“He hasn’t heard anymore about the Baroness’s injury?” Ameli asked.
Dafyr shook his head. “Maybe whoever did it ran away or was killed. The boy’s not psychic. He only knows about the injury because of being a thrall.”“And don’t forget that, Dafyr. Thrall, not child. If the Baroness ordered him to slit all our throats, including yours, he’d do it, and those eyes wouldn’t show the least sign of regret.”He stood angrily. “Don’t you think I know that, ‘Meli? I’m reminded of it every time I talk to him. I still can’t believe we’re dealing with creatures who would do that to a child.” He raised a hand to forestall her response. “Yes, I know why we did it. Magicians taking over the country and all that. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
Mad Jarrel ran into the room. “You need to come. The boy screamed and now he’s in hysterics. It’s really quite discomfiting.”
Dafyr and Ameli exchanged glances. He asked, “Have you gone to the Queen with this?”
“Your grandmother sent me to get you. She said you’d be the best one for this, considering how much time you’ve spent with the child.”
“I’ve never seen you this serious,” Ameli said. “Exactly how bad is it, Jarrel? Should we go armed?”
“Yollo’s on guard still. I’m simply worried for him.”
They both nodded and simultaneously said, “I can understand that.” Startled, Dafyr shot looks at Ameli, who didn’t look nearly as surprised by his reaction.
The thrall...the boy...Louis...was laughing and crying at once, sitting on his ostanious bed in an ornate room. When he saw Dafyr, he rushed forward. Dafyr took a step back, and his hand dropped to the silver dagger at his waist.
But it wasn’t an attack. Louis hugged him, a wide smile on his face. “She’s dead,” he whispered.
Ameli gasped, but Dafyr took a moment to sort through it. “Who’s dead?” Then it dawned on him. “The Baroness?” He pushed aside his discomfort at seeing what looked like a ten year old boy so happy at someone’s death.
The boy nodded. “When a Nosferatu dies, all her thralls go free.” He giggled a little. “It’s quite painful, but so wonderful.” His face fell. “Then the thralls turn into full Nosferatu. That’s what I have to look forward to.”
Ameli said delicately, “Are all Nosferatu like the Baroness? And...is it a biological need that makes them that way?”
“They aren’t. There are some that are thralls in all but name, and some who prefer to hide away in their towers reading. But the military warlords have the most power. And...” He glanced down at his feet. “The need to feed...it is a biological imperative. Only once a month, but the first feeding...It is required very soon after one becomes a Nosferatu.” He looked up at Dafyr, who took a step back. Something in his eyes then showed exactly how old the supposed child was. “Kill me.”
Dafyr took another step back, then realized he was standing in the hallway. He blushed, but asked anyway, “Why?”
“The need to feed will eventually become uncontrollable. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I will become blinded with bloodlust. I’ve seen it happen with other newly become Nosferatu when the Baroness killed those who made them thralls.” His expression darkened. “She usually would let them work themselves up into a blood craze, then let them drink from me or one of the other thralls. Thrall blood is still close enough to human to serve.”
He tried not to think about the implications of what Louis said too much, but it was unavoidable. He decided to go with the currently most dangerous bit of speech. “There are other thralls. How many?”“Hundreds. She liked turning people. Hundreds of thralls that are now becoming Nosferatu. They’ll need to feed soon, too, and they’re out there in the countryside. The Baroness was cruel, manipulative, and insane, but she did keep those thralls thralls. Now...” He trailed off. The despair and bitterness in his voice was evident.
Dafyr knelt on the floor so that he was at Louis’s level. “I’m not going to kill you unless I have to, Louis. Do you have to feed from people until they’re dead?”
“Unless they’re thralls, yes. Thralls have something different in our-their blood that makes it possible to stop.”
Dafyr didn’t let it show how much this information disheartened him. “We’ll figure something out. I have to admit, we have some ulterior motives here too. You’re the best insight we have into the minds of the Nosferatu.” He frowned. “Jarrel, Yollo, I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to keep your guarding up. Keep Louis’s door locked, for your sake and his.”They moved to follow orders, and he and Ameli walked down the hallway to go see the Queen. When they were out of Jarrel and Yollo’s hearing, she turned to him and slapped him across the face. “Are you insane?”
I sighed, leaning my head on my hands. I applauded your action, Sylvaris, but...hundreds of Nosferatu? Damn. I am in trouble. Still, I suppose it could be fun.
The trickle of sand in the hourglass behind me causes me to turn. I shiver as the neck of the glass widens to allow a huge amount of sand to pass through before it narrows again. Perhaps not.
I need to create a successor soon, who can deal with this problem instead of me.