Lord Thorne gave me some time to myself. At first, I spent it perusing the books in my room; it seemed that he’d brought over quite a few from Earth, all hardbacks, mostly first-editions. Many of them were in English, some in their original language. I tried reading a couple H. P. Lovecraft stories, but found that I simply couldn’t focus.
My attendant came and went, sometimes bringing me tea or water or snacks, other times stoking the fire or asking if I was warm enough sitting out on the balcony. It was cold on that mountaintop, what with it being autumn, and the breeze coming in from the sea. I say mountain, but that wasn’t entirely accurate. I looked like a mountain when one approached from Rosenthal Village, but from the back of the castle, it was more like a cliff that reached out over the beach.
I wondered whether I would be allowed out of the castle, and under what conditions. I also wondered what they had planned for me if I refused to feed Ingrid; they could have simply held me down and let her drink from me, so why go about it as though it were any other request? Additionally, how often would I need to share my blood before they were done with me? What would happen to me afterwards?
My mind was still racing with questions when the attendant appeared in the doorway leading out to the balcony. “Lady Moss…?”
I looked up from the book in my hands– I had stopped focusing on it ages ago. “Yes, Claire?” I insisted on calling her by her name, not ‘girl’ or ‘servant.’ I think it unnerved her that I didn’t want to be served, but I wasn’t going to change my mind.
“Milady, are you all right? You seem… troubled.”
I shrugged. “I have a ton of questions is all.” The I looked out at the horizon, where the sun had just set. Claire was still human, so it made sense that she’d been assigned to me; it made it so that I was allowed out in the daylight. “Will Lord Thorne be back soon?”
“Yes, milady. Dinner has arrived as well. Shall I bring it outside, or would you like to come in?”
“Out here, please. I’m enjoying the fresh air too much to go back in now.”
Claire bowed and went back in to get the food tray. I had tried telling her that she didn’t need to bow to me, but she refused to be any less formal, so I let her do what she needed to do. After the way the werewolves had taken me, I was worried that I’d be in some sort of cell or locked room. Instead, I was being treated as an esteemed guest. I could even leave my room– I was followed when I did, and warned away from certain areas, but still, the freedom was nice to see.
Lord Thorne arrived soon after Claire had my food set out before me. He walked onto the balcony in graceful, sweeping strides, and bowed to me.
“Good evening to you, Lady Moss,” he intoned.
I paused in buttering my toast and looked up at him. “You, too. Did you manage to get some sleep?”
“I did, milady, thank you.” Then he gestured to the chair nearby. “May I?”
“It’s your castle,” I told him. “Sit down, take a load off.”
He gave me a half-smile as he sat down. “Your generation has such a different way of speaking.”
“Don’t all generations?” I pointed out.
“Well… yes, I suppose. But you are so… informal. And your phrasing is idiomatic.”
I nodded. “Yet you still understand me.”
“I do. I visit Earth quite often, actually.”
“Among other things. If you’re worried about me killing people, it is rare that I drain anyone completely. I much prefer to establish partners from which to feed now and then.”
“None of them know what I truly am. I show them a good time, as you might say, and I take care of them. When I see them again, they are pleased to know that I will be giving them pleasure.”
“I see…” I glanced his way, then back at my soup. “What else do yo do there besides feeding? Do you ever find fledglings there?”
He gave me a sultry grin and steepled his fingers, then crossed one leg over the other and relaxed in his chair. “I very rarely take a Terran as a fledgling, Lady Moss. The same is true of the rest of my bloodline. I might add that very few of them have leave to visit Earth, and most only go when they are at my side.”
“So… You… what?”
He thought for a moment before answering. “I marry, from time to time. Unlike some of the vampire stories traded around on Earth, I am able to father children.”
“You have kids…” I paused as I processed what he’d told me. “But you don’t sow your wild oats; it’s not about getting your genetics out there, is it?”
He shook his head. “When I marry, my wife takes my name, and we give it to our children, who pass it on.”
“I see, so you like to pass your name down.”
“I would even go so far as to say that I need to, Lady Moss. Just as Tiernan has his descendants, so too do I.”
I nodded. “That means you have two bloodline, right? One of vampires, and one of family…”
He gave me a faint smile. “You have a keen mind, milady. I should also add that I’ve read some of your work.”
I felt my cheeks flush. It was strange to think that some of the types of subjects I wrote about were reading my stories.
“You needn’t be shy about it, Lady Moss,” he went on. “Your belief in magic and mysticism is part of why you are here. Tierney Ríocht is lucky to have someone like you coming here; I have no doubts that you will keep things interesting.”
“‘Interesting,’ huh? I Don’t know whether to feel flattered or worried.”
He smiled again. “To think, that you would be here, in my castle, and not demanding to be released. You may very bring about change for the better.”
“Brom and Jean-Marc mentioned something about that,” I said. “There was something in the ballad about me being different. Do you… do you have taht part of the ballad?
Lord Thorne expressed changed to one of mild surprise. “They haven’t read all of it to you?”
“Well… No. A lot of it, yeah. Just not the later parts. It’s a lot to take in at once.”
“How disappointing,” he said. “While I understand the reasoning, you should know what is written bout you.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “so do you have a copy of the ballad?”
“I do,” he replied with a nod. “But you’ve asked me so many questions, Lady Moss, and I would appreciate a chance to ask one of my own.”
“Ummm…. okay. Yeah, that’s fair. What is it?”
“Have you given any serious consideration to helping Ingrid and Brielle?” he asked, his voice going deeper, the gravity of the situation evident. “To be clear, I mean to ask you whether you will share your blood with them.”
“Well…” I turned away, gazing out at the sea.
“I was hoping to hear your thoughts on the matter before your friends arrived and tried to influence your decision.”
“What?” I gasped. “My– You mean Stefan?!”
A knowing grin crossed the vampire lord’s face, and he nodded slowly. “The blond one with the axes? He is a mighty warrior, I daresay. And he is not alone; the other musicians are with him, and two darling young Terrans. They’ve just entered the last stop before the gates to the castle: my village of Rosenthal.”