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Familial Tethers

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Regis was wrapped in darkness once again, though instead of consuming him, filling him with cold dread, it enveloped him in warmth, welcoming him back like an old friend. The darkness felt heavy and familiar. Safe. However a fleeting thought shifted through the peaceful blank slate of his mind. The thought stirred in him a momentary unease like he should know something about the darkness; that they had joined before under much different circumstances. Though before he could grasp the thread of thought, a soft trill followed by a low rumble began to stir him awake.

He shifted his body, curling tighter into the skins and furs that surrounded him, enjoying the warmth and comfort the nest provided him. It was too soon. He didn’t want to wake. He felt as if he’d just fallen asleep. The dreams hadn’t even come yet…

Another more insistent rumble. Something whined off to his side. Regis felt the nest vibrate and the furs around him began to shift as something warm nuzzled against his face. He clenched his eyes tighter, claws gripping the skins as he buried his face in their warmth.

“Nnnnn,” he keened, warm and content in the soft furs. The musky scent of earth, sweet spices and home overwhelmed him as the nuzzling became more persistent. A solid weight shifted and lay upon him then. Safe. Love. Soft trills edged him further awake, along with a vibrating rumble that he now felt throughout his body along with warm puffs of air that ruffled his own fur and tickled his ears. Love he sent back through their familial bond.

Regis slowly opened his eyes, thin lips pulling back in what might be considered a toothy smile as he blinked up at his Mother who was enveloping him with her body and wings. His father lay against his side, puffing warm breath against his neck and ruffling his hair. Regis let an excited trill escape him as he shifted, sitting up so he could brush cheeks with his Mother and inhale her spicy scent. Love. This was home.

Their cave was dark, but instinctively he knew it was dusk, the sun was setting, and the moon was full. The time for the hunt had come. His family, and the warren they’d been adopted into were rising, preparing to set out. His parents practically vibrated with energy in their eagerness as they shifted restlessly. Full moon hunts were considered special, a time where their instincts, abilities and senses were at their highest---hence why they had taken to their more bestial bat forms.

Regis struggled against the weight of his Mother, fighting to free himself from her and the furs. Excitement. Need. He trilled and hissed, struggling. His Mother chirped with amusement, finally shifting her weight and settling back on her haunches. Settling on his own, Regis blinked wide eyes at her and keened. Need. Want. He looked back over his shoulder, eyes catching his Father’s momentarily before staring longingly in the direction of the cave exit. Keening again, he turned back to his Mother with pleading eyes. Want!

Off to the side, his Father hissed and his Mother let out a low growl baring her fangs. The message was clear though Regis resolutely disagreed. He let out an angry trill, clacking his jaws together and pulsing frustration and need. He wanted to go too, he wanted to hunt! He was old enough by now! He could fly for an hour without tiring! And now he can turn into mist and hide if he needed to! And the need to drink, hunt for himself---it was becoming almost unbearable!

He could do this, why couldn’t they see! He was nearly an adult now! Not some young fledgling. His claws began to knead the skins anxiously and he narrowed his eyes. Regis was just as eager and restless as his parents. He let out a deep growl of his own, fangs bared and his whole body tense. Muscles coiled as if he were ready to pounce or take flight. NEED. RESTLESS!

A white flash and searing pain sent him tumbling out of the nest to the cold flat rock below. He could feel a shadow towering over him, but he was too disoriented and preoccupied by the pain in his ear to pay attention. Then he froze, shivering when he smelt it. Blood. His blood. He could feel its warmth, trickling from his ear, down through his fur onto his chest. Sickly sweet it was and not at all appetizing.

The shadow loomed nearer and it was then he realized it was his Father. Emiel.

Protect. Fear. Pain. Protect!!!

Regis cringed, frozen.

Emiel settled over Regis, claws and wings on either side as his Father’s weight almost swallowed him.

Protect.

Regis stared up into his Father’s red eyes, pupils blown wide and muzzle flaring as he took in Regis own scent.

Fear he sent back, stretching his neck out and baring it in submission.

His Father’s warm muzzle brushed against him, a moist tongue shooting out to clean off the blood and seal the wound. Protect. Love. Patience.

Regis keened sad and frustrated. Another muzzle brushed against him followed by a quick lick.

Love. Protect.

His Mother and Father stared down at him, both offering him low trills of sympathy before letting him up. He scrambled, stiff, shaken but whole. Understanding. He knows why he can’t go out. Not because he’s young or too little. But because of him.

The Elder. The Elder wanted him. The Elder had requested an audience, which left his parents no choice but to obey. They brought Regis before The Elder who in turn dismissed his parents entirely, claiming Regis as his own. He didn’t remember much after that. Either because he blacked it out, or because he was too young. All he knew is a fight ensued, his Father refusing, and his Mother wailing in horror as The Elder made to grab him. His Mother and Father shifted, as did The Elder, and somewhere in the midst it all went black.

He’d woken days later on the back of his Mother, chill wind ripping at his skin, his head pounding and body stiff. His parents gave him but the barest of information. They were on the run, injured and on the run---anathema to their kind---at least to their kind in Toussaint.

They headed north to Rivia, where they managed to find a series of massive, deep caves sequestered in the mountains of Mahakam. There they found a large warren of lesser vampires that seemed to tolerate their presence. Relieved and desperate, his parents hunkered down to heal and hunt. When they did they’d bring extra back for the warren, to foster trust and attempt to form some kind of kinship. Eventually, the warren embraced them as their own and the caves of Mahakam became home.

Meanwhile Regis was restless and afraid. The Elder had stirred something in him primal and unrelenting that froze him to his core. He could dare say his parents felt the same, always sheltering him, keeping him either out of sight, or at the very least in one or another’s presence. They made a nest which became Regis safe place among the bustle of the warren. It smelt of earth and sweet spices. It smelt of home. For the longest time he dare not leave it, less The Elder sense him, find him somehow, despite his withdrawing from the tribal bond they had instinctively shared.

Over time he relaxed. He played with the katakana pups and sparred with the bruxa. He’d enjoy the books his parents would bring him on occasion after the hunt. Several of which is what spurred his interest in herbs and alchemy. The warren would teach him about his instincts, and his parents taught him when to use or temper them. Eventually, tension eased, he became confident. Restless.

Twenty-three moon cycles had passed since their arrival. This was to be the twenty-fourth. Almost two years sequestered and hidden. He felt too sheltered…. He felt alone. And the urge to hunt for himself, the instinct to feed was becoming too great.

He keened again, long and low, barely audible if not for their incredibly sensitive hearing. His claws kneaded the rock. The clicks and scratches echoed off the walls.

“Phlssss…” Need. Longing. Thirst.

Patience. Love. His Mother drew him close. Protect. Patience. She nuzzled him, wuffing his hair with a puff of warm breath. Safe.

Regis trilled out a sigh, tension leaving his fuzzy body as his Mother held him. She pulsed waves of peace and comfort at him through their bond, soothing his restless nerves. He puffed out a warm breath against her chest. Defeated, he pulsed sadness and yearning back at her as he pulled out of her embrace and shuffled back to their nest.

He felt his Father’s eyes follow him, though Regis chose to ignore it. His heart clenched at the low rumble that followed which was his Father pulsing strength and comfort at him.

It was so hard to watch them go as he settled back into the skins and covered himself with the furs. Especially on a full moon night when all he wanted to do was hunt and fly free.