May 9th, 2012 | Published in Haventon Chronicles
The kitchen was large, bright and clean with marble work surfaces and copper pans hanging on the walls. He hadn’t really had time to appreciate the cosy atmosphere on his previous visits, but it was very homey. There was no one else there and David frowned to himself as he tried to remember what had been bothering him. Oh yes, that wine bottle had been unlabelled. He looked in one of the two fridges and found it full of normal food and drink but the other was full of similar bottles, all neatly stacked. He took one out and looked at it.
“It’s cow’s blood.” Leisa said from the doorway. The bottle slipped from his shaking fingers as he whirled to face her. There was a blur and Leisa was standing in front of him holding the bottle. “It’s mixed with wine and a couple of other things to preserve and enhance it. Please be careful with it.”
“You can drink animal blood?” He frowned in confusion. “Then why do…” he trailed off.
“Why do I feed on humans?” she finished for him.
He nodded lamely. “Yeah.”
“Because while I can survive on just animal blood for short periods I can’t live on it. It’s bland and weak and doesn’t sustain us well. That’s the other reason for the additives. They make it taste better. At that I’m lucky, some of us can’t even survive on it.”
“So you need human blood, but you use that stuff to let you space out your hunts?”
“Yes, exactly.” She gave a gentle smile.
He hesitated for a moment before plunging on. “How long can you go without human blood.”
“Safely? About a month and that would not be comfortable. Usually I won’t go over a fortnight if I can avoid it. I once had to go nearly two months on this stuff alone – it was unpleasant.” She smiled at him and gestured to where his beer can sat on the table. “If you want to talk why don’t you sit down?”
He observed her carefully then did as she suggested. Her skin tone was warm and healthy, so she wasn’t hungry. He sat in silence and swigged his beer for a few seconds while he pulled himself together and decided what he wanted to ask. “Does it bother you?”
“What? Having to drink blood? No, not recently. It bothered me at first but you get used to it. What does bother me sometimes is when I have to feed without the donors consent. I know that I don’t do any permanent damage bit it’s still…” she trailed off.
“Only sometimes?” he asked sharply.
“Well, it depends on the circumstances, doesn’t it? I’m rather afraid that for you it’s an occupational hazard.”
“You… I…” Realization struck him like a falling boulder. “That first night after I attacked you wasn’t a dream was it?”
“No.” She grinned at him. “It wasn’t. It doesn’t bother me as long as I can see a reason for it. I just don’t like enticing in a human for a feeding when they haven’t done anything.”
“But sometimes it’s necessary?” The question did not come out as sharply as he had intended. He realised that he was inclined to believe her.
“Sometimes.” She fetched herself a glass and opened the bottle. “Especially at times like this.”
“Oh?” he asked defensively. “Are you trying to say that dodging me is making you feed more?”
“No, it’s not that.” She shook her head in amusement. “It’s just I’ve only been back in Haventon for a few months. It takes a while to build up a circle of contacts you can trust. Once I’ve done that I shouldn’t have to hunt.”
He narrowed his eyes. “Willing donors? Do you know what…” He stopped as he realised that he had been about to mention the Order, and to a vampire at that.
“You don’t need to be coy, David. I know about the Order, and yes I do know what they say about willing donors. That there is no such thing. That they might believe that they are free but they are all entranced and doomed slaves. Sometimes it’s true, especially the former bit. But not always and not in my case. It wouldn’t take nearly so long to build up a circle if I entranced people, but I don’t like doing that. As to the doomed bit, killing’s wrong and there are several other good reasons not to kill apart from that.”
“Several reasons apart from the fact that it’s wrong?”
“Yes, it’s wasteful, careless, messy and attracts attention. Oh and it creates revenants if you aren’t careful.” She shuddered at that. “We aren’t that different from humans, you know. You must have noticed that a decent practical argument for not doing something sways more heads than just telling people it’s wrong.”
“Sometimes anyway,” he conceded. “Some people just aren’t reasonable. What’s a revenant? I thought it was another word for vampire.”
“Technically it’s more generic. Vampires, zombies, ghouls and anything else that apparently dies and then gets up and wanders around is a revenant, but vampires use it to refer to what you and your cousin refer to as ‘zombie-vampires’. They are what happens if someone dies as a result of being fed on, they rise like a vampire but without having drunk their creator’s blood their minds are destroyed by the trauma. Worse they have this tendency to create more of themselves through relentless feeding. Left unchecked it would be like Night of the Living Dead but slower and with blood not brains.”
“That’s a disturbing thought,” he said. It seemed Tanya was right, those things did need dealing with.
“Yes, and I recently learned something disturbing. There’s at least one vampire who’s deliberately making revenants for some reason. He was the one responsible for your sister, but she was feistier than he expected. She must have got herself a mouthful of his blood at some point.” As Leisa said that a pair of slim hands covered his eyes.