Monday, March 7, 2011

Branded - Chapter 4

“…your mother became impregnated,” he was saying, “carrying his child. She believed it to be the child of her husband, but your father knew the truth. He would go to her when he could. This became increasingly difficult as she was alone less and less as the pregnancy progressed. Your mother’s husband accepted a position in the new city. They moved away shortly after discovering the pregnancy.”

My will to resist was wavering; I wanted to know more, but I didn’t want to seem too anxious to know more. I will listen to what he has to say, and then sift through it later. “If he truly loved her, why did he not take her away with him at that point?”

He laughed at my inquiring, causing my will to harden again.

“I fail to see what is so funny. I’m not going to sit here while you ridicule me.”

“I’m sorry,” he said in earnest. “You have much to learn. Come with me, I want to show you some of what you are.”

“What do mean, ‘what I am?’ Who are you?” He was talking like I was some kind of animal; a freak; a sideshow exhibit.

“Who I am is unimportant at the moment. Just come, I’ll show you.”

“Alright, I’ll go if it’ll hurry your departure. I’ll be right back,” I said as I went inside to change into something a little more suitable for the night air. “Let’s go.” I simply said, as I emerged from the house.

“Right over here. I want to show you that you possess some of your father’s powers. Something the human could never possess. Now, we’ll race to the turn in the cove over there…”

“What is this all about? I’m not racing you anywhere.”

“Would you please humor me just this once? I swear, if you cannot catch me or beat me, I will leave you alone,” he challenged.

“Fine, I can’t wait for you to leave. Let’s get this over with,” I said, resigned to be rid of him, once and for all.

“Now, just concentrate on catching me; your body will do the rest. Whenever you’re ready!” he said.

I began to run across the sand. He took flight and soon passed me with a speed the likes of which I had never seen. I concentrated on catching him and my body felt like it was changing. It became light and lithe; it felt as if it lifted off the sand and was barely brushing the grains as I passed over them.

That was wild. I’ve never felt so exhilarated. And this has been inside me all this time? What a rush. I won’t give him the satisfaction of knowing how much I enjoyed it.

‘Ha ha, I knew you would love it,’ his voiced echoed in my mind as clearly as if he had spoken the words aloud.

“How did you…?” I stammered.

“We have the ability to read the thoughts of others. Be mindful of what you are thinking at all times. You never know who might be eaves dropping.”

“I…can read minds?”

“Yes, to an extent, but your abilities are limited, as are mine. Come let me show you. We will need to find someone whose mind is open. Any human will do. Perhaps we can find our guinea pig at the park.”

“There, that human over there. He should do.”

“I know who he is; that’s Ellis Steiner. He’s a member of a small military contingent on the base at the other end of the island.”

“Good; go ahead and read his thoughts.”

“What? I can’t read his thoughts.”

“You can if you try. You must concentrate. In time, you will be able to read minds with little effort; perhaps even when you don’t want to. Humans are such unguarded creatures.”

“You speak of humans as if they are unintelligent animals. If you are like me, you are half human yourself.”

“Yes, unfortunately, I have those weak genes. However, I prefer to embrace my stronger heritage and denounce the weak. Now, go on and read his mind before he decides to leave.”

I began to concentrate my energy on probing Ellis’ thoughts. “I am not able to read his thoughts. Perhaps I don’t have that ability.”

“You have it. Believe me, you have it; I’ve felt it. It’s not going to come to you just like that. It will take time and effort in the beginning. But with practice and perseverance, you’ll get there.”

“Oh, I can see his thoughts. He is thinking that he is able to enjoy this lawn game because he was handy enough to quickly repair the broken sink in his kitchen.”

“Yes, you’ve done it. That was impressive. It took me some time from my first attempt. But then I was just a fledgling when I learned.”

“Fledgling?” I asked; sure I did not understand the context in which he used the term.

“A fledgling is a newly turned vampire. I tend to think in terms of the vampire world as that’s where I was raised; as I’m sure you identify yourself with the humans.”

”Ah, that makes sense. Is it always that simple; to read minds, I mean?”

“Yes, however, your abilities are much weaker than those of most vampires.”

“Most vampires?”

“I say most, because there are some weak-minded vampires. Your father is Princeps, one of the bloodlines with the strongest mental abilities. You are of him, so you have stronger abilities as a result. But make no mistake; your abilities are weak compared to most vampires.”

“You were going to tell me more of my father and mother before you opened my eyes to what I can become. Would you tell me now?” I asked sheepishly.

“Of course; let’s return to your house, and I’ll continue there,” he said in a triumphant tone.

“So was that my father who had called earlier, at the house? The man told me to listen to what you had to say.”

“I do not know for certain, but I would presume so. As I said, our abilities are comparably weak to those of the vampires. Your father has the ability to read minds over great distances. You and I are only able to read minds within a much shorter radius.”

Once back at the house, I lit a fire in the fireplace, feeling an uncomfortable chill. An eerie feeling, like someone was watching you. I shrugged it off as my imagination playing tricks.

We sat in front of the fire as I recanted, “If he loved her, why did he let her leave?”

“As relations with humans are frowned upon, there is no telling what might have happened to her, had he tried to hide her away. He could not take her into his world and he could not enter hers. For her safety, he had to let her go.”

“Yes, I can understand that.”

“As I said earlier, they moved away shortly after discovering the pregnancy. This new city was in the domain of another bloodline. These vampires are hideous, misshapen creatures of the night; hardly worthy to be called vampires, but vampires nonetheless. They keep mostly to themselves, hidden away from humans and other bloodlines alike, mainly because of their appearance. Little information can be gathered from or about them. They are of the Umbra Bloodline.

“How many bloodlines are there?”

“There are seven major bloodlines, two lesser, and uncounted rogue lines. To continue, your father set out to find her again; to bring her back to him. The Princeps made every effort to thwart his search, fearing he would lead to the bloodline’s discovery. They went so far as to enter into an unprecedented agreement with the Umbra to that end.

“His continued efforts to locate her eventually got him removed from his seat as Regis. He was cast out, no longer welcome at court. He went into seclusion for a time in an attempt to solidify his place among the bloodline, although he remained undaunted in his quest. By the time he located her, it was too late. She was due to have the child and any attempt to move her might jeopardize the child.

“He wanted the child now, as a human female giving birth to a dhamphir, or Branded such as you, cannot survive the delivery. Your mother’s fate was sealed. Your father clung to the shadows, watching day after day, until the time came. She went into labor, would deliver a son and then die that night.

“Your mother gave birth to twins, which is virtually unheard of in hybrid births. It wasn’t until sometime later that your father learned of the twin son. He would have to wait and watch for now, as he dare not abandon the son he had taken; for surely the other vampires would destroy the child.”

“This twin; my brother; do you know him? Would it be possible to meet him?”

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