Exile (Book II in The Elder Origins series): Novella (9 page)

BOOK: Exile (Book II in The Elder Origins series): Novella
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“No,” she replied quietly. “I’m thinking upon how we will live in years to come.”

“As gypsies perhaps, never settling. Is that what you fear? We can partake in any place we fancy and stay as long as we wish it.”

“I don’t wish to settle anywhere again, not for any true length of time,” she said.

“Why is that?”

“My first and second homes were destroyed, and the third I left willingly. I don’t think I could ever be happy in one place. And as you said, we will frighten anyone who truly sees us for what we are. If they were to know us for any length of time, dangers could arise.”

“For them, not for us,” he said.

“You don’t know that. Neither of us truly know of our limitations,” she said. She wasn’t willing to believe just yet that they were truly impenetrable.

“Then we move by nightfall and feed by nightfall, as you said. We are agreed on a set path. We never stay in one place for too long, we move consistently, and we keep to the night for our physical needs.”

“Do you think you can wait that long at present?” she asked sincerely. The only thing she feared more than his aggression aimed at a nearby victim at this point was how desperate Jayden may become during his eventual feed. “I don’t want more blood spilt than need be. We must not leave a trail.”

“It will be difficult to mask discovery once we begin to feed on people, mistress. Their wounds will all look alike. From that alone fear will spread, as you claim,” he said.

“Perhaps we should feed upon people whilst they sleep,” she suggested.

“Don’t you think you would awaken from something such as that?”

“Our touch can calm people, Jayden. We witnessed it with the natives. Should we touch people while they take rest, they may continue to sleep as we take what we need. And only what we need,” she said sternly.

He nodded his head in agreement. “They will still awaken to see wounds upon their body.”

“By that time we must leave. No one the wiser, and for all anyone should know, they might have walked in their sleep and had an unfortunate accident. We must be discreet. Perhaps even by making small cuts rather than biting as we have in the past. Thus the marks are less traceable,” she said now looking at him.

A sly smile appeared on his face as she spoke to him. He seemed satisfied with this plan.

“We can do this,” she continued. “We can live like this if we are to remain hidden.”

The arrogant yet mischievous look crossed his face once more. She hadn’t seen it since they left. She thought her violent action on the ship had bruised his manly ego. But he appeared the same way he had when she first met him. Self-assured and eager, as though he was ready for any encounter should it come naturally or if he be the one to cause it.

“You still have the bag the healer gave you?” he asked.

“Yes, it’s here.” She had been quick enough to tie it to her ankle and securely tighten it before the ship saw its final day. She loosened it and brought it to her lap reaching for the large jug inside.

“I think it’s time we made use of the materials if it works as you claim the healer intended.”

“Indeed. Here are the necklaces the healer gave us.” She revealed them and handed one to him. She placed them in the sack just before their long swim, thinking it safer than wearing them. The pieces were colorfully beaded with strands dangling down from a single pouch attached. Jayden examined his and placed it around his neck. The pattern was distinct to the design he saw around the native camp. The natives placed it on their weapons and their skins. The occasional tent was also painted with it to show the leaders of their tribes resided in a particular lodging.

“I took the liberty of placing more of the material the healer gave us inside, should either of us come across an unperceived enemy,” she said.

“You think the Vam-pyr-ei-ak spirits are among us, do you?” he mocked her.

“No, but the healer seemed to believe that we would need it. That’s reason enough for me. Perhaps it will prevent others from suspecting our true form, or so he lead on.”

“Our appearance gives us away, mistress.”

“Well, he seemed to believe otherwise,” she said. “If others exist like the healer, those who are intuitive and spiritual as he was, then we may be in danger of truly being discovered. Our appearance isn’t natural, this I know. But if we are to portray ourselves properly amongst others, they will have no true fear to reject us on sight.”

“You don’t know many Englishmen, do you?” he sneered.

“It is only a precaution, Jayden. Neither of us can predict what we will come across or how many people will be taken back by our violet eyes or our pale complexion. For all they know, we are merely travelers.”

“Travelers, or gypsies, we will not be trusted,” he said.

“Then you agree with me, we must tread softly. We mustn’t create a huge stir, and we feed by nightfall.”

Madison knew that he could understand the seriousness in her voice, and the measures they needed to take to not appear mysterious in any way.

“Agreed.”

Chapter 6

 

Night fell upon the grassy hills before them. It didn’t take great effort for Madison to listen out for any life within the region. Sounds of a tavern closing down and drunken men leaving to return to their clay and wooden built homes was one of many sounds Madison could clearly recognize. Drunken men stumbled about, barely leading one foot in front of another. She failed to make out their language clearly, but she knew enough by the scent of the tavern as she approached it to know that the men weren’t in any state to struggle. They would soon sleep from their take of hot wine.

It wasn’t until she traced them home, choosing one gentleman who appeared somewhat more unstable than the others, that she noticed something foul permeating the air. It was a scent she had grown accustomed to after Jayden’s pillaging of the Vam-pyr-ei-ak. But never had it been this profound or revolting. The smell took her back a pace. Her face contorted. It was strong enough for even a mortal’s sense of smell to quickly grow disgusted.

Bodies.

Death resided here.

And it was abundant. Not certain if she wanted a closer look or not, she allowed herself to be guided to where the scent originated. Within yards of the neighboring meadow and only a distance from the tavern, lay a large hole in the earth. A man in a rank thickly oiled cloak and a mask of a bird beak stood before it, shoveling bits of dirt into a gaping wound in the ground. Madison approached it and peered inside. Bodies were stacked on top one another, arms and legs splayed in all directions. There lay at least twenty. Men, women, and children, all completely drained of life. Their complexions were as pale as hers with eyes wide open. The man filled the hole clumsily, throwing dirt in where ever it may land. She could smell their disease from where she stood.

The man turned and saw her. Flies flew around him as he moved. The bird beaked demon mask was suddenly staring directly at her. He shouted words she didn’t understand, and thrust his arms about for her to leave. His tone was harsh and forceful, although she didn’t need to be told to leave. She ran away faster than she had intended. Her speed left the man behind her in a daze. She reacted purely from instinct. The wind was littered with the stench as she ran. She understood what it was. She had only ever heard of it from stories of what took place in neighboring villages. Never had she seen it herself.

“Did you find their lodgings?” asked Jayden as she approached. “Hopefully we can find a pair with suitable clothing as well. We cannot run around in these native clothes without being noticed as a bit… peculiar.”

He then felt her alarm strike his senses. It seemed almost violent as she drew nearer. “What is it, mistress?”

“A sickness. This village is dying. It’s taken many already.”

“But you said you heard them in the tavern. They were having a grand time.”

“They’re awaiting death, Jayden. They’re merely drinking away their sorrows. Their loved ones are in a nearby mass grave. They lay completely lifeless,” she said, her voice morose as though her own loved ones were inside the gaping hole dug into the earth.

“Then no one should suspect foul play. We can take our drink as we need it. We drink from those who remain healthy and move onward,” he said. He was relieved to know that there was already a culprit of death in the region as it would cause less attention to be drawn to them.

“Their streets are filled with filth and rubbish like I have never seen,” she said.

“That is how confined villages are, mistress. Dirty and unsightly. Grime often fills the streets from human waste. How did your previous village handle theirs? I doubt it was any different.”

“We were on the coast. The sea took such things away.”

“Other villagers are not always as fortunate or near fresh waters.”

“But the sea here is only a mile away. They could easily do away with such things. The sea would take it from them.” Her disgust clearly showed in her expression.

“Maybe they cannot be bothered. Especially if they soon expect to meet death,” he said.

“There was a man digging a large grave. He wore a heavy cloth. It was dripping in oil. Flies were drawn to it. And his mask, how could it possibly ward away evil as he stood just above death?”

“Perchance it was not meant to ward away evil. Especially if you were approaching him,” he said with sarcasm.

“But then why would he wear it?” she asked, not bothering to respond to his lack of civility.

“If he were a grave digger, I imagine it was meant to ward off those who still live. And someone must rid this world of deathly corpses.”

He felt her doubts rising. It was no longer mere apprehension. “What of it? What affects you so?” he asked, as though he were genuinely concerned for her distress.

“It is as though we never left. We have been in lands completely unknown to us, and now sickness overtakes those around us again,” she said wearily.

Jayden looked at her sternly and walked over to her. “We take our fill of blood tonight after those men pass out from their take of wine. Then we go far from here. This is a small village. If many have not travelled, and if the sickness kills quickly, we will find lands of healthy people not far away.”

Madison glared at Jayden, her gaze not leaving his. She suspected that he wanted her to remain calm. The thought of more sickness was clearly her weakness. He knew her thoughts lingered on Jamison and his desperate and final moments.

“I know what you’re thinking and you’re wrong,” he said, stepping closer to her. He took her shoulders into his large hands, their width nearly covering the length of her. Her eyes didn’t falter from his.

“This is not our home. You are not to lose another home to fire, sickness, or death. We will move onward and continue doing so,” he said, taking the back of her head into his hand to bring her closer to him. She could feel his breath on her skin, and a rare empathy in his emotions. “I will get you away from here,” he continued, his voice grave with each word.

Everything around Madison turned silent. All she could sense was what Jayden was feeling and the heaviness of his hands upon her shoulders, his grip behind her freely loose hair.

“Come now,” he muttered. “Let us get out of these native clothes. They nearly put the stench here to shame.”

Madison walked quietly behind him. For the first time, she realized the true sentiments coming from Jayden. She only felt it when he touched her. He buried it so deep that she couldn’t take note of it before. Even when he caressed her shoulders and ran his thumb down the back of her hair as he let her go, it still wasn’t blatantly obvious.

Compassion. It was nearly tender, the kind of tenderness she only knew Jamison capable of. Jayden’s indifference and cruelty weren’t there when his sentiments came upon her. There was only good will and a desire to have her near. But she knew better than to think that it would ever make itself pronounced. Or so she assumed.

“Just there,” said Jayden, pointing forward as they approached the tavern. Two horses stood sleeping with ropes restraining them to a metal bar on the outside wall.

“If they be dead soon, mistress, they will have no need of these beasts,” he said, his sarcasm already returning.

“We can move faster on foot,” she insisted.

“Was it not you who suggested we remain discreet? If we ride, we don’t appear of note,” he said.

Madison merely nodded in response. She walked to the animal before her and stroked its side. As she lifted herself on its back, she could feel the life coming from under her. It was a different feeling than what she found within the ocean. The ocean contained life. Whereas the horse thrived upon it. It was a creature that contained a whole new meaning for her now. Before it had been a means of transport forced on her by Jamison. She knew them as an animal that ran too fast and stood too tall. Now she knew she could relish in the animal’s strength.

Chapter 7

 

Hours passed into the night after they left the small village, having taken their feed from the drunken men as quietly as possible. Drinking from those who slept proved the ideal method over the course of the following days.

Jayden always rode his horse behind her, just as he had when they ran or swam together. For a moment, Madison wondered if this was his way of insuring that she would encounter danger first as he had teased before. But something told her it was quite the opposite. He wanted her within his sight.

BOOK: Exile (Book II in The Elder Origins series): Novella
9.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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