Chapter 220 – Another Option

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A gentle rain began, arriving with a slight strengthening of the wind. The patter on the wood-shingled roof had just enough volume to hide the shaking breath of my companion.

Our location, the observation hut high in an ancient cypress, had very little in the way of amenities. Counters ran along the four walls, under the observation windows. Those were unglazed, and currently had their shutters tightly shut. Triangular openings at each end of the roof with slanted louvers, to provide ventilation while keeping the rain out, added slightly to the light from the small magic lantern sitting on the counter.

 A low table in the middle, rectangular like a coffee table but a pace-and-a-half long, was the only furniture. Based up the height of the counters and windowsills, the crew stood to do their work here. The table was for meals, although it was too long for the small crew this place should require. I suspected it doubled as a cot for naps.

The little stove in the corner was naturally not lit. The place was a little chilly thanks to the rain and wind.

I had to figure out what I was going to do. It was possible I could cure her by feeding on her, if I was right about the blood-charmed state and the fairy-charmed state actually being the same condition. Her clingy behavior would probably be the sexual aggression I would expect from, say, a prostitute, but it was puppy-love hesitant instead when found in a virgin teenager.

And I didn’t know if feeding on her was an option, anyway. People in backwater places like this harbor serious fear of vampires.

Sidis has golden-brown contour feathers instead of human hair. They are just long enough to give her ‘hair style’ a bit of texture and extend down to mid-nape. It makes her look like she’s wearing a swimming cap, except it’s much more attractive. 

Her amber eyes were mostly avoiding looking directly at me, only glancing my way nervously from time to time, but she continued to clutch my hand tightly to her breastbone.

“We should sit,” I told her, tugging slightly at her hands. 

Getting the message, she released them as she nodded to my words, and squatted to pull out floor pillows that were stowed under the table. I went over to investigate the stove, wondering if there was any fuel.

To my surprise, rather than a wood-burning stove that it was constructed to resemble, it was actually a magic tool. And a high-quality one, with a normal magic stone, not one of those spirit stone oddities that Sidis had described to us.

I had seen many such tools in Greenwater Fen, with high quality magic stones as their cores. The talking stones, the magic weapons carried by Amaga archers, the display tools used in the command tent… and of course Lord Moram’s massive barrier, the equal of Orestanian military facilities and fairy constructs. It made me wonder why they were running blockades to get those crude pieces of low-grade ore to make the imitations she described. 

Now wasn’t the time to ask about that.

Before I could ask, she told me, “I’m not familiar with how to operate it using the stored mana, but it will turn on automatically if you charge it with Fire mana.”

I had plenty of Fire in my core, thanks to having used none during the fight. I poured it into the stone, and the stove immediately became warm.

I returned to the table, where Sidis had spread several floor pillows and sat. I sat down beside her.

Like a magnet, she moved to my side and clutched my arm. I gave her a rueful smile and she looked down as she recognized what she had just done.

“My cousin is an idiot,” I told her, stroking her feathered head with my free hand to soothe her nerves. “She doesn’t really understand how embarrassing this is for a young mortal maiden. Which, from what you said, you still are.”

She nodded, blushing deeply and still looking down.

“And I’ll bet, before you ran into me, it was boys you were thinking about, not other girls.”

Her blush deepened.

“Is there one in particular?” I asked.

She glanced at me and back down, then tightened her grip on my arm.

“…maybe.”

“Well, I’m also still a maiden, and I’m not eager to change, but I would rather you go back to thinking about him, instead of me. We have to find a way to make that happen.”

She bit her lower lip. “My Lady, what if I don’t want to go back? What if I like this better?”

I stroked her cheek. “I’ll bet the Sidis before I used magic on her wouldn’t have liked it better. And wouldn’t be thinking about dangerous things like me.”

She looked up at me. “Dangerous?”

“I’m half fairy, and the other half is just as dangerous. A mortal girl should be very wary of me. Especially a young maiden. You are my natural prey, Sidis.”

She stared at me with a slight crease to her brow. Then she grew a slightly crooked smile. “I don’t even know what a girl does with another girl, My Lady. You don’t have something to do it with, right?”

I crooked an eyebrow and held up my fingers. “I have these.”

That drew a sort of deer-in-headlights stare, then a tip of the head.

“Come on,” I chided. “You do it to yourself once in a while, right? Using your fingers?”

Her blush returned as she finally understood. She looked away.

“Well?” I prompted.

“You really expect me to answer that?” she cried. “What about you? Admit that you do it, first!”

I wanted to tell her that the fact she knew what I was talking about was as good as admitting it. At the moment, I was too busy blushing and refusing to say anything incriminating, though.

The original Tiana did it, too. I have her memories. Don’t judge me.

She was still clutching my arm, with a strong grip. And looking away to hide her face.

Cute.

I stroked her head again, then asked, “What do you want me to do, Sidis? My cousin is right about needing to cure you.”

She said something so soft, I’m sure she didn’t expect me to hear it. But with my hearing, it was impossible for me to miss.

“Kiss me.”

That much, I knew how to do. I slipped my hand down to cup her jaw and turned her head toward me, claiming her lips.

It was a very nice kiss, and even had moments of touching tongues. Color me surprised.

I let go of her mouth and smiled. “Maiden or not, you’ve done this before.”

I closed again, choosing to see this time if she had some idea what to do with her tongue. She definitely had some idea what to do with her tongue.

She dropped her head slightly, then confessed with upturned eyes, “My best friend taught me.”

“‘Taught you’?” I asked with a grin. “Was that the excuse he used?”

“My best friend is a girl…” she said, looking away. “She decided to teach me after her cousin taught her how to do it.”

I didn’t believe for a minute that this teaching session was a platonic act. There’s no way that girls would go as far as french kissing in the name of practice, right?

“That friend probably has feelings for you,” I advised her. “If you aren’t ready to respond to those feelings, then you’d better not practice with her any more.”

Her eyes grew. She understood what I meant. But then she dimpled. “You’re pretty skillful for a virgin yourself, aren’t you?”

I colored, then said, “Yes, let’s talk about that. In the name of honesty, I need to tell you about me before we do any more.”

She sobered. “This is something about that dangerous other half, right? You’re a fairborn, but Lady Dilorè mentioned your father having powers, too.”

With a nod, I asked, “Do you have a guess what he was?”

After looking down, then looking away, then looking down again, she asked, “He was some kind of monster, right?”

It wasn’t surprising that she guessed. Her tribe coexists with monsters, and she has a half-sister who is one. I nodded.

“He was a vampire, Sidis.”

Her eyes grew wide again, but she didn’t let go. She simply held on and stared at me. I could tell from her reaction that she had a very real fear of vampires, as was typical for rural mortals. Her continued grip on my arm was solely due to her charmed state.

“I believe that your condition, being fairy-charmed, is the same condition as being blood-charmed by a vampire. I won’t explain why I believe that, but being half of each gives me a unique perspective on the subject. And that gives us an option.”

She simply kept staring at me. I succumbed to the temptation and took her lips for another kiss.

Good. She wasn’t petrified. No, I would describe this tongue as quite enthusiastic.

I let go again, and now I could clearly hear her deep breaths over the patter of rain. It was a bit distracting how her chest rose and fell with those breaths…

There was a distant stroke of thunder, and I frowned.

“I noticed some Aether formations on this place when we arrived. Is it lightning-protected?”

“Huh…?” she seemed confused at the sudden subject change, then recovered. “Oh. Yes. We always protect our trees from lighting. And there are sky stones all over the Fen.”

Sky stones are monoliths similar to the menhir in Europe, stuck into the ground with Aether formations on them. They’re usually found near farms or villages. Basically, they’re magic lightning rods. And actually quite effective. However, it sounded like the bird-kin took an extra step to protect their elevated buildings.

“Are you scared of me, now that you know about my father?”

“I’ve been scared of you since the day I met you, My Lady,” she confessed. “It’s frightening that you made me feel this way just by talking to me.”

“I apologize for that. I never intended what I did to you. I tried to do something I hadn’t done before.”

“Lady Dilorè normally treats you like the senior, but she’s older than you, right? She was speaking like you’re a child.”

“I’m of higher birth, but I’m only fifteen. She’s two hundred something. So, to her, I’m a child.”

“You’re younger than me?” she asked, showing a little surprise. “I’m eighteen.”

She slipped her hand behind my neck and pulled me in for another kiss. Then she asked, “Why did you tell me about your father? About being a vampire?”

“Because I believe I can cure you by feeding on you instead of embracing you.”

“That replaces having sex?” she asked, perplexed.

“For you, it would be pretty much the same, but you would still be a maiden when I’m done.”

She swallowed. “And you won’t make me a thrall?”

There’s no such thing as… I was about to say. Instead, I said. “I won’t.”

“Does it hurt?” she wondered.

“It feels… a bit like using your fingers,” I teased, then sat up and began undoing my blouse.

I don’t know what she thought when I started suddenly undressing, but she said nothing. When I was down to my chemise, she even sat up on her knees, waiting respectfully.

I went ahead and peeled off the stockings I could have probably left on, then shimmied out of the rest.

As I expected, thanks to her condition, she didn’t recoil from her companion suddenly stripping. Instead, she was entranced. Once I was sitting in front of her in the nude, she finally breathed, “So pretty.”

In response, I leaned into her and took her lips again. 

Her blouse was bare in back because of her wings, just like mine. It held together in back at the neck by means of a simple tie. As we embraced, I reached up and undid it. Without hesitation, she slipped her arms out of the sleeves and swept the garment down to her waist, revealing a modest bosom, with delicate teacup breasts like an elven girl.

I gave tender attention to her lips, to her nape, her shoulders and her tips. The entire time, my body was becoming ready for either act, and I still didn’t know which it would be. Just as I had told her, I wanted her to make the choice.

“Shall I take your maidenhood or your blood, Sidis?” I whispered between kisses at her bosom. My fangs were ready for the latter already.

With a smile, she shook her head and put her arms around me, pulling me down onto the cushions. One of her wings curled around behind me and the other covered us like a blanket

“Just hold me,” she whispered back.

We didn’t have any reason to rush, so I let my hands roam as we kissed again, continuing even after her tongue discovered my fangs. After a bit, I realized her hand had begun moving rhythmically.

I understood that this was her answer, of course. She also wanted to keep her virginity, but she didn’t want to become a vampire’s meal. Would doing this count as ‘keeping her virginity’? 

As long as she left herself physically intact, I suppose it depended upon her feelings on the matter.

I kept kissing her and avoided thinking about it beyond that.

- my thoughts:

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Tiana refuses to use 'Command' to cause a potential donor to consent. She has consistently used her powers only after having their willingness (or used them for purposes other than getting consent to feed.)

She also had a tightrope to walk here. It was necessary to avoid overusing the power, because she had no gauge of how much she already blindly affected Sidis with 'fairy charm'.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that a girl who was afraid of vampires and retained her desire to keep her virginity would be searching for another option. The open question now is, did it work?

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