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So It Is In The Darkness

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Her feet pounded on the hard concrete below her, breath struggling to escape her heaving chest.

Breathe.

Hair billowed behind her and caught on a pointed ear as she ran, legs stretching as far and as fast as they would take her.

Don’t stop, not even for a second. Keep running!

Her chest was burning, desperately needing to suck in more air than her swift-footed escape would allow her.

Damn it, Lavellan, she thought, Breathe!

Her lungs were contracting, constricting her breath, barely able to breathe at all. She struggled for an intake of air as tears welled about her eyes.

Creators, guide my steps ...she prayed to herself as she choked back a sob. She couldn’t afford to fall apart now. Not with that creature chasing her. One false step and it would be all over, she knew. What in the blazes is that thing?!

At first the fear had just been a small churning in her stomach when she felt eyes watching her, following her every movement. Her languid walk home from work had turned into a brisk pace when she heard the footsteps trailing behind her.

She’d heard the growl before she felt it - the wash of malice and malevolence pouring into her from the one who stalked her. The aura of evil settling over her like a dark cloud. Fear had flooded her veins then, her chest, her mind. When she had finally realized the danger she was in, when her limbs finally wanted to cooperate, she’d picked up her pace from a brisk walk to a full run.

She dashed down the sidewalk, pushing her body to run as fast as physically able, darting down alleys and streets as if she was made of wind itself.

She realized in her panic she’d gotten turned around and the tall buildings looming overhead were unfamiliar to her. She had no idea where she was running to. She just needed to get away from the monster so close on her heels. She could feel its fingers brush the back of her shirt.

Come on, Ellana! RUN!

Ellana was suddenly very grateful for her days on the track and field team during college. Her calves were on fire, her chest burning, eyes watering. Her legs were turning to rubber and starting to give, her energy depleting.

She couldn’t stop, wouldn’t stop. Had to keep moving. They were the hunter and she the prey. Her feet kept thumping upon the hard street below her. The dark shadow of her pursuer stretched along the sidewalk ahead of her. It was closing in. No!

In a wild attempt to lose the beast hunting her, she turned into a dark alleyway, her eyes struggling in the effort to adjust to the darkness pouring from every shadow.

Desperately hoping she’d lost it, Ellana chanced a glance over a shoulder. A chance she should not have taken. She was knocked from her feet with the strength of ten men, the little breath she had taken right out of her from the force of it. The tears she’d been holding back fell and dripped onto the ground. Feral images of what was going to happen to her flew through her mind as she tried to retain some semblance of control over herself. She would not lose herself to fear.

She pushed back against the weight on her back but strong fingers dug into her shoulder blades and her face was pushed into the dirty cement. A glass bottle had been smashed on the ground nearby and small shards of it ground into her cheek. The smell of garbage and filth from the nearby dumpster filled her nostrils.

“Let me go, you filthy whorespawn!” she sobbed, wildly gulping in breaths of air.

The creature’s face nuzzled her ear with a rumbling growl. The repulsive smell of its breath made her gag, the scent of rot and death filling her senses. She didn’t dare turn her head to look at it, but the sight of it in her peripheral vision alarmed her. The visage of the man crouching over her was enough to force a cry from her throat. This was no normal man, it’s animalistic movements and snarl made her think otherwise.

Fear was overtaking her, numbing her body with a deep set chill. She wished she had the courage to yell, to scream for help, to have the strength to lift her head out of the creatures hold and make a run for the street not far behind.

Teeth flashed in the corner of her vision and scraped along her neck slowly. It was playing with her. Unable to control her cries any longer, she caught the sob escaping her throat and threw all of her strength into trying to toss it off of her. It wasn’t enough.

Alarmingly long nails dug into her shoulders and she cried out in pain as they pricked into her skin. She could feel its hot breath on her neck, the trail of stinking saliva that it left as it tasted her flesh.

Horror was filling her emotions and wrapping around her spine. She trembled with the adrenaline that she wanted to use to throw off this barbaric creature but she couldn’t budge below its unnatural strength.

Then it happened.

Sharp teeth plunged into her neck and she released a shriek of pain as blood splattered into her hair and face, across her vallaslin, and around the pavement. The searing pain was more than she could handle and tears streamed down her face. She’d never felt anything as repulsive and invasive as its teeth in her neck.

The creature slurped and drank greedily, sucking the blood straight from her neck as it poured from the wound. Drip by drip it drank, relishing in the metallic taste that only a monster could enjoy. She could feel the blood being drawn and pulled from her unwillingly, pouring into its mouth like a delectable treat. The night had become impossibly quiet as she lay there helplessly, her whimpers becoming more and more faint. The sickly sound of it feeding filled her ears.

Ellana no longer had the strength to cry out as her body fell into a state of paralysis. She fell quiet, her breath slowing, and the world went hazy around her. She could no longer make out the shapes of the nearby garbage bags and dumpsters, or even the pattern of the concrete below. Nauseating dizziness overtook her as the monster drained her of life.

Someone...help…

Almost as quickly as it had begun, it was over. The monster pulled its teeth from her neck and stood in an upright position, a leg on either side of her. A deep sigh of satisfaction escaped its lips.

Then it fled, leaving her for dead. Blood dripped from the gaping wound in her neck.

Using the last of the strength she could muster, she turned her body so she laid on her back, blood pooling beneath her and into clothes, sticking to her hair. The spark of life had left her eyes, skin pallid with the hue only the dead have.

Why...Why didn’t he just kill me...instead of...letting me suffer?

Her eyes rolled into the back of her head, struggling to keep her eyes open. She no longer had the strength or will to rise to her feet and get help. No one would ever find her here, she would die alone. Bleeding to death in a dark alley ripe with decay.

Why did she insist to Sera that she could walk home alone, that it was only a short distance to her apartment? Horrendous monsters aside, walking alone through the Denerim streets was a risk a woman should not take. Gangs, rapists, and thieves lurked around every corner this time of night. Dozens of questions left unanswered zipped through her dulling mind as she struggled to stay awake. Her eyelids were so heavy. No one will ever find me here...

Approaching footsteps willed her to open her eyes and look up, to see the starry night sky one last time before she sunk into darkness forever. Through half-lidded eyes, she hadn’t expected to see stormy grey-blue eyes of a man staring down at her. His eyes penetrated straight through her and into her soul. Her vision was so blurry, so foggy, the figure crouching down beside her was hazy at best. His eyes pierced out of the darkness, a luminous blue fluttering around the pupils.

“I am sorry I was not here earlier, vhenan,” he gasped.

He placed a hand under head neck and pulled her into a sitting position. She flinched in response, a whimper catching in her throat. What could this man possibly want from a dying woman?

“Who…?” she croaked near inaudibly.

“Shh…” the man whispered, placing a cold finger upon her deathly-blue lips.

While the man supported the dying young woman in one strong arm, he brought his other up to his mouth, biting into the flesh of his wrist. After drawing blood, he pressed his wrist to her mouth, tipping it to drip across her lips. He silently begged her to take what he was offering.

She felt the warm liquid being pressed to her lips and she drowsily replied by parting her lips. Her eyes were falling shut again and she couldn’t will them to stay open. She couldn’t feel her arms anymore. What she did not expect, however, was the metallic taste of the fluid dripping into her mouth, realizing it was blood. Repulsed by his gesture she made to move her head to the side but found that she couldn’t. Fear and loss of blood had left her paralyzed and unable to move, so she did the only thing she could and drank what he offered.

Her lips closed around the self-inflicted wound and drank from his bleeding wrist, draining him as best she could with the little strength she had left, her mind focused on that vital source.

The light around her began to strengthen, until all she could see were his swirling blue eyes gazing down at her, anchoring her to this plane. Light permeated into her vision, swelling around everything, blinding her to everything else around her. The blood he gave her rushed into her belly like a blazing inferno.

Her hands flew up to his arm and held his wrist tightly to her as she drank, her eyes never leaving his. His eyes were flashing with blue, his gaze heavy with pleasure.  

It was then that she noticed it, the dull thumping she heard in the back of her head. She concentrated, and a second thumping joined it like a steady double-bass drum beat, and it dawned on her that she was hearing his heartbeat syncing with her own. It throbbed in her temples, in her veins.  She drank greedily, the fluid pouring from his wrist tasting like chocolate to her.

Then suddenly he pulled his wrist from her mouth, ripping it from her grasp, and she gave a whimper of displeasure. She wanted more . He fell back, breathing heavily, and she watched as the wound on his wrist closed on its own.

His sharp teeth glistened in the moonlight. “That is enough, vhenan,” he whispered quietly. He stood slowly, towering over her.

Her breath slowly returned to her, and she realized she was now sitting upright on her own. She pulled her knees to her chest and struggled to bring herself to her feet, stumbling. She was nauseous, so very nauseous. Her belly was burning with fire, her veins lighting with it as it spread into her like wildfire. The light had dimmed away completely, the thumping fading to the single beating of her own heart. The world was spinning around her, vision blurry beyond control.

She felt drugged, felt like her spirit was leaving her body to soar up into the sky, when suddenly it ended. Her head flew back and she screamed, the inferno in her veins lighting her up until it was more than she could bear. Pain seared through every cell of her body, unlike anything she had ever felt before. Not even the coldest water could simmer the boiling of her blood - their blood, fusing and mixing together.

Just as it became too much for her to handle, the world faded to blackness and she fell helplessly into his arms.

 


 

 Ellana slowly came back to consciousness, pain paralyzing every inch of her body. Cold sweat gripped her and nausea overwhelmed her. She retched, blood and vomit spilling from her lips. Her body was being torn apart, cells ripping and pulling against each other as they reshaped her into something new. Her hand flew to the edge of the porcelain tub she was in, hand gripping into it so strongly that it cracked and crumbled in her hand.

Her eyes rolled into her head and she gulped for air. Her lungs were not cooperating, feeling like they were full of sand. A desert was blooming in her mouth while the rest of her trickled with sweat and gods know what else.

She felt a hand soothing her forehead with a cool cloth while it wiped away the sweat and grime. She whimpered as her body convulsed and relaxed over and over again. A deep voice was whispering soothing words into her ear.

Her clothes were sticky with blood and sweat, clinging to her clammy body like a second skin. Every inch of her that was covered or touched by something felt like acid on her skin and she clawed at the tatters of her garments, trying to tear them off. Her fingers were stiff and rigid, she couldn’t breathe. She needed out, needed air, needed something, anything, to take the pain away.

A ragged scream tore from her lips as agony tore through her, wracking her body with unnatural spasms. She felt slender, strong fingers pull her clothing from her fingers and pushing her into a sitting position. Her shirt was pulled over her head as she gasped for breath, and the rest of her clothing followed suit before she was gently eased back down against the back of the tub.

Cool water was poured over her face and back into her hair as the man’s fingers worked the dried blood from her hair. The slight tug on her scalp was torment and her back arched up and off the surface of the tub, bearing her nudity up towards him, a cry of utter distress leaving her chapped lips. His hands gently eased her back down, whispering more words of comfort to her.

She flailed about wildly, desperately attempting to grab onto something, anything, to anchor her back to the earth. His hand found hers and she gripped it tight enough to break it, but he didn’t flinch.

“Vhenan,” he said softly, “Ellana, look at me.”

She struggled to turn her head and stared into the grey-blue eyes staring back at her warmly. “What --” she gasped.

“Shh, vhenan, you are safe here. Only a little longer now.”

The seconds turned into minutes, then hours, days, and time became meaningless to her, as she went in and out of consciousness, each waking an agonizing existence. Her body was changing, she could feel it.

 


 

 She had no sense of how much time had passed when she finally came to a peaceful consciousness, pain no longer wracking her body with every second. It’s over. This is it. This must be death. Although her eyes remained closed, millions of colours danced under her eyelids. Black turned to blue, then green, yellow, red. She wondered what was the point of such a beautiful visual display when she was dead. What did it matter anymore. I wonder if any one will miss me , she thought.

Was this the after life? Did such a thing even exist? Ellana had never been a firm believer of religion but was now suddenly wishing she had been. What comes after this? Watching colours pass by her eyes in a void of darkness wasn’t enough, she needed something more.

Her memories were clouded. How had she come to be here? What had happened to her? She chased after fragments, clinging to them desperately in an attempt to remember something. Stormy eyes filled her recollection, the colour of them unforgettable and forever branded into her mind. She frantically tried to remember anything that had happened to her, her head aching with the attempt.

More quickly than she was ready for, her panic manifested itself into a series of images too fast for any mortal eye to see. Flashes of teeth, blood, and unbearable pain flooded into her memory.

Ellana’s eyes flew open as she shot up into a sitting position, clutching the silk sheets beneath her, chest heaving for breath. She remembered it all now. Was it a dream? Had it really happened? Maybe it had been a very horrible, horrible nightmare. Nightmares don’t usually bite like that, however.

Her hand flew to her neck and felt for the wound, but there was none. Only the smooth expanse of her skin as she tenderly felt around for anything . Trembling she lowered her hand to her chest and felt her heart beating like a semi-automatic gun. It was hammering in her chest. What was going on here? The memory was so fresh in her mind that it easily could have happened seconds ago. This is all too strange , she thought.

She laid back down into the plush cushioning of the bed, trying to calm her racing heart, and wondered where she was. The silky black sheets and heavy curtains closing around the bed were unfamiliar to her. Her hands traced over the smoothness of the bedding, able to feel every thread and weave under her finger tips.

Maybe if I close my eyes and go to sleep, this will all have been a dream when I wake, she thought. Closing her eyes, she rendered herself into a state of total relaxation, but she could not quiet her mind enough to fall asleep. It would not let her. Her mind was filling with the voices of many, as if they whispered directly into her ears.

Ellana bolted back upright, pillows tumbling around her. Eyes wide, she glanced around trying to pinpoint the location of the voices but could find none.

‘Don’t be a fool, Abelas,’

‘They’ll never notice if I….’

‘The ser will be angry if I don’t…’

The voices seemed to be coming from all directions at once, and she slammed her hands over her ears in an attempt to quiet it. She was hearing things, had to be. However, the more she concentrated on picking out the voices the more clear and concise they became. She could hear bits and pieces of conversation, some louder than others.

‘I wonder if I should tell her there’s something in her teeth,’

The longer she listened, the more light-headed and bewildered she became. A shudder passed through her and her stomach growled, a feeling of great need glancing through her, however short-lived it was. It was the same dizzying feeling she’d had as she’d drunk from the mysterious man’s wrist.

She stilled and her hands dropped to her sides. She had drunken blood, a man’s blood. Real blood, and she’d liked it. Loved it even. Craved it. She shook her head as if to dismiss the thought, not wanting to think of that right now. Too many different scents were assaulting her senses. She needed to find out what happening to her.  

She could smell the detergent on the freshly laundered bed linens, the muskiness of the old velvet hanging around the bed. The strongest of the scents, however, was coming from somewhere very close, beyond the safety of the curtains. Leather and spices, mixed with the undeniable musk of a man hit her like an aphrodisiac. She felt giddy and held her head in her hands, long tresses of hair falling over her shoulder to tickle her forearms.

The darkness around her was making her nervous, she didn’t like being unable to see. She lifted her head and her elven eyes attempted to adjust to the darkness. She paused. Her eyes flit around apprehensively, and she backed up against the head of the bed. She looked around, assessing the environment with sparkling eyes. Every fold, every thread of the heavy curtains that were blocking out any light, was visible to her eye. Even with the improved sight of an elf, that normally would not have been possible in such low lighting.

She didn’t understand what was happening to her. Her senses had been multiplied tenfold.

She ran her fingers over the silkiness of the sheets again and marvelled at the intricate feel of it. She slowly brought her hands to her face to study them and gasped at their ghostly appearance. Her once sun-kissed skin was now as pale as a halla’s fur, nearly glowing in the darkness enveloping her.

Her mind raced, reaching for any sort of conclusion. She wondered again if she was dead, but figured that likely was not the case considering she was fully conscious and had a strong heartbeat. Thinking maybe it was a dream, she pinched her leg and yelped. Nope, definitely awake .

A deep chuckle pulled her back from her thoughts, and she froze. Someone else was in the room, and rolled her eyes at herself. Of course there’s someone here, Ellana. You can smell them .

Slowly kneeling, she crawled forward to the edge of the bed and drew back the heavy curtains of the canopy. Sitting in the most opulent velvet armchair she had ever seen, was the man who’d brought her here. The man with the grey-blue eyes.

The chair was turned to face her, and she stared at him in shock. Mouth hanging open slightly, she found herself to be mesmerized by his eyes. A light ring of vibrant blue seemed to glow around inner edge of the iris, an unnatural light not common to the living.

The recollection of those eyes hanging over her hung in the back of her mind he regarded her. His scalp was hairless and smooth, long pointed ears much like her own framing his face. A smirk played on his lips, and she couldn’t draw her gaze from the dimple of his chin. A light smattering of freckles spotted his pale skin.

He had one leg crossed over the other, elbows resting on the armrests of the chair, his hands steepled in front of him. He was impeccably well dressed. A fitted black silk suit jacket clung to his arms in a flattering manner, unbuttoned to reveal a dark green brocade vest. Slim back pants ran down the length of his legs. Her gaze lowered from his chin to the top few buttons of the black dress shirt he had unbuttoned.

Her cheeks flushed lightly as she wondered if the freckles followed down his chest as well, wanting to get a better look. The proportions of his face were very typical to most elves, though the bridge of his nose was slightly broader and flatter than most, his ears longer and more pointed. He painted a perfect picture of what the ancient elves were thought to be.

He had spoken to her, yet the words had not registered.

It wasn’t a dream , she thought.

His smirk widened. “No, it was not.”

Ellana squeaked childishly and blushed, a rosy red encompassing her pale cheeks. Creators, was that smirk ever sexy. Reassuring whispers resurfaced to her memory, comforting words that he’d whispered in her ear. The blush rose up to her ears. She was embarrassed with herself. She didn’t normally swoon over men so easily, but something about him was so achingly familiar and irresistible. She couldn’t place it.

She slipped off the bed and stood firmly before him, the lacey shift she was wearing tumbling down to her thighs as she rose. She paused only for a second to realize she hadn’t been wearing the shift before, and that she hadn’t dressed herself in it. She put it aside and frowned, quickly becoming in danger of losing her temper.

“Where am I?” she asked him. “Who are you? What happened? Am I dead, is this a dream?” She paused to catch her breath then continued, “What did you do to me!?” she shouted. Her voice rose to a glass-shattering volume as anger and confusion poured from her, and she winced. She had not intended to raise her voice but the anger had swept down on her so quickly that she couldn’t stop it.

The man rose from his chair in a graceful manner and hushed her by placing a cold finger upon her lips.

Any modicum of anger she still felt drained from her at his touch.

“You’re so cold…” she said softly. It was unnatural how cold he was.

“Yes, as are you,” he replied, and took one of her hands in his own. Gently, as if not to break her, he placed it on his face, then on her own to compare. He was right. Her skin was frigid with the coldness that only came with death. No warmth at all.

He stroked her cheek with his thumb, such a soothing feeling. All tension left her body and she relaxed beneath his calming touch, her eyes getting lost in his. This isn’t right, I don’t know this man... she weakly thought to herself.

Having suddenly realized what he was doing, he drew away quickly. His sudden lack of presence made her frown.

A few moments of silence passed between them as they gazed upon each other. His eyes were eating her alive, appreciatively passing over her face and down to her chest where the small shift did little to cover her. He clasped his hands behind his back as his smirk returned.

She stared down at her hands. Her body had changed, that much was obvious, though into what she had no idea. The fear that had been gripping the back of her mind was slowly peeling away like the skin of an orange. This man had a calming aura.

“I am Solas, if there is to be introductions,” he suddenly said.

She blinked and looked back up at him. Solas...his name was so familiar to her. Realization dawned on her as the memory flooded back to her mind as if it had happened moments ago. Sera had been doing a research paper on supernatural beings for one of her college courses. The topic had made Sera extremely uncomfortable on multiple levels, thinking most of it to be total ‘horse shite’, as she’d put it. Giving into curiosity herself, she’d picked up one of the books on Vampirism and read on its history. His name had been in that book. Solas had been one of the Evanuris, the most powerful vampires to have ever existed, or so it said, anyway. Solas, also known as Fen'Harel, the Dread Wolf. The rebel amongst the oldest of them.

She swallowed and took a step back from him, the backs of her legs pressing against the bed. Everything was making sense. The heightened senses, the churning feeling in her stomach that was telling her to feed . The horrendous creature that had attacked her, then the blur that had come afterward.

“Fen'Harel ma ghilana…” she whispered. “You’re Fen'Harel. You’re the Dread Wolf.” She was dizzy with epiphany.

He smiled at her sadly and bowed his head slightly, as if declaring to the truth of it.

“Yes,” he replied. “Though I was Solas first. Fen'Harel came later. An insult I took as a badge of pride. The Dread Wolf inspired hope in my friends and fear in my enemies…”

She almost couldn’t believe what she was hearing. If she had not been there, had seen it with her own eyes, it would all seem like a silly tale. However, she knew it to be true, now.

“You warred with them for centuries. That’s what the legends say,” she said.

“And now you know it to be true. What is the old Dalish curse? May the Dread Wolf take you?”

She sighed as she gazed into his eyes. There was such loneliness there.

“I’ve read the stories in books. Are they true?”

He nodded, and lifted a hand as if to touch her, but dropped it back to his side.

“I sought to set mortals free from slavery to maddened creatures. I broke the chains of all who wished to join me. The Evanuris called me Fen-Harel, and when they finally went too far, I locked them away and banished them forever.”

“You said that they went too far. What did they do that made you move against them?” she asked, curiosity piqued. No one in living memory had ever encountered one of these ancient vampires, all stories were myth and legend rejected by most other people. She wouldn’t squander the chance to learn more of the truth from him.

His sad smile slipped back into place. “They killed the woman I loved most dearly,” he said, a small chuckle following it. “A crime for which an eternity of torment is the only fitting punishment.”

“The woman you loved? Was she also one of the Evanuris?”

“No, though she was like me. She cared for mortals, she protected them. She was the voice of reason. And in their lust for power and control over me, they killed her.”

Ellana shifted uncomfortably, hunger and unease gritting in her stomach. “So you locked them away? You didn’t kill them?”

“The most ancient of us do not die so easily. The Evanuris are banished forever, paying the ultimate price for their misdeeds.”

“I see,” she said, silence falling over them once more. She perched herself on the edge of the bed.

“So am I like you now, then? A vampire?” she asked him quietly, staring down at her hands.

“It was not what I wanted for you, vhenan, but I was left with little other choice.”

She glanced up at him. “You called me that before. What do you mean you had little other choice? Were you following me?”

He faltered, that took but a moment to recover, a stoic mask falling over his face. “That is a story for another day,” he said.

“I would like to hear it now,” she snapped. She massaged her temple with her hand.

“Another day, I beg of you.”

She pulled a deep breath through her nose and exhaled with annoyance. She looked back to him and nodded.

“Come,” he said, and lifted her to her feet, pulling her over to a large, elegant mirror hanging on a nearby wall.

Her breath caught in her throat as she caught her reflection in the glass. Her hair was cascading down around her shoulders in shiny waves, more healthy looking than she’d ever seen it before. She pulled a strand of it through her fingers and marvelled at the softness of it. If she didn’t know any better, it looked like it was several inches longer than it had been before.

She gave an inquisitive look to his reflection standing behind her. “How long have I been here?” she asked.

“Three nights.”

She stared back down at her, bewildered, and he laughed. She caught his gaze in the mirror, his cheek dimpling from the laughter. He was so very handsome when he smiled. His hands rested on her shoulders as the hair spilled from her fingers and she resumed her self-inspection. Her skin was smooth and flawless, any and all scars she’d once had faded and invisible, as if they had never been there at all. The light spackling of freckles still graced her shoulders, now a dark contrast to the paleness of her skin. There was no trace of the mangled bite on her neck.

She leaned in closer, her mouth falling open as she looked into her own eyes. Though the same colour as before, they seemed almost brighter, more vibrant; a luminous glowing around the inner iris lighting them up. Her vallaslin was gone, her bare face staring back at her. A finger traced where it had once been.

She first hesitated, but then drew back her upper lip with a finger to reveal a pair of elongated canine teeth. She ran her tongue over one and then pricked her finger on it, a pool of blood forming on the place where she’d been pricked. They would easily break through skin or draw blood. Hunger gnawed at her belly, and she wondered if she would need to kill innocent people to sustain her own life. The thought of it made her feel nauseous.

She took a step back away from the mirror, accidentally closing the distance between her and Solas so that she was pressed back against his chest. His hands drifted down to her biceps and squeezed gently. Her own appearance made her anxious. She slowly raised her hands to study them, turning them over so they were palm down. Her fingernails were like glass, almost liquefied, a solid lacquer.

She chanced a glance at Solas in the mirror and found he was gazing at her intensely. She swallowed and spoke softly, her melodic accent ringing in the room about them. “If you are one of the Evanuris, Solas, then what does that make me?”

He smiled deliciously and lowered his head to a pointed ear to whisper into it, “My paramour, if you wish it to be so.”

Ellana was speechless. As little as she knew about the man, it didn’t seem to bother her overmuch. Something about him was still painfully familiar and she couldn’t place her finger on what. She felt comfortable and at ease in his embrace, like she belonged there. He was a beautiful creature, so tortuously exquisite that he didn’t even seem real, like a statue. Ageless.

Her eyes fluttered shut as she felt his breath on her neck. Her head tilted back and rested on his shoulder, face tilted away from him. She was offering him something she didn’t even understand, but she didn’t care. She longed to feel him penetrate her soft neck.

He spoke softly, bring her out of her daze, “You are the most beautiful creature I have laid my eyes upon, in my long life.” He paused and smiled. “Ma ane ir ina'lan'ehn,” he whispered.

Ellana blushed and looked at her feet, downright flattered. Did he realize the kind of effect he was having on her? He did not seem like the kind of man who was unaware of the effect his presence would have on people.

Slowly, she turned from the mirror and faced him, looking him in the eye. She could stare in those stormy eyes an eternity. She had more questions that needed to be answered, however.

“To be clear, you’re a...vampire?” she asked him, a thick lump forming in her throat. His hands were still resting on her arms.

“Yes,” he stated simply.

Ellana shook her head, already knowing it was true. She felt as if her mind was going in circles, completely unable to accept the reality of her situation. She'd been gone for three days. Surely her friends would be worried about her by now. She had no immediate family to worry of, but she hoped her friends at least would have noticed her absence.

Tears welled in her eyes, doubt clouding her judgement. What if they hadn’t noticed? What if no one had gone looking for her? She fought silently to keep her tears back, choking back a sob. Her life had been taken from her, thrust into a new one she wasn't sure she completely understood yet. Perhaps she never would. Would she be forever trapped to the light of the moon, unable to see the sun again? The night would be her hunting ground from here forward.

His hands trailed up and down her arms in a calming fashion. “Your questions will be answered in time, vhenan. You will not be able to walk in the light of the sun, as you fear. You will have to leave behind the life you lived before.”

She locked eyes with his and raised a brow. “How…?” She gave him a puzzled look. It was as if he was reading her thoughts like an open book.

“Your mind is laid open, for anyone who wishes it, to read,” he said. “I will teach you how to close your mind.” His hands trailed down and took her petite hands in his larger ones. “There is no need to be afraid. No harm will come to you here. Your emotions and senses are heightened, but in time you will have the skill to control them effortlessly.”

He was watching her with fascination, watching the rise and fall of her chest become steady as he patiently waited for her to calm. When she was once again at peace, he spoke to her softly, “You would have died had I left you there. I could now allow it.”

She looked to him quizzically.

“Another of our kind, a Feral, fed from you. Left you for dead, which we are never to do. You must leave the mortal with a chance for life.”

He paused and swallowed. “I came upon you perchance, gave you the blood you need to live, eternally. As an immortal.”

Ellana narrowed her eyes, highly doubting that he had been there by chance. It had been all to convenient. She’d bet a nug’s arse that he had been watching her.

He smirked at her, a fang glinting in the light. “You were unconscious for three days while you changed.”

Doubt aside, she was astonished. He had saved her life and she could not be any more grateful. He had given her a gift, another chance to live. She would not waste this opportunity, this second chance.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

He gazed at her with his grey-blue eyes. “Whatever for?” he asked in musically poetic voice.

“For saving me. If it weren’t for you, I would be dead.”

Solas nodded and raised a hand to caress her cheek with the back of a finger. She sighed and leaned into the touch. She didn’t bother giving him her name, since he already seemed to know it. Her stomach was swirling with near unrestrained hunger now and she whimpered, holding a hand over her abdomen.

“Are you hungry?” he asked her.

She was ravenous. More hungry than she had been for anything before in her life. Her belly burned, and her veins were lighting with an uncomfortable ache she couldn’t place. She doubted a cheeseburger would quell this hunger raging up inside of her. Her fingers were tingling with the feeling of it. She could smell the scent of his flesh, blood flowing through veins. It called to her. A flash of exasperation passed through her, and her gaze wandered to the vein of his neck. The feeling was getting more and more intense with each passing second, growing more weary by the minute. It was peculiar how she had been able to ignore it before. However, now that the hunger was the only thing consuming her thought, she did not think she would be able to stop until she was satiated.

She groaned when she thought of the implications of what she must do. The primal instinct coiling around in her to feed was overwhelming, but she didn’t think she would be able to bring herself to hurting an innocent person. It disgusted her, filled her with shame. Would she need to live the rest of eternity feeling like this?

Solas observed her tenseness and tilted her chin to make her look at him.

“The first weeks are always the worst, but it will pass.” He took her hand in his once again, and twirled her around in one swift movement. He lead her to the door of the room.

“Come,” he said. “It’s time for you to feed.”

Ellana stared at Solas with apprehension as he lead her through the door. What have I gotten myself into?