungry, I think," she said softly, avoiding his gaze.
"Then you should feed. It's the first, most important step,” Aryen replied. Feed. He makes it sound so natural and innocent, she thought. Aryen stood, extending his hand to help her to her feet. Another chip in the barrier, seeing him above her, so eager to help and guide her. “Let us go find you a suitable victim," he said, waiting for her to take his hand. The barrier was built up again. Ileta drew her legs close to her body and wrapped her arms around her knees.
"I've never killed a person before...I've only hurt people when I need to protect myself, I don't know if I can," she said, avoiding his eyes. She didn't want to see him disappointed again. Why did she care so much if he was disappointed?
"Trust me, once the time comes, you will understand everything," he persuaded. "Now we must get going, if you are hungry then you must satisfy the thirst."
Ileta worried the blanket at her knees, unable to get herself to stand yet. Could she do this? Vampires had to kill to survive. But did she want to live like this? Why not just starve herself? Aryen wouldn't let her, of that she was sure. He couldn't let the first vampire he made just starve herself to death. He cared about her, or else he would have sucked her dry and left her to die. Almost without thinking of her movement, Ileta turned and swung her legs over the side of the bed, still modestly wrapped in a blanket. She was not commonly a modest woman, but she felt the need for some sort of protection. "I still have blood on my neck," she said, feeling the dry crust as she moved.
Aryen smirked, lightly amused, “It's not the best thing to leave on yourself,” he agreed, then looked about her room. Spotting a pitcher of water on her dresser, he went to fetch it and brought it back to her. He slipped his hand in, bringing out a handful of water, then poured it down the side of her neck. Aryen's fingers brushed her skin softly and washed away the blood.
Ileta trembled and arched her neck to the side as the last barrier of her mind crumbled with his intimate gesture. The new vampiress stood--Aryen's eyebrow raised in pleasant surprise and his hand remained on her neck—met her sire's gaze for a brief moment before allowing the blanket to fall from her shoulders and to the floor. Her arms wrapped around his slim waist and she pulled herself close, resting her head on his opposite shoulder. Aryen paused his work for a moment, quite shocked by her reaction. Ileta closed her eyes and his hand began to caress her neck again, occasionally leaving her skin to wet it with more water.
She breathed his scent in deeply, it was so much more acute than she could recall. He had no body odor unlike most men, besides her scent, but beneath hers, and the smell of blood, his skin smelled clean. It was amazing how she could pick out these scents. Maybe being a vampire wasn't so bad. "Tell me about the one who made you...were you scared?" Ileta whispered against his neck.
"Of course I was scared, but yet I accepted it after I thought about it," he replied. Ileta listened to the soothing baritone reverberate in his chest as he spoke. His hand moved from her neck to her shoulder. What blood he had left in her had pooled not only behind her neck, but down her shoulder and back while her body wrestled with life, death and eventually settling on un-death in the last few hours since he had bitten her.
"I'm sure you didn't have much of a choice," she said in a strange combination of sympathy and bitterness. She breathed in deeply. She could smell her blood and another's in his veins, the scent seeping through his pale skin. It made her mouth water. "Why were you...chosen?"
"I didn't really have much of a choice, but I was chosen because she thought I had the will to survive as I am now," he replied. He paused, involving himself in cleansing her shoulder and back. "I...apologize..." he said lowly.
Ileta didn't reply. He had every reason to apologize, and how could she forgive him? What was done was done, but with the coaxing of a voice somewhere within her mind she realized she was only at the beginning of a new life. She couldn't judge it's outcome yet. There was no way she could accept his apology, but the fact he said it did do some good. He was truly sorry, she knew it, but she had nothing her pride would allow her to say. Instead, she nuzzled against his throat. She heard Aryen sigh before he wrapped his arms around her and held her. A kiss was placed on her scars, and if she had any resistance left, it was shattered. She was very aware of just where he kissed her, and as she opened her eyes to examine his neck, she saw no scars of the puncture that made him what he was.
"Will that go away? My scar?" she asked. His head slowly moved against hers in a nod, silken black hair sliding against her blonde hair. His wet hand moved off her back to scoop another handful of water that he poured into her hair to wash away the blood.
Aryen replied, “After you feed, the blood will rejuvenate you, giving you the ability to regenerate.” Ileta only nodded. The scent of blood in his veins was tempting her to bite into his neck, and the dwindling voice of betrayal was screaming from a distance to get revenge, but she restrained herself. She didn't want to break the moment. Taking deep breaths to control herself, Ileta relaxed under Aryen's ministrations. Where they would go from here would no doubt be a long, hard journey, but Ileta just wanted to enjoy the moment.