Durand's Story Pt. 03bymadam_noe©
He felt the call deep in his bones. Durand had been a vampire for 515 years, and for the last 340 he had been the lone vampire in his land. Since the night of his rebirth, he had never heard a whisper from his maker, his sire, the evil woman Layla who had snatched him from the jaws of a warrior's death and foisted upon him the eternal damnation of preying on humans.
Now she was in his head, her call a wounding headache that throbbed through his skull with every moment. Or it had, until it stopped, silenced. Was she dead? Was he free from her at last?
If he still believed in a God he'd be on his knees thanking him for her death, but he had to see for himself.
Europe had changed. When he'd been banished he'd only wandered through from Asia, and the buildings had seemed strange. Gothic, they called it, the buildings impossibly high because of the strange beams that supported walls from the outside. Buttresses, they were called, their workings secrets of Masons well-kept.
Now it was a sight. In the land he'd been banished to, the black death had not touched the people, but in the rest of the world it had killed nearly half of all humans. Even now there were fewer villages, less people.
Less obstacles for a vampire.
He traveled by foot mostly, catching horse-drawn carts where they where available, though most of the lands he passed through were too poor to have a single cart. He passed mountains, lowlands, all to find her body, the remnants of Layla, mistress of the night, his own personal demon.
With every step he questioned his resolve. Would he really wish to find her dead? After all, he had lived long enough to see ages pass, governments collapse, societies die. Even now, Europeans were daring to tread on the shores he had been sent to.
Yes, he decided. He had not been given the choice of this life, and if he had, he would have chosen death. Now that this damned life had been thrust upon him, he would no more waste it than he would have wasted his true human life.
The call led him to Hungary. Here the people were quaint and proud, beautiful and hard working, their features a unique mix of broad and dainty he came to greatly admire. Dark haired and eyed, the sat around campfires telling tales to scare one another.
Many of them told tales of vampyre, which made him smile. Horrid beasts, withered, wizened, and ancient-looking who preyed on virgins. He snorted at the thought. Give him a seasoned woman any day of the week, one who knew what she was about and appreciated the same in her partner.
But as he drew nearer to the place of the call, a disturbing tale met his ears. A countess who was fully human, but had an insatiable thirst for blood in the quest for eternal youth. Tales of hundreds of virgin girls going to their deaths in her castle were told nightly, even to foreign travelers such as him.
She went by the name Bathory, but Durand began to wonder if he had found his Layla.
On the last leg of his journey he found a guide willing to lead him through the low, rocky slopes to the fortress he had seen in his dreams. Cachtice Castle it was called, and his stout, dark-eyed guide shivered. "It is there."
"Thank you, my good man. I owe you a debt."
"My name is Antal, and I will take coin. If you return, ask for me in the village, and I will guide you."
Durand slipped his hand under his cape, but then lunged, fangs out. Antal screamed in terror, calling the word vampyre again and again. Durand drank, savoring the taste of fear, spiking the punch of the peasant's blood.
He drank until the man was weak, but still very alive. Durand bent down and laid him on the cool ground, eyes open and staring weakly. He felt his power crawl up his spine, and knew his eyes shone like light sapphires in the night.
"Forget me," he breathed, and the peasant nodded. Then the man fainted.
Durand stuffed gold coins into his pockets and turned to look at the castle. Long and low, it was bright in the moonlight, and dominated the hill. Alzbeta Bathory lived there, a woman who had slaughtered hundreds of peasants, her murder spree going unnoticed until she ran out of peasants, and turned to virgin girls of the nobility.
He called his power again, imagining a typical great hall, and a tingle roared through his being. When he opened his eyes, he was in a pitch black hall.
"Layla!" He roared, his vampire voice shaking the stones. Nothing responded except his echo, and the skittering of rats.
The stench was incredible. Stale blood, rotting flesh, food from abandoned feasts rotting in untouched rushes across the floor. Even the corpses of dogs rotted in one corner, the animals kept to clean up after feasts. From their smell he knew their was poison in the food.
So this Bathory was not drinking the blood, merely bathing in it. Just how did Layla fit in?
As her name flashed across his mind his fists curled and his fangs extended again. Turning from the hall he sought the stairs and climbed them. It was a cold winter, and the nobles of the house would be locked into tiny bedrooms, huddled under blankets before roaring fires.
His step faltered for a short moment. How he missed his new home. The people were nomadic, moving away from the winter, never burning fires inside their temporary homes, save the longhouses of the northwest. Here in the "civilized" world humans, prey, slept so close to the ancient danger of fire. Would that his brethren could see his way of life, and Durand knew none would ever return here.
"Durand," a disembodied voice whispered.
Within a second his back was to the wall, his sword out. Footsteps pounded heavily down the hall and he whipped his head to see a tiny figure approach with great confidence.
The sword fell in shock as he saw the shining emblem of the king on her simple dress. She was still a sheriff, and he was an outlaw. "I was called here by my maker."
"Yes, you were, but with my help."
"What do you mean? Is this a trap? Malaya, I am older and more powerful, I will fight to the death if I must." His centuries of banishment had let him ponder his destiny for hours, and knowing how dire the events of his past were, he meant to survive to fulfill it.
"No, Durand. We need your help. Come, you must see in order to understand."
For the first time in half a century, Durand's last meal threatened to resurface. Living with the tribes of his new homeland had humanized him. He saw the beauty of a simple human soul, the struggle to survive as a bright flame in all too short a time. He saw the waste of a life as brutal and wretched.
The room he stood in bore the signs of thousands of lives wasted. There was a bathing tub filled with congealing blood and human dirt. Beneath that smell was the smell of the blood of thousands, the stench of a great battlefield in one small tower room.
There was something familiar about one scent, but combined with the others he couldn't place it.
"What has she done?"
"She is a human problem now. Countess Bathory has slain thousands of young girls. Peasants at first, but when she turned to daughters of noble houses the humans intervened. She was walled up in a room, where she is now. Servants were assigned to be guards and bring her food. We made sure they are vampires."
"Could she not escape in the daylight?"
Malaya shook her head. "Bathory has become vampire."
Shock froze him. "From bathing in blood? This is not how it's done!"
She sat on the tub of rancid blood like it was a delicate couch, casual and comfortable. This was an eerie small woman with soulless black eyes. "No, the idea was given to her by one of ours. One who told her not that this was the key to Turn, but this was a way to prove to her. One who bathed in the fear of the victims, sipped the blood, grew in power.
"Once the humans intervened and walled her up inside here, she returned."
Understanding dawned. "Layla. But why?"
Malaya solemnly nodded. "Your sire. We don't know exactly, other than a guess. Layla was old, not quite an elder, but very powerful. When the king absorbed the Binders into our ranks, they became the elite, the powerful. Layla fell from favor."
"So Bathory was a Binder?"
Again Malaya nodded. "Fully untrained, and unaware of her power. The king has never shared with us how he stole the power of a Binder, but apparently, Layla sought to do the same."
"But this madness means death."
Malaya's eyes slid to a far point in the room. "Many have who have fallen have turned to madness. None have tortured a Binder so, driven her so mad that even as a vampire, she must live until humans die and she fades from memory. The king hopes she will emerge in thirty years sane, but I highly doubt this Bathory will survive it."
"Where is she?"
Her eyes snapped back. "Layla or Bathory?"
"Either, both, Layla," he said hurriedly, swiping a hand through his dark hair. He'd grown it as long as the natives in his new lands, far longer than a local man's, longer than even Malaya, and he noticed the lusty glint in her eyes as she followed the movement of the strands.
"They are one in the same."
"What!?!" His roar shook the walls, letting loose dust and the howls of distant wolves, many of which sounded more human than lupine.
"She killed Layla and absorbed her before we could stop her. Apparently, somehow, the power of the deaths she caused has made her strong, very strong. Layla was nearly a thousand years old, and her body was ripped in half."
His heartbeat was slow since his own Turn, but now it raced at nearly a calm human speed, dangerously fast for a vampire. "What do you need me for? Gather all loyal vampires in the area and kill her. Hell, open her cell to sunlight yourself."
Beginning to fidget, the scent of nerves rose off Malaya in waves. "We sent vampires, she bound their souls and killed them. We sent Binders and she stole their powers. She could very well be the most powerful vampire in existence, now that this powerful Binder body has been somehow taken over by Layla."
Were it possible, Durand would have paled. "What can I do?"
"The Binders have not merged as successfully as I would have liked, any of us would have liked. Many have gone mad as vampires. As they die, the king absorbs their power, but numbers dwindle. To our knowledge, all the established lines of Binders have been found and Turned. Any new Binders will be mutants, freaks of nature. I-"
"Does she have golden hair?" Durand interrupted.
Her laughter cascaded out with the musical tinge of vampire. "She is as dark as you or I. In fact the only Binder I know with golden hair is a Viking. He was Turned long ago, kept his powers secret. The king has stolen them as punishment."
His fists unclenched. There was time for his destiny, by the new calendar followed by Christendom he had almost four hundred years to wait for this golden haired "freak of nature."
"Now we need you because we have assembled a team and we will kill her, but when her power is released we fear Layla will keep the power and attempt to possess a body."
"Vampires can do this?"
Malaya nodded. "Older, powerful one can as spirits. This body must be of their line."
The chill of death, not long past in his memory, swept over Durand's body. "I am the last of her line, am I not?"
She nodded. "We will kill her, and if you can beckon Layla' soul and accept it, Binders will strip her power for the king, and we will cleanse her soul from your body."
"Why should I do this? If you kill her without me here, there is none to possess."
"She is too old and powerful for us to kill her and absorb her power simultaneously. We need a medium to hold her, contain her as the body dies and the power is fought, then as you hold her longer we may strip her power for the king's use."
She smiled at him, showing fang. "The king will welcome you back into society, the rest of us may acknowledge you. You can come home, Durand. I am sheriff here, but I can be posted in France. We could return to your homeland."
Centuries flashed through his mind, and the weight of time pressed on him. He turned away, taking a steadying breath before asking the question in his heart. "What if I said no?"
She hissed at him like a snake, to Durand's mind the most unattractive thing a vampire could do. "You will be killed!"
He turned back with a hollow laugh. "Is that the only threat you vampires have? Join or die, do this or die a second time?"
Standing, Malaya's hip forced the heavy iron tub several inches aside, rancid blood splashing onto the stained stone floor. "You have our offer. We will need the strength of wolves for this, so you have three nights until the full moon. Show up and help us, do not and die. We have witches and wolves on our side, you cannot escape us, Durand."
With that she disappeared, having at long last during his absence mastered the art of teleportation. He was left alone in the room with the stench of death like a living companion. Not for the first time, he thought of it as a friend, and wished death herself would appear.
Like all the times before, nothing came.
He awoke to a warm evening in a small barn. Horses, hay, and unsuspecting humans, he knew from the scents around him, had been his only company.
He stretched, used his own small magic to cleanse his body and clothes, and then the hunger hit him. It was strong, far stronger than it should have been. The man he had taken blood from the night before had been strong, his blood good and filling, and with his age Durand should not have felt a compelling hunger for two nights after.
The hunger was there, keening and sharp, and then he smelled a human. A young woman, and the hunger took on arousal, swift and strong. He had not been with a woman in months and the one coming towards him smelled young and lush.
He hid in the hay as a door swung open. It was late summer and nightfall came at too late an hour for supper for the horses, so he suspected she was waiting for a lover.
She was tall for a woman, her body slim but sturdy, the curves obvious in the worn dress. She was not as beautiful as she was arresting, and her curves were easily visible beneath a worn dress. How this girl had survived the bloodlust of Bathory in the village, he could not understand.
In the language of her people she cooed to the horses, and told them a brief tale about escaping her father and his temper. She mentioned how the man had been missing for many hours the night before, his pants stained with a man's fluids, and was known to carouse for hours. She complained to one horse in particular how he condemned her for her own affairs, and her anger at the different standards for men and women.
Calling on every last reserve of his power, Durand stepped from the shadows. "Hello."
She gasped and turned, strangely protecting the horse. Seeing this slip of a girl protecting a large beast of pure muscle made him smile.
"Who are you?"
"My name is Durand, I come from France. I apologize, I needed shelter and sought this barn."
"I am Ilona, this is my father's farm."
"I thank you for the hospitality, willingly given or not. I have taken nothing, but I can offer you a few coins."
She dropped the horses muzzle, and with a cocked head stepped closer to where he stood in moonbeams. "You slept during the day?" He nodded and she stepped closer. "You are vampire."
He froze. No humans had ever said those words to him before without pitchforks and torches in hand and murder in their eyes. Her brown eyes were soft, kind, and filled with curiosity.
She stopped so close to him he could touch her. "What makes you say that?"
"I have heard whispers from the castle, and I see colors when I look at people. People shine green. The countess's friend was white, as are you. When I saw her color, I ran, I knew what would happen. But I fear no danger from you, vampire Durand."
His eyes widened. She was a Binder.
Ilona began to walk around him. "I wonder why I should fear this woman so much, but not you?"
An ache began deep inside, tightening his balls, and constricting his heart. It was dangerous for them both to be near one another. He was sworn to Turn her, and if she had any sense, she'd kill him. Finally he cleared his throat. "The woman kills for fun, I kill only in defense. I killed as a human enough, I wish for no more death."
She stopped in front of him, boldly looking him up and down like a seasoned whore. With the ghost of a smile on her lips she began to unlace her simple dress.
"What are you doing?"
"You offered me coins for your stay, I wish something else."
He grabbed her arms and stopped her, though a gape in the laces across her bosom showed a good expanse of breasts. "I will not Turn you, God knows there is enough of my kind already."
She laughed. "I have no wish to be like you, I am human fully and I enjoy it. I simply wish to lie with you."
Her words sent a surge of precious blood through his body, hardening him to a near painful state. His heart again pounded. No one who was not a fellow vampire had ever offered themselves to him, this was the most strange and precious gift he'd ever received.
He wanted her fiercely, but knew there was a very real danger of his strength. He could kill her if he wasn't careful. "Please," was all his mind could muster.
She unlaced her dress and dropped it. Her body was muscled with hard work from the farm, but still held the delicious, soft curves of female. In the moonlight she was beautiful to him, but his eyes jerked up to a jeweled comb in her hair.
He reached for it and she tilted her face into his hand, sighing. The jewels were real, precious, the comb was worth all her family's holdings times five. Opening his mouth to ask where she'd come upon it, she reached up and aggressively cupped his face and dragged his lips down to hers.
For a human she was strong, but in his arms she felt delicate, like a butterfly on his palm. The memory was from his human life and distant, but strong, making him smile.
Her lips were soft, her teeth cleaned by a rag properly, but like all humans the smell and taste of food was still there. He used magic to cleanse her breath and then Durand could enjoy the slide of her tongue along his.
He pressed her body to his, her skin deliciously naked. She smelled of faint sweat and the spices of baking, a combination he found pleasing, but beneath it was a strange scent. This must be the scent of a Binder, he thought, and then it wound into his brain and conscious thought slid from his mind.
With magic his clothes disappeared and the warmth of her human body against his cool flesh seeped in. She began to stroke his body with her small hands, innocent caresses along the lines of muscle that inflamed him beyond reason.
He had no time to prepare her, he only wanted to sink his cock into her and pump his way to bliss. Durand fell backwards into a pile of hay and she landed gracefully on top, her legs one either side of his, showing a talent and experience that pleased him greatly.
"Ilona," he whispered, befuddled, against her lips.
"Yes," she moaned out. He jerked her head to the side and his fangs and cock speared her simultaneously. Her cunt was hot and warm, the muscles quivered around him as she cried out. Her blood flowed in slowly, tasting a thousand times sweeter and more powerful than an ordinary human's.
His head began to swirl as her hips pumped reflexively, the orgasm from the bite already upon her. He had enough presence of mind to use one hand to smother her scream, and then the combination of blood and the milking of her muscles dragged him to the edge and threw him off.
For a wild moment he thought he was flying, his body exploding into a thousand pieces. He drank more blood than he should and felt the cold sweep through her body.