A very young couple where embracing, and kissing, and doing the tender things people in the first flush of love do since the dawn of time. Neither had ever been in love before, had ever felt the power of it, the overwhelming energy of it, could begin to imagine that it could fade just as quickly as it had come upon them. In their minds they where handfasted, Married, Man and Wife, Mother & Father, all at once. They looked into a whispered future and saw nothing but each other.
They did not sense they where observed, being so totally focused on each other. They could not begin to know that just a few steps away, Giselle was perched in her "Secret Place." and Oona had been teaching her herb lore. No voice was there to carry on the wind, to tell a tale of their company, for Oona and Giselle seldom spoke aloud. Oona could always hear Giselle's thoughts, and taught Giselle to still her mind, and accept Oona's thoughts. Oona insisted that if Giselle was to be her priestess one day, she must learn to keep her mind quite still, "then you will hear me from anywhere in the Nine Worlds, Little Morsel."
Giselle was just old enough to be curious, to dream about the day a young man would wrap her up in his arms. So for a long moment she sat and silently watched them embrace, and kiss, and whisper. The silence from Oona seemed so very long though, and Giselle finally looked at her mentor to assure herself Oona was still there, that she had not slipped away, into another realm. Oona's face was wet. She watched the young-ones with an expression like stone, yet her face was wet, and Giselle had never seen this before.
Moving with the stealth of one raised in the woods. Giselle shifted her position, so she could embrace Oona, while not alarming the young-ones. Her mind went to Oona's "Why are you crying?," a pause, " I did not know a Daughter of Kur could cry."
"I had almost forgotten myself, Little Morsel."
There was a long silence, while Oona watched the Young-ones, and Giselle watched Oona. Finally Giselle said to her mind. "It might comfort you to share with me what is bringing you these tears."
"Shall I tell you then?" Oona looked into her eyes, "Do you think you can hold such a secret, that would humble ME with tears."
"I will hold it for you Oona."
Oona smiled a crooked smile. Her fondness for Giselle blended poorly with her sadness, carving an odd and awkward expression into her noble face. "You are, as ever, so fearless my Little Morsel."
* * * *
We too slipped into the shadows to kiss and caress and whisper of a loving future to one an other. When spring came I was soooo nervous. I was born in the 9th month. Seven other girls would claim their husbands before my turn came. Would someone "Steal" my Ainu from me? The time crawled, minutes felt like years, and when my turn came, Ainu was still in the circle of last years couples. Still waiting for a maiden to take his hand and lead him from the center to the circle. With the greatest joy, I took his hand. Lead him to the circle, and we joined the couples. We all danced around a great Oak. Singing praises to Momma Ki, and sacred Anar.
Under the leaves of Sacred Anar we where handfasted, and in the next year we where married. At summer Solstice I brought forth my first child, a daughter. "Fire of Ki" in your tongue. The 5th of the Nine told me she would be a handful, for she was going to be a passion flower. As is the custom of the Murain we lived in my mothers house. Anar is small, and houses often serve 3 generations of Murain. I had brought forth 2 more children, "Eyes of Isis" and "Hand of Horus". He was too, everything the boy touched in the garden blossomed. Our neighbors begged us to just let him "play" in their gardens, for the earth magick was so rich in him. He was a handsome child, beloved by all.
He was no more than 3, Myself and Ainu where celebrating our 10th year together and where counted very well blessed. The Murian are longer lived than your people, but we have fewer children. 3 Children in 10 years, it was scarcely imaginable. My sisters would tease me, "Does he ever let you off your back." I would answer, "Perhaps the Question is do I ever let him off his back?" We did share passion more than most Murian.
Then one day it all changed, so suddenly.
Ainu took me to the Inn to celebrate our 10th year. Friends gathered around us, many a song was sang. A ram was roasted in our honor. We drank too much Ale. A chorus went up to hear me sing. The men pounded the butt of their knives on the tables and chanted my name. I could see there was no choice and took up my Harp, and sang. It was beautifully crafted by the Bristlings, and had been in my family 3 generations at least. As I played, I felt I was being watched. The feeling was so intense as to be distracting. My gaze was drawn to an empty booth, I felt a presence but saw only shadows. I barely finished the piece. After I was done I headed to the door, nearly tripping on Ainu.
"Oona?" he asked, his voice was full of concern.
"I just need a breath of air precious. Please see to our friends, I'll only be a moment." He looked at me so oddly as I walked away, like something was on the tip of his tongue but he could not find the words.
"I stepped out of a side entrance, and into a small garden where lovers often sought privacy. I found some Violets, breathed their perfume deeply, and centered myself under the light of the moon."
A woman approached, very tall even for a Murain. From behind me she said, "I heard you play, you have a rare gift."
"Thank you" I said turning to her.
Without another word she pulled me close, bit down hard on my neck and took a great draught. Suddenly I was weak, my knees would have buckled if she had not held me up, I could barely whisper, I was powerless to scream.
"Oh but you are beautiful as well aren't you. You could be of great value to me little one. I will let you choose, but you must choose quickly. You may drink of my blood, and become an immortal, you will live forever gathering blood and souls for me."
"Or no, and I will finish feasting on your luscious blood."
"But my children, my husband."
"Are dead to you now, that life is over. You may live in my service or die. That is your choice. "
"I was terrified, I knew exactly who held me in her Iron embrace, I knew there was no escape, and I knew I did not want to die. "I want to live, I want to Live, I WANT to LIVE!" I breathed as strongly as I could, and it was barely a whisper.
"Drink then." She said offering me her arm, a small cut on it from her own nails. As I drank, I felt like I was being hollowed out, like I was being poisoned, but the poison made me crave more poison. It also made me feel strong, stronger than I ever dared imagine a woman could feel. I needed her blood, needed it badly, the need became fangs and I plunged them deep into her, and drank.
Finally she gently but firmly pulled me free from the cut. Like a wolf pulling a pup from the kill. She smiled at me, "Oh your a fierce one aren't you. You are going to serve me so very well Oona. Now go, explore the night, discover your strength, and feast. I will call for you soon, bring me blood and souls sweet daughter."
I raced to the edge of the garden and vaulted the wall. I fell three men that night taking them viciously and without hesitation. I needed blood, they had it, that was all. As dawn approached I felt myself drawn to Tsulsala, she kissed me, nursed, and took most of the blood from me. She left me feeling sharply hungry, but not starved. "Sleep now" she said, and I could feel a strange weariness coming upon me as the sun rose.
I lingered in bed all day, my husband thought me ill. I half heard snatches of conversation in my fever. A beast, a terrible beast had slipped through the fences in the night and killed 3 Mawne. The warriors where scouring the countryside looking for a were-wolf. Ainu was needed as soon as he could leave my side.
Yet my condition did not improve and he did not leave my side all day. Now the Murian treasure their women, and no-one would have looked twice at him on that account. The sun finally sank below the leaves of Anar, and my fever faded with the light. I finally felt well, and strong again.
I rose up from my bed, and saw them looking at me eyes so full of sweet concern. I did not see my family, only food. The beast in my brain knew only Ainu could outrun me or resist me, so I came to him softy, and sprang on him. I stole his blood before he could begin to understand what was happening. I feasted on my children, one by one. My hunger momentarily sated I realized the full horror of what I had done, of what I had become. Looking at the ruin of all I ever treasured, I wailed like a Banshee. I cried for hours.
No sweet warrior came with silver pointed spear, guided by that sound to end my misery. The menfolk where all beyond the fences hunting me. Fierce Hunger began rise again. I set my home on fire, vaulted the fences of our lodger and ran as far from home as I could before dawn found me. That day, I learned to fear the sun. For though Uttu's light cannot kill our kind, he can cause us great pain while we are young, and it would be many lives of men, before I could sit unflinching in the sun here with you Giselle.
"... But your family, ... they live in your dreams, as one day I will live in your dreams."
"Yes sweet Giselle, one day you will live in my dreams. I have never lied to you. My family though does not. You see I was a "new borne" if you will. I had no idea about the subtleties of the kill. No idea I could separate a soul from the blood so it could live on in me, become part of me as you will one day. No Giselle I simply devoured them and they are gone forever."
Giselle embraced Oona, tightly and with great love. "Kiss me Oona."
Oona sealed her lips to Giselle's neck, and nursed softly, taking just a few mouthfuls of blood. She felt the sad emptiness in her bosom fade, as she was filled with Giselle's shining love. Pressing a cheek down on Giselle's head, Oona embraced Giselle, and no hunger rose to challenge the love that swelled her bosom. Ama tu ANKI.