Chapter 62 – Discussion

I nodded my confirmation to her. I had no delusions about how badly I had misled them by omission.

“I’m sorry for not being fully honest about myself,” I told her. “Even if I had my reasons, you had a right to know such an important thing about someone you were going to be risking your life with.”

“But the thing about being a fairy knight is still true?”

“My mother is a real, genuine greater fairy, and I’m a true half-fairy, not just a person with fairy blood. A half-fairy can become a fairy knight. It’s just that I’m also a half-vampire.”

“A dhampir,” she said.

I nodded. “It means the same thing, so yes.”

Technically, not really. A dhampir is a human’s child begotten by a vampire father. Mother isn’t human. But there was no point in arguing over a picky point like that.

I didn’t know if I should go into the difference between fairy senses and vampire senses, and how I had been doing both. If she didn’t know beforehand, then it wouldn’t prove anything to her. Hopefully she did know that no vampire or half-vampire can heal or purify. My ability had to be coming from my fairy half.

Both vampires and fairies used wind magic to fly. Almost all flying creatures other than birds, bats and insects did. But vampires normally had bat-like wings like dragons. So maybe my bird wings were helping.

“Is this why you had to leave their party?” she wondered, with a wave toward Ryuu.

I nodded. “Essentially, yes. It was the King who told them I didn’t need to drink blood, because of my fairy half. So, it wasn’t me who lied to them, and the King ordered me to keep it secret, but… well, maybe I should have told them anyway.”

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Ceria didn’t respond to that.

With a shake of my head, I disagreed with my uncertainty. “No, I should have told them. There was no ‘maybe’ about it.”

I realized it only right before those words came out of my mouth. Tiana should have told them.

Ryuu had been an ass in the way he responded to it, but he and the other two had been rightfully upset. Tiana shouldn’t have obeyed Uncle Owen, and should have told him that she wouldn’t do so.

“How many blood slaves do you have?” she asked.

Guilt twisted inside me again, with the reminder about Melione. “Only one. And she was the result of an accident.”

“An accident?” she echoed, sounding dubious.

My lip twisted and I shook my head again. “You’re right, accident isn’t the right word. I screwed up. I fed on someone I should have realized was very susceptible to blood bondage.”

She tilted her head in confusion, so I explained, “Healers and anyone else with especially weak affinities have very little internal mana. They become depleted and fall into blood bondage far faster than others. I was wrong in the first place, when I let her feed me.”

After a few moments, Ceria observed, “That’s how you know you can learn magic from me. You learned healing from her.”

I nodded. “I have extremely high magic potential, according to the tests. And I have affinity for all seven elements. But I’ve never been able to learn any spells normally. I’ve only been able to use innate vampire and fairy skills. It seems I must learn casting through this weird innate learning skill instead.”

“How come you haven’t taken a mage as a blood slave before?”

I scowled, a little hurt by the question. I should have just told her that I only learned about my spell-learning ability in the last couple days, but instead I asked, “Are you suggesting I should have just hunted down some mage and forced her?”

“No, I mean… oh, I guess that’s true. It’s not like someone is just going to let you do that.” With a weak laugh, she added, “I of all people should have realized that, right? Sorry.”

She began stroking her sister’s hair and studying her face. I had a pretty good idea what was going through her head at that moment.

“Lady… what if I do it with her, instead of us doing this blood bond thing? If she can get her miasma under control and use her strength again, what do you think our chances are?”

I contemplated the question for a bit, then said, “Leaving aside the fact that I really hate the idea of you two having to do such a thing, I would like to point out that if we have another attack like the last two, I may become a liability as well. I may be close to the point where you have to feed me whether you feed her or not.”

Her eyes grew wary, and I didn’t blame her a bit. But I pressed the point. “Has your sister ever lost control and attacked someone because she was low?”

Ceria pressed her lips together, then nodded. “Yeah. She has a really good grip on herself now, but it happened a couple times when she was younger. Fortunately both guys were okay with it.”

She gave a small, wry laugh about it and admitted, “I guess there are guys who wouldn’t object to a sexy girl like Bruna getting a little too aggressive.”

Robert might have called it his lucky day, I thought to myself.

I told her, “Well, I could do the same. I once fed on someone without asking. She was somebody who knew in advance that it was possible and she was prepared for it, but… well, never mind that. What I’m trying to say is, if I know I’m getting close to that point, I must either feed on you or run away and abandon you. I want to know which one you would choose.”

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In response to the look in her eyes, I turned my head. “Sorry. It’s just… I may not have another choice. I’m not feeling it yet, but using magic accelerates my need for stable mana. If I keep having to use magic as strong as what I did in the last battle, I might have to either feed on you or run away. I won’t be able to restrain myself if I stay near you.”

No answer. I waited for a bit, then looked back. She was still stroking Bruna’s hair.

I decided to add, “If your answer is that I should run off, then I want you two to do it now, while it’s quiet.”

Her eyes raised up at me, growing angry, but I refused to back down. “If you haven’t done it when the time comes, then I will feed on you against your wishes, so I can stay and protect you. If I abandon you with her in this state, it would be like killing the two of you myself. I refuse to do that.”

At first, she looked like she would retort, but she understood how bad a situation we were in. She nodded instead and said, “Give me a little while to decide.”

We didn’t talk about it any more. Ceria got out her provisions and we woke Bruna so the sisters could eat together. While they were having their meal, I again felt the warm glow of Healing mana flowing as Melione gave Arken yet another dose. I had felt it several times a day since leaving Lute’s home the previous morning. I wondered if his leg were regenerating yet.

I was in the middle of  that thought when I felt a powerful presence in the distance.

There was no fog, no mist obscuring the approaching entities. I had no doubt that something demonic was coming.

Standing up, I breathed in, closed my eyes, and cast my fairy sense as far as I was able, concentrating deeply on what it should. Two demonic beasts approached, I believed… then I saw, behind them, something obscured. Possibly two things.

I had two enchanted bolts left. For ranged shots after that, we only had whatever magic Ceria knew. I stuck one of those bolts into the flight groove of my crossbow and the other in the stock. Then I retrieved the spear from the drop items.

They hadn’t reached the radius of Ceria’s spell yet. I nudged each of the girls awake myself, then told Ceria, “Your one and only job is to protect yourself and your sister. Do not assist me.”

Something in her eyes told me that she wouldn’t necessarily obey the order. “I am the employer here. Don’t forget that.”

She gave a wry grin and told me, “You need to survive for us to collect our pay, Lady.”

I laughed. “Joke’s on you. My share of the loot and the bounties easily covers your pay at this point. So follow orders.”

I had briefly considered threatening her with destroying the bracelet to make her, but the idea was too vile to mention. I rejected the idea. As I stepped forward, I heard her muttering, “You also have to survive to claim your share.”

She then began preloading her staff.

I told her sister, “Bruna, stay by your sister’s side and use your glaive only to defend her and yourself, without strengthening magic. You do not have any leeway to do magic at this point, do you understand?”

I could hear the sigh even at the distance I now was. “Understood, Lady.”

At last I felt Ceria’s alarm barrier go off. The presence continued to advance. After a few minutes more, a pair of demonic beasts appeared at the forest edge.

“Chimeras,” Bruna said it before I could. In her voice, I could hear the plunge in her spirits paralleling my own. She saw two rare, powerful beasts. I could see that they weren’t the only enemy.

My own spirits took a second nose dive in the next moment, as the third presence emerged from the trees.

- my thoughts:

No rest for the party. And no easy decision for Ceria.

It is a tough question for Tiana, if Ceria doesn't agree and Tiana becomes hungry. Should she feed on her to protect them or respect her refusal and run away? Having only two bad choices stinks.

BTW, 'Dhampir' is also from Albanian legend. It does indeed mean the child of a human woman begat by a male vampire. On Huade, the majority of such children become human rather than dhampir, making them rare creatures.

Check out my other novel: Tales of the ESDF

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