Chapter 42 – Bracelet

I watched Arken enchant a bracelet for Melione while my guts ached. It was difficult on him, doing something like this with all his injuries, but his beautiful elven face did not betray a hint of pain.

Since I would likely have to deal with strangers on my own when I went out to rescue the three missing members, he had also enchanted my sword to look like elvish steel. Unlike fairy steel and nightsteel, elvish steel is true steel– in other words, it’s an iron alloy– but the alloy contains mithril and silver, which protect it from the destructive effect I have on iron. Arken gave me an elvish sword for my twelfth birthday, and I had carried that as a squire.

So I would be still carrying a valuable weapon fit for a fairy knight, but not one worth one thousand times its weight in gold.

Now, he was putting special enchantments on the bracelet that all blood slaves in Orestania must receive by law. There were multiple enchantments, but the most important was one that ensured she could follow her own wishes instead of ignoring them in order to serve me. The blood bond is relentless, so the bracelet had to use power constantly. Which meant it had to be recharged regularly.

It would not cure her. Nothing could ever cure her. I had pushed her way over the limit. She had already been perilously close because my previous feeding had been so recent. In my hunger, I had utterly neglected to consider that fact.

When Aunt Elianora first began teaching Tiana, she made her meet some of her father’s victims. She wanted to make absolutely certain that Tiana understood what blood bondage was. Even though the Duke of Pendor was long gone, the blood slaves that she met were still dependent on such enchantments in order to live their lives for themselves. Thanks to certain commandments that the Duke had given them, they might suicide, in order to loyally remain with him, if they didn’t have those charms.

Tiana had understood that, and had committed herself to avoiding putting anyone in blood bondage. But, now I knew something that I never understood before. I had never really understood just how easily I could lose control. I had never truly confronted the reality of my new existence.

One inescapable fact defined Tiana Pendor. One unchangeable reality that would be with her– with me– for the rest of my life.

I’m a monster.

Yes, vampires had become civilized and law-abiding and had found the way to live beside humans in peace as good members of society, but this did not change the fact that they were still bona fide members of the biological category known as “monster”.

That reality had just slapped me in the face, hard.

I wondered if either the king, as a human, or my mother, as a fairy, had ever really understood what it meant for me to be half monster.

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When Arken finished, he looked at me, sitting there in my deep funk, then shook his head, scowling. “My Lady, I knew this might happen. That’s why I brought a bracelet along and learned the spells to enchant it. But you need to accept that the damage is done and move forward. She’ll be alright, My Lady.”

My brows bunched up. “She won’t be alright, Uncle Arken. The bracelet just lets her act like she’s free. She’ll never get better. She’ll keep having to get them renewed, and…”

I couldn’t say the other problem.

“And sometimes freed blood slaves decide they want to stay with their master anyway?”

Leave it to the elve to see right through me and guess it anyway. I looked down, letting out a sigh, and nodded.

He gave a hmph and patted my arm. “Lady Tiana, if Melione ever chooses that, don’t argue. Just insist that she continue keeping the bracelet charged even if she does follow you. If that is her free will while under its protection, then you have to recognize it as her free will. Because you have done this to her, it has become your responsibility to respect her wishes. You now owe her that. I predict you would treat her like a friend and an equal anyway. I know you.”

The part of my heart that now felt half-dead didn’t accept the claim. Do you really know me, Uncle? Do any of the people in my life know me?

I have four ‘Uncles’ and an ‘Aunt’. Mother tells me that I have some real uncles and aunts back in Relador, and grandparents too, but I’ve never met any of them. The adults of my family are just Mother’s friends, and Aunt Elianora, the vampire who tutored me in the things no fairy, elve or human could teach me. They all understood half of me, but nobody understood the complete me, when the two halves were put together.

Arken handed me the finished bracelet.

We had already discussed how I would do this. I knelt down next to Melione and woke her gently. She looked up at me with a beaming smile, which just made the rock in my stomach heavier.

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Brushing my emotions aside, I used a command to tell her, “You must wear this bracelet whenever you can. If you must take it off for any reason, you must put it back on as soon as possible.”

We didn’t know if using a vampire command would help make sure she kept it on or not. It might be that the bracelet would counteract the command once she wore the bracelet. But, it was worth a try.

“Yes, My Lady,” she acknowledged and accepted it from me. When the clasp closed, I saw the metamorphosis on her face, as blissful obedience turned deep scarlet with embarrassment as she remembered how she had been feeling about me, just a moment before.

Although she’s an adventurer and a remarkable healer, in the end, Melione is a modest and highly moral villager girl. And, to the best of my knowledge, she is straight. Blood bondage had been forcing feelings within her that were completely at odds with her true feelings and her sexual orientation.

Blood bondage doesn’t overwrite sexual orientation, I should note. It’s more like, when the slave is the same gender as the master, it forces the slave to ignore the issue. So if Melione was heterosexual before, she still is.

She looked away, then grabbed the blanket and pulled it over her head.

A few moments later, she demanded, “Why am I still half naked?!”

“I felt it would be wrong for me to touch you, ” I answered. “I left your clothing where you dropped it.”

I looked up at the elve. “Uncle Arken, don’t peek.”

“Of course not,” he stated. He’d been mostly not looking anyway, but turned his head fully the other direction. Melione reluctantly pushed her blanket aside and retrieved her clothing. She got up on her knees to pull her chemise on.

I lowered my head to her. “Melione, I lost control of myself. I deeply apologize. I am so sorry.”

She still wouldn’t look at me, but after she tied the closure on the neckline and picked up her kirtle, she stated, “I’ll accept your apology, but I knew about the risk, My Lady, so it isn’t necessary. They warned me about it when they asked me to help you in an emergency. They told me a young vampire can sometimes lose control.”

“It is still my fault. You still have a right to be angry with me.”

“I’m not angry, My Lady,” she insisted as she pulled her head through the kirtle.

“But…”

“My Lady,” she interrupted. “I am extremely tired. I would like to rest more.”

I nodded, and she laid herself back down on the sleeping pad, turning her back toward me and pulling the blanket over herself. I sat with my back against the wall, listening to her breath until she fell asleep once again.

- my thoughts:

I don't know if the reader is thinking "Poor Tiana" or "Poor Melione" right now. I'm on the border on it. Tiana probably didn't take the risk seriously enough, but Melione probably didn't either. They both accepted it too lightly.

Check out my other novel: Tales of the ESDF

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