Arken studied me for a moment, his eyes glowing slightly, which meant he was checking the state of my mana. I used fairy sight for this, but elves use a form of light magic. I was accustomed to seeing it; he had done it regularly throughout my childhood.
Finally, he nodded. “Flying uses too much mana. If you’re going to be flying long distance often, you need to increase the frequency of your feedings, to build a better reserve.”
Vampires, succubi, and other monsters channel far more mana than they are capable of naturally stabilizing. They need to consume stabilized mana in order to keep their internal reserve under control and prevent it from developing into miasma. Monsters can’t help but have miasma in their body; it could actually kill them if it were all removed. But they can’t have too much, either.
There are many natural sources of stabilized mana other than mortal races, but most are either weak or unfit for consumption, and a higher powered monster such as a vampire or succubus can only get temporary relief from them. They need a strong source, like a mortal. And the more often they use magic, the more often they need it.
Other lawful monster species do have the option to use magic items that a human mage has charged for them, and gnomes actually get by entirely on the high-mana plants that they grow. A few, like ogres and giants, don’t need to consume mana very often, which is good, because those species’ natural means of obtaining it is by consuming their prey alive. So they too can, if they are diligent, manage via high-mana plants, although it has to be a significant percentage of their diet. Not surprisingly, lawful ones often make their living by agriculture.
But vampires have no options. We need it often and can only obtain it through the blood of those who can fully stabilize ample mana on their own. In other words, intelligent mortals and magic species. The magic items and high-mana plants and other means just don’t help us.
“As soon as Melione gets back, I’ll go looking for one,” I said.
“Hm. That could be a problem. You did notice how much effort we’re making to stay out of sight, didn’t you?”
I had been about to say, “I was wondering why you were doing that,” but I chopped off as I heard sounds in the hall. Going to the door, I put my pendant to my forehead and saw the pink light approaching. Lute’s distinctive tap came, and I let them in. They had brought back bread rolls and roasted yams.
When I waved off the roll she offered me, Melione became concerned about my health. I explained, in a low voice so Lute couldn’t hear, “I need to go… looking for a different food.”
She was confused for a moment, then comprehension dawned. “Oh.”
Arken gestured Melione over and spoke to her for a bit, and I saw her nod with a serious frown on her face. She called out to the boy.
“Lute, we have to take care of something and I need to have you go out for a bit. Please don’t go too far.”
He was munching a bun, which turned out to be filled with chopped meat, and holding a drinking gourd. “You’re changing the elve’s dressings again? I told you, I’m alright with seeing that.”
“No… this time, I don’t want you watching this. Please, Lute?”
He rolled his eyes and left the little room. Melione looked at me.
“I’ll… be your meal, My Lady.”
I shook my head. “I can easily find a brothel in this town…”
“We need to stay hidden,” she said, sitting down on the sleeping pad next to Arken’s cot. “I’ve agreed to this, Lady Tiana.”
After letting out a sigh, I undid my sword belt and pulled off my gauntlets. Maybe I should have been arguing more, but with her outright volunteering, and me getting hungry, I guess I just gave up and let her volunteer.
“Are you undressing?” she wondered.
I gave her a wry grin. “You wouldn’t want to be embraced by someone wearing armor, Melione.”
I was beginning to feel the shakes caused by my hunger. I had definitely pushed it too long. It took several minutes, but I was able to get my armor off. Melione looked at my skimpy customized now-clearly-not-anything-like-a-chemise with clear disapproval.
“I have a kirtle in my pack,” I told her, as I sat next to her. It was a light cotton dress, and it filled more than half the pack, but I had known I was going to be around Melione, so I brought it. “I’ll put it on later.”
“Why later?” she wondered, looking uncomfortable. Her reaction reminded me that what I was about to do appeared erotic to mortal eyes. For Melione’s sake, I frowned up at the male eyes in the room.
“Uncle Arken, don’t watch”
He turned his head the other direction. “Of course, My Lady.”
I explained to her, “I only have one kirtle this time. I don’t want to get blood on it. And I have no normal tunic along. So I’m afraid it has to be just this.”
Leaning in, I tried smelling her hair and her neck… but my fangs wouldn’t grow out. I sighed and pulled away.
“I haven’t done this to a friend before. It’s… difficult.” Well, I had done it once, and I had done it to this friend specifically, but that was while I was half out of my head with pain, after the dragon battle.
“Is there something I can do to help?”
I heaved another, deeper sigh. “Take off your kirtle.”
A knot formed in my gut, but I explained, with more than a little embarrassment, “I… need you to look more delicious.”
Although I had feared what her reaction might be, she didn’t say a word. She just stood and undid some ties, then pulled her kirtle up over her head.
That will do nicely, Melione. Thanks.
I closed my eyes because I felt like I was ogling her, and waited for her to sit back down. When I didn’t feel her doing so, I opened them to see her having just pulled her chemise off as well. A nearly naked, busty, very enticing young woman was suddenly standing in front of me. I began shaking harder.
She sat next to me once more, and brushed her hair back to get it out of the way for me.
“That… might be a little too delicious…” I muttered, trying to cling to my self-control.
It didn’t work. Instinct took over. I turned on the vampire charm and pushed her down onto the mat.
I heard a weak cry come out of her as she landed on her back, but she didn’t struggle. Her wide eyes stared up at me, as I got over her. My right hand pinned her shoulder in place while I cradled her head with my left, to keep her safely still. I leaned down, dragging in a deep smell of her hair, then the fragrance of her skin. My fangs formed easily, and I sank them into her.
She let out another weak cry as I began drinking my fill.
Somewhere well into it, I recognized that I had hit her with a full-force charm, and I was drinking an awful lot. I forced myself to end my meal, and withdrew my fangs from her, looking down at her, a terrible fear growing inside my gut. It became worse as I realized she wasn’t wearing her amulet.
The smile I saw there was filled with pleasure and lust and twisted my heart in two. She tried to reach up to pull me down for a kiss. I dodged and, just to confirm, gave her a command. “Rest now.”
“Yes, My Lady,” she answered without question. She turned sideways into a semi-fetal position and closed her eyes. While tears formed in my eyes and my fear turned into a stone of anxiety inside me, I unfolded her blanket and covered her.
She had fallen asleep almost immediately, perfectly obedient to her new mistress. Tears now running down my face, I moved to Arken’s bedside, sat on the floor there and laid my head down on my arms.
“Uncle Arken,” I sobbed.
His hand landed on my head. Even though it was bandaged, it felt good as he stroked my hair.
“What’s wrong, Ti?” He used my childhood nickname… but I didn’t mind it. I was a very upset little girl right then. Damned elves always know exactly the right thing to say…
I looked up, my voice unable to work at first. I finally forced my way through it.
“I messed up,” I grated. “I’ve turned Melione into a blood slave. I never, ever wanted to make a blood slave of anyone, and I went and made Melione…”
I laid my head back down.
“Your sure it’s complete? She isn’t just heavily charmed?”
I nodded, letting the self-loathing wash over me. “I’m sure.”
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