Chapter 5: Blood and Blood

I have added an explanation for the "fast-travel" option in the game. I know it's totally not in the world of Tamriel, although I know there was some portal travel possible in Morrowind. However, without it there would be a lot of terribly boring travel that I'd have to fill with adventures and well, I'm just not willing to go there. Hope it isn't too distracting.

On with the show then? Yes?

"I probably shouldn't admit this in polite company," Rowena said. "But I got a nearly sexual thrill out of killing Rufio."

The bard was pale as snow, but didn't reply.

"I'm not sure now, if it was the act of killing or the thought of seeing Lucien again that did it to me," Rowena explained. "But nonetheless, it was exciting. And once the deed was done, I hurried back up into the room I'd rented and tried to sleep."

Rowena cleared her throat.

I thought it was brilliant to just go to bed. If they discovered the body, they'd never expect the pretty elf girl upstairs had anything to do with it. Innocent as a babe, they'd think I was. It was another illusion, but that's what I was good at. I faded in and out of sleep, hoping that I'd wake and see that shadowy figure at the foot of my bed again. It was nearly dawn when I got my wish.

"Ah, my child," the deep voice emanating from the dark hood said. "I am so proud of you."

I grinned. I probably shouldn't have, but I did. Lucien pushed back the hood of his robe. The expression on his face mirrored mine. Like before, he came over to the side of the bed and sat next to me. He didn't so much walk as glide across the room. He reached out one of his narrow fingered hands and cupped my cheek.

"Your initiation is complete," he purred, leaning in close. I could feel his breath on my skin.

"I am yours," I whispered. The place on my face where his hand lay was burning. I was burning. Although Neman was rarely far from my thoughts, when Lucien's skin touched mine, Neman was gone like smoke on the wind.

"You are," he said. His lips brushed my forehead. "Now you must return to Cheydinhal. In the abandoned house at the edge of town, there is what you seek. Go to the basement and to the red door. When asked 'What is the color of night?' you must reply, 'Sanguine, my brother' and you will enter a whole new world."

"Will I see you there?" I panted.

"Perhaps," he replied. "Perhaps not, but I have no doubt you will have plenty to occupy your . . . desires once you are there. Blood and blood," he murmured.

Before I could think of a reply, he kissed my forehead again. His hand slithered down my neck, on to my shoulder and continued sinuously along my arm. Then he stood and pulled his hood up. His face disappeared into shadow as did he.

"Your new family awaits your arrival," his voice echoed into the darkness.

I knew he stood in the shadows and watched me for a time. I could feel him there, even if I couldn't see him. My cheeks were flushed and hot. So hot, in fact, I was surprised they weren't glowing. Slowly the presence I felt faded away. He was gone.

I was entirely too aroused to return to sleep. Instead I rushed back to Cheydinhal. I was glad for my admission into the Mage's guild. They had a way to 'fast-travel' through Cyrodill. As long as one knew the destination, the journey was swift. A portal stone could open a path between places that allowed me to travel more swiftly than even the fastest horse.

I stepped through the portal into the Cheydinhal Mage's Guild and rushed out into the dawn to find the house Lucien had told me of. It was easy to find, and oddly ignored. The guard averted their eyes when they walked past and it was easier than I expected to spell down the lock and disappear inside.

It was dark inside; only tiny shafts of the new sunlight creeping in between the boards covering the windows. I cast 'starlight' and easily wove my way through the broken crates to the door to the basement. It was even darker in the stairwell, but with the light of my spell I could see everything. The stairs were rickety, but surprisingly free of dust. Spider webs clung in every corner, untouched. In the cellar, there was a rough hole cut through the plaster wall, leading into a stone tunnel. Just as I entered, my 'starlight' winked out. The tunnel wasn't lit, but I could see a red glow coming around the corner.

I followed the red light to a stair and the red door. There was a stain of old blood on the floor. My hand gingerly touched the door and a disembodied voice spoke.

"What is the color of night?" the voice asked.

"Sanguine, my brother," I replied as the door swung open. Torchlight spilled into the tunnel. I stepped inside and the door closed behind me on its own. Standing near the door was an Argonian woman with fine violet and grey scales dressed in tight fitting black leather. Behind her, an enormous animated skeleton with a mace and shield lumbered about.

"My sister," the Argonian woman said. "I am so happy to meet you. Lucien told us to expect you." Her voice was like dry leaves brushing across stone. "You are as beautiful as he described," she said.

I smiled, but my voice seemed too far away to use.

"I am Ocheeva," she continued. "And I am the mother of this sanctuary, just as the Night Mother is to us all. I hope that I can make you feel as welcome as you deserve. It is always an honor to bring another dark sister into the embrace of our Dark Lord Sithis."

"Thank you," I replied finally. "I hope I am worthy of the honor."

"I have no doubt you are," she replied. "Lucien is an excellence judge of assassins. Antoinetta!" she called, turning around. A tiny blonde Imperial woman appeared from the shadows to stand at Ocheeva's side."

"This is Rowena Jade," Ocheeva said to her. "She is our new sister. Could you please show her to her bed, and introduce her to the others before you take her to see Vicente for her first contract?"

"Of course," Antoinetta replied. "Come," she said, holding her hand out to me. "There is much to see."

I took her hand and let her lead me inside. The walls of the sanctuary enveloped me like a caress.

"I honestly don't remember what she showed me, although I know that place now as well as I knew my mother's womb." Rowena said. "When I think back to that day, all I remember is Vicente."

"He was the vampire?" the bard asked.

"He was the vampire," Rowena replied. "Not 'a vampire' mind you, 'the vampire.'"

"Weren't you afraid of him?"

"Of course I was," Rowena explained. "But I know now that I am highly intrigued by the things that should frighten me. A man who does not scare me is unlikely to keep my attention for very long."

"But what about Martin? He was the heir to the throne, and as you said, a good and decent man. How could he have frightened you?" the bard asked.

"You're jumping ahead again," Rowena chuckled. "But I will say that you just answered the question in the question."

The bard looked confused.

"Martin was the heir to the throne. He was the Emperor. He was the embodiment of Talos and Akatosh on Tamriel. Trust me, it was frightening," Rowena said. "But again, I don't want to rush things. And Vicente deserves his time. He was certainly worth it."

Antoinetta led me to the heavy doors at the deepest part of the sanctuary. The sun would never reach anywhere in the sanctuary, but this was as far away from it as possible. Antoinetta turned to me at the door.

"This is Vicente Valteri's room," she said. "He gives out the contracts for all the new brothers and sisters. I want to warn you, he's going to scare you. But don't let him."

"Why will he scare me?" I asked.

"You'll see," Antoinetta smirked. "But I'll leave you to find that out on your own." She turned to leave.

"Aren't you coming with me?"

"Not today," she replied. "He's angry with me. And he doesn't like me, for good reason." She laughed. "I wouldn't want to taint your first meeting with him by being here. I have a feeling he is going to like you. He says magic users taste the best." She spun on her heel before I could ask her what she was talking about. I think I knew why the man behind the door didn't like Antoinetta. I didn't like her either.

I knocked on the heavy door with my heart in my throat.

"Come in," a velvety voice said through the door. I recognized the accent immediately. Breton. I pushed the door open just enough to walk through.

"Do close the door behind you," he said. I closed the door and turned to face him. He was sitting at a small table, with his ankle crossed over his knee. Unlike the others I'd met, he wasn't wearing armor, but was dressed all in black. He wore a black silk shirt with an alarming number of buttons undone, showing a lot of pale skin and firm muscle in the vee of the opening. He had long dark air, not unlike Lucien, but his was darker, inky black and shiny as oil. It wasn't tied back, but instead shadowed his face.

He looked up at me and grinned showing a pair of ivory white, wickedly sharp fangs. It took everything I had not to flee. But I did take an involuntary step backward and slammed myself into the closed doors.

"Do not let my appearance alarm you," he said. "My vows to the Dark Brotherhood take precedence over my own needs as a vampire."

"I . . . I'm sorry," I stuttered. "I didn't mean to offend you."

"No offence taken my dear," he replied. "It is to be expected. You will become accustomed to me in time." I nodded mutely. He smiled again, this time keeping his lips closed over his teeth. He stood up, setting his book on the table. He took a step towards me. His hand reached out and cupped my chin. I didn't flinch, although I wanted to. Vicente tilted his head to the side as if he was inspecting me. I was beginning to wonder at this reaction to me. Lucien and Neman had both done the same thing.

"Very nice," he said finally, dropping his hand. "You didn't even move. I look forward to working with you."

"I threw myself into my contracts with a glee that I'm sure pleased Sithis," Rowena said. "I killed with enthusiasm and I continued to hope that I would find Lucien in the sanctuary when I returned. But he was never there."

"Never?" the bard asked.

"Well, once," Rowena said. "However it was while I was out on a contract. Antoinetta certainly gloated that I'd missed him and spent half the night I returned describing in great detail the innuendo and unspoken desire between them. I was jealous, but not as much as I could have been. I did have Vicente after all."

"You had Vicente?" the bard said incredulously. "But he was a monster, he made you into a vampire and forced you to fight for a cure!"

"Ah, another misconception," Rowena said. "Vicente gave me his Dark Gift at my request."

By this time, Vicente was no longer giving me my contracts. They were coming directly from Ocheeva. But I still spent far more time with him than with anyone else. I was usually exhausted when I returned, since I would fulfill a contract and then complete a task for the local Mage's Guide for a recommendation. Vicente found if highly amusing that I would do both at the same time. But he was also intrigued by my ability to blend into the normal world and the bloody world of the Dark Brotherhood at the same time.

I only had to complete the task for Falcar at the local guild to get my admittance into the Arcane University. Once that happened, it would be long time before I could take another contract or return to the sanctuary. I knew it and so did Vicente. But since I hadn't yet mastered the 'Buoyancy' spell I knew I'd need to complete it, we still had time.

I never thought lying on a slab of stone to sleep would be pleasant, but I was mistaken. Of course, when I was there, Vicente would cover the stone with velvet blankets. And he would cradle me against him to cushion me against the hard stone. He forgot about the hard angles of his own body, but I didn't mind.

I was laying on my side, my head pillowed on Vicente's shoulder. We were dressed still and just laying close together, reveling in each other.

"There was a messenger here earlier," Vicente said. "And that can only mean one thing. Lucien has sent sealed orders for someone."

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"Something secret, and highly dangerous, usually," he replied.

"Hm," I muttered. "I wonder who for."

"As long as its not you, I'll be happy," he said softly. He kissed the top on my head and I could feel the hardness of his fangs through this pliable lips.

"Why not?" I asked, turning my face up to look at him. He was gazing down at me. His strange pale orange eyes weren't frightening anymore. They were comforting, like the amber glow of sunset. Unlike those blazing red Dunmer eyes of Neman, those eyes of fiery, destructive passion; Vicente's eyes were like the embrace of coming darkness. Cool and quiet.

"Because I think you are gone enough already," he said. "I'd like to have you to myself for a while."

I grinned. "I'm here now."

"That you are," he purred. His eyes hooded. He pulled me up level with him, kissing my lips. First as soft as a breeze, with cool lips. I opened my mouth and slipped my tongue inside his mouth, running it along the sharp points of his teeth. I loved the feel of those hard, razor sharp fangs.

His hands maneuvered down from the small of my back to my bottom and he pressed me against him. I felt the other hard part I loved rub against me. Groaning slightly, I fumbled with the laces on his pants and hiked my skirt around my waist. Growling deep in his throat, Vicente swung me on top of him. His fingers dug into the sensitive skin on my hips. With a sharp thrust of his hips, he slid inside of me.

I pressed my hands against his shoulders, bracing myself and holding him down against the slab at the same time. Just like he taught me. He'd explained that vampires only passed along the infection when they are distracted. And nothing like sex for distraction. I'd let him feed from me once, after the first time we'd been together. That's when he explained all the details of intercourse with a vampire.

I pushed harder with the heels on my hands, digging them into the hollow of the joint at his shoulder. It hurt; I knew it did. But I also knew that he liked it. He closed his eyes.

"Pain," he whispered. "The best of pleasure."

I moved slowly at first. At first, it seemed no different from the other times I'd lay with him. But as I moved, I realized it was not the same. We both knew this would end, eventually. For me, even as an elf, I was mortal. And he was not. Time was running short before I'd be gone. And for how long? Neither of us could say.

I leaned down and kissed him and he pushed me back with one hand between my breasts.

"Not so close," he murmured, still holding me away, "You are too delicious to resist."

For a moment, I thought of Neman, although Vicente had done much to push him out of my thoughts. We too had very little time. What I wouldn't have given to have found more time. There was never enough time in a mortal life for all I wanted to do, to have, to feel. And then it hit me. It felt like the moon breaking through a bank of clouds. I knew a way I could have all the time in the world; a way I could have as much time as Vicente could ever want me to. To spend with him, and everything else.

I let the pressure on my hands lessen for a moment, and then with a moan, I rolled us over. Still deep inside me, I pulled him on top of me. I wrapped my legs around his waist. He looked down at me with an expression I'd never seen before on his face. Fear.

"I . . . can't," he panted, trying not to move. "I will bite you; I will infect you."

"I know," I whispered. "I want you to. Then we can have forever."

Vicente's eyes glittered. "Do you know what you are asking?"

"I do," I sighed. I tilted my head back and to the side, offering him a tantalizing view of the large artery in my neck. "Do it."

With another growl, of hunger or of passion, his hips thrust against me in a suddenly maddening rhythm and his teeth sunk into the pale, thin skin of my neck. At that moment, I was sure his teeth were more pleasurable and erotic than anything else I'd ever felt before. I screamed, equally pleasure, pain and horror.

With a shudder, Vicente threw his head back. My blood stained his lips a deep carmine red and a tiny trickle of blood ran from the center of his lower lip, down his chin. He howled like a wild feral thing before collapsing on top of me. He lay still for a moment. Then he eased to the side, taking his weight off of me. He buried his face against my neck and kissed the bite marks.

"By Sithis," he murmured, "What have I done?" His voice sounded strangled.

"Only what I asked of you," I replied.

"It still isn't too late," he said, his face still pressed against me. "You have three days to find a healer before you transform."

"I don't want a healer," I said. I pulled back and held his face between my hands. His orange eyes seemed to glow in the candlelight. I studied his face. The sharp lines of the bone made plain by his vampirism, the temporary flush of my blood in his system and the long dark lashes around his eyes. "Vicente?" I asked.

"Yes, love?" he said softly.

"What color were your eyes, you know, before?"

"Blue," he replied.

"Ah," I said. "The orange suits you better."

"I only hope it will suit you as well," he said. "I will miss your namesake jade colored eyes. Like the sunlight through leaves, as best I can remember anyway. You will miss the sun, eventually. Although that won't likely happen to you for a good long while."

"Orange eyes," I pondered. I laughed suddenly. "They'll match my hair!"