Feast or Famine? Ch. 03byathena_by_night©
Once again Marianna found herself alone upon waking. However, it was with the full knowledge of one who had been fully sated the night before. A tiny smile graced her lips as she stretched luxuriously and welcomed the day. Her body ached, but it was with a sense of well-being. Suddenly, she realized what had caused her to surface from the delicious dreams she had been experiencing. Pounding thuds at the front door.
Bam! Bam! Bam! And a shouted voice agitated and raised in anger. Slipping into the robe that Stephanos had thoughtfully left for her, she hurried to the window. Ivan! What was Dmitri's brother doing here? He slammed his fist once more to the door in frustration and paced in front of the portal.
"Ivan!" She shouted in reply to his distress. He turned his angry gaze up to her face. "What are you doing here? I thought no one would miss me or come for me."
"Marianna! Are you all right?" His voice husky, gruff and full of relief. "I have come to bring you back to where you belong. Pyotr saw that fiend drag you away and we have been tracking you these past two days. Come, Marianna, the day grows long and we must be away quickly." His urgency translated itself to her, but she knew that it could not be. Stephanos would strike him dead along with all the other villagers.
"You must stop, Ivan. I belong to Stephanos now." She was wringing her hands as she said this and hoped that the apprehension she felt was not communicating itself to Ivan. "I cannot go to you. I have submitted to him and I accept my fate."
"You cannot mean that Marianna! If you loved Dmitri you would not be saying this." He quickly crossed himself. "You shame yourself and the memory of my brother. Now, are you coming out or am I coming in?"
She started to panic. Ivan was stubborn and could be violent. He had tormented her gentle Dmitri growing up, scoffing at his dreams and mocking her as his choice. Ivan had long ago decided that he would have her and when she spurned his advances, he became enraged. Ivan had even tried to compromise her, thus causing the rift. Her Dmitri, knowing the truth had sided with her. This had led to her being outcast from the village. Oh, she hated Ivan fiercely. He was the source of so much of her unhappiness. Ivan had incited Dmitri to join the Tsar's army. Her eyes blazed with contempt. He would use her selfishly and turn her over to his friends. She was thanking God now that Stephanos had found her. What a strange turn of events.
Perspiration formed on her upper lip. She had to think and chose her words wisely. "Ivan, I have found a new home and wish to reside in peace. You may have all my possessions, just go and leave me be. My choice is made." She tried placating him, supplication threading her voice. Ivan was greedy; he might go for the idea. She hated being so pusillanimous, but her options were limited.
He grunted. "This is not over, Marianna. I will return and I will have you! You have only postponed the inevitable." His voice filled with sadistic glee. "And, I will make you pay for not bowing to me now." He turned abruptly on his heel, calling for Pyotr. He lumbered off in the direction of the horses. Oaf! She thought. He was tall, but with stooped shoulders and stringy, greasy hair. His breath offensive and his teeth blackened. His slovenly appearance did not diminish the potency in his body however. His chest and arms rippled with muscles and his thighs were powerfully built. His stride lengthening, he cast a last look at where she stood rooted. The opposite of Dmitri she sighed. Where Ivan was all brute strength, Dmitri had been poetry and beauty. Oh, how she missed him.
She breathed a sigh of relief as they left, but now, she was left with her memories of Dmitri. She wept silently, tears coursing down her cheeks as they flooded back. The laughter and joy we had shared together. The gentleness of his kisses, so sweet and with love. Pain filled her soul once again at her loss.
Stephanos stirred and growled in his sleep. He sensed that things were not right and it aggravated him greatly. He searched with his mind for the whereabouts of Marianna, pleased she was in her room. He frowned, seeing her tears and was frustrated because it was too soon to go to her. He attempted to connect with her mind to seek his answers, but found it closed to him. This would not do at all. He mused. As strong-willed as she is, she must learn this form of communication as well. Knowing there was nothing he could do at the moment, he decided to conserve his strength and get to the bottom of the matter when he surfaced.
Marianna felt a brush of something skittering at the edge of her mind. Momentarily distracted, she tried to find the source of her discomfort. Futility met her efforts. Heaving a sigh, she wiped the tears from her eyes and moved away from the window. The room was in a shambles from their antics the night before. These actually made her feel better, remembering being thoroughly loved last night. She decided it was time to try and explore her new home. Instinctively knowing she would find the door unlocked, she opened it into an ornate hallway.
Oh! She breathed. Magnificence surrounded her everywhere she looked. The moldings that separated walls from ceiling were carved in a light wood. Sparsely furnished with busts and statues and dramatic rugs, the hall extended the length of the house with doors interspersed periodically. Her natural curiosity arose and she started exploring with abandon. Peeking in, she found Stephanos' room at last. To say that it was masculine was an understatement. His magnificent bed had an elaborately carved head and baseboard. His armoire repeated the same dark woods in evidence. There were chains and cuffs attached at each post. She hesitantly stepped to them and brushed a finger across one. The cuff was made of the finest tooled Spanish leather, the inside lined with the softest wolf fur. She shivered at the implications of this. But she was no longer afraid of her dark lover.
Approaching the side of the bed, she lifted a knee to the coverlet and wended her way across the broad expanse to luxuriate in its satiny feel. Feeling decadent, she stretched and reveled against the coolness inherent there. Smiling in rapture, she closed her eyes, imagining his hands on her body, submitting to his will again. Despite her recent losses, she felt she belonged here and was loathe giving it up. Curling onto her side, she slipped into a light doze.
Upon waking several hours later, her unbound hair wrapped around her body, she began to explore it, seeking out those places that most pleased Stephanos. Her hand lingering at her breast, her nipple puckering for a minute, recalling the feel of his lips and fang there. Tiptoeing to her belly and sweeping a hand there, still traveling lower, lost in the enchantment of remembered caresses. Finally, her hand reached her nether curls, slightly dampened already with her exertions. Sliding a finger against the folds, dewiness slicking her finger with her growing excitement. Closing her eyes, she played here and there, opening herself to the experience, something she had never done before.
Stephanos awake at last, acute to the feelings that Marianna was exploring, was pleased to find her in his bedroom. His body thrummed at identifying with her so closely, having tasted of her, he would never lose this connection. Despite his ravening hunger, he decided to go play with her for awhile. He waited until she slept each night to go hunting. His mind craved her intelligence and her wit, when she showed it. His body craved hers, so keen to learn all she had to offer, and lastly, while he longed to transform her, he knew that he would not. At least not yet. He enjoyed her warmth and her humanity, neither of which he was prepared to lose.
Rising, he made his way swiftly to his bedchamber, eager to enjoy her young flesh once more. Opening the door, he stood transfixed for a time, watching her pleasure herself. His breathing increasing with each of her strokes. Marianna's gaze locked on his, and her boldness increased. Spreading her legs wider, inviting closer inspection, she arched sinuously into the bed, watching him. Ah, he thought, she is playing the vixen and temptress tonight. He slowly extended his tongue and licked his lips in anticipation.
She wasn't sure how to proceed, but Stephanos didn't seem to care. He moved slowly and gracefully to the edge of the bed and started to remove his clothing, piling it neatly on the chaise residing near the bed. His body in the soft glow of the candlelight, revealing itself to her dilated eyes. His pulse beating strongly at the base of his throat, his chest rising and falling with hardened nipples, his taut abdomen drawing her eyes for a second. She had never had the chance to fully appreciate his body, but she was taking the time now to savor what he exposed, continuing to play with herself as he did so. His powerful thighs and muscular calves only emboldened her further, especially seeing how large he was, fully extended, it rose to rest against his lower belly. Her Stephanos stood proudly and unashamedly in front of her, encouraging her to look her fill.
He did a slow half turn to bare his back to her. The muscles rippling all through his body at her expelled breath. Her fingers itched to stroke his back, to rake her nails there, to mold him beneath her hands. His buttocks firm and rounded and hard took her breath further away. Facing her again, he braced a knee on the bed and advanced on her quivering form. One of his fingers covered hers, the one moving against her sensitive lips, and he moved with her. She could see that he was enjoying the slickness that now transferred itself to his finger. With a leer, he brought the finger up to taste what was deposited there. No words were spoken, none needed.
Suddenly they heard a faint uproar that was growing closer. Frowning, his visage angering quickly at this interruption, Stephanos strode to the window and flung open the curtain, raising the sash. He turned to her, a terrible mask that frightened her a bit in its intensity.
"Villagers! Carrying torches and crosses! What do you know of this Marianna? Tell me quickly for there will be blood letting if they pursue this!" Venom spewed from his mouth as he spat.
"My Lord." She trembled, and she quickly told him of the morning's visit by Ivan and Pyotr.
"Bah! I will deal with this insurrection! You are to stay where you are, do you hear me?" He all but thundered at her. She meekly nodded her ascent. He dressed with a modicum of haste and was gone, locking the door from the outside. As this sunk in, she rushed to the window, her breath bated as she awaited the confrontation.
That fool, Ivan headed the group rapidly approaching. From her vantage point, she could see Stephanos step outside, two Russian wolfhounds at his side. Stephanos imperious drew himself up in preparation for the coming confrontation. A few members of the attacking party showed hesitancy in their steps, but Ivan advanced a determined look on his countenance.
"To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?" Understated elegance in his voice. Marianna had not expected that. He idly awaited the group, seeming indifferent now as opposed to a few minutes earlier in the bedroom. One hand resting on each of the wolfhounds' heads. "You realize the treaty has been enforced for almost a century now. Why break it?" His raised eyebrows added depth to the meaning of his words, as pleasantly as he was speaking at the moment. Marianna could see the barely controlled rage trembling beneath his demeanor. His patience was hard fought to be maintained.
"Bring us the girl, you! Our agreement resided over you not interfering with village ways. Your abomination has brought us here. I will not leave without the girl." Ivan spat at the ground.
"Such insolence from a young pup. Have care in your words and deeds. Marianna belongs to me now. I care naught for your attentions. The contract also had a codicil stating that if one such as she caught my eye, I would be entitled to her. To ensure the continued prosperity of your village, I would claim one as my own every hundred years. It was time. Your village elders who signed the compact had more respect! Bah! Go! Before you have cause for regret!"
Marianna caught her breath, watching the scene unfold before her. Was she nothing more than a bone to be bartered over? Her initial concerns for all parties faded as she contemplated this idea. She found that she did not like the idea in the least. Fool! She berated herself. I will not be treated as such! She looked around for a means to escape the confines of the room, determination evident in her every step. She dressed and pinned her hair haphazardly, looking over one of them as a possibility of unlocking the door.
Stephanos was mildly amused by the thoughts coursing through her mind. He would deal with them later. The immediate problem was staring mutinously at him and despite the low-throated growls of Zoya and Kirill, the small party stood before him defiantly. Pitchforks, stakes, crosses and torches at the ready. Stephanos' amusement expanded tenfold. Bah! He thought, they have listened to too many old legends that had no value. He took at step forward and the force of his personality caused them to take a collective step backwards, except for Ivan. Sheer will had him standing his ground. Foolish man was all Stephanos thought.
"You don't scare me! I want what is mine! What I have promised myself! Dmitri was weak; he didn't know how to handle such a fiery one as Marianna! And I will have her!" Ivan stamped the ground with a booted foot and tried to shove the lighted torch into Stephanos' face. The wolfhounds leapt into the air and knocked Ivan off his feet, pinning him to the ground. Their snarling teeth barely grazing the flesh of his face. Even on his back, Ivan looked defiantly at Stephanos.
"You try my patience! Be gone with you the lot of you! Now! Before I unleash the hounds of Hell! Before I take your women and children and turn them into my servants! Before I curse your fields that they lie fallow and you starve! I am omnipotent and I will utterly destroy anyone who opposes my will!" Stephanos' violet eyes seemed to glow with a red cast and he was paler than before. He bared his fangs and gave them an unholy grin. Punctuating his words without seeming to exert effort, he caused Ivan to rise from the ground and levitate there disbelievingly.
The simple villagers dropped their implements and ran as fast as their legs would carry them, never to return to the mansion. Ivan trembled violently and sought surcease from the pain that was traveling through his body, as if fire ants had been unleashed and were tormenting his flesh. He quivered and quavered in a pain-laced voice beseeching the creature before him, "I'll leave! I'll leave! Let me go, I will bother you no more!"
"You have incurred my wrath peasant! You no longer have the freedom of choice. I find no compassion for you or your plight! Your intentions towards Marianna will not go unpunished. As such, you are doomed to walk the Earth as of this moment as an undead. With no powers. You will be vulnerable to whatever befalls you. You will fend for yourself and no one; I repeat no one will be able to save you!" With that, Stephanos' bit his neck, draining him to the point of death, leaving him hanging in the balance between life and death. He allowed Ivan to crumple to the ground and watched as Zoya and Kirill dragged him with their teeth out of his sight.
The mark and smell of his displeasure permeating the air around Ivan, he knew that his fellow vampires would leave such a one as he to his condemnation. Not one would offer to save his worthless hide. A satisfied grin teasing his lips, Stephanos turned to deal with Marianna and her burning rage.
Kolya, Stephanos' much beloved servant heard Marianna's cries of frustration. He hastened to the door, listening to her ranting and raving as she tried to work the pin in the lock. He hesitated, unsure of the cause of her anger.
"Mistress Marianna? I am Kolya, Stephanos' servant. Can I be of assistance in some way?"
"Let me out!" She banged against the door in a burst of renewed anger.
"I do not understand what has transpired here and I will not incur Master Stephanos' rage." He stated simply. "I am sure that when Master Stephanos has dealt with the insurrection at his doorstep, he will return to you."
"You let me out now, Kolya! I am not some piece of meat to be fought over by dogs! Your master has much to answer for!" Marianna continued to beat at the door.
"Ah... here comes the Master himself!" Kolya was relieved, despite seeing the banked embers of recent anger still present on Stephanos' face. He bowed silently and moved off in the direction of the kitchen to prepare a light repast for them. Stephanos acknowledged Kolya, placing a hand on his shoulder in camaraderie and winked at him. Kolya chuckled silently, knowing that Marianna was in for a tongue lashing, or was it to be the other way around?
Stephanos stepped into the room and immediately raised a hand to ward off the various objects that Marianna was flinging his way. His body twitched in amusement at her rage. How he loved to see her like this. Almost like a Valkyrie dressed for battle. Her hair swirling around her uninhibited, her stance planted as she carelessly winged objects his way, her chest heaving, the orbs peeking through the top of her robe, her skin flushed and her breathing labored. Stephanos took it all in at a glance. One minute he was with his back against the door, the next he had Marianna pinned against his chest.
"Argh! How do you do that? You beast! You demonical creature! You lied to me! What is this covenant that you spoke of? I want to leave immediately! You have know right to keep me here!" She heaved with passion and renewed vigor, trying to twist out of his arms. Her earlier feelings of tenderness for him forgotten in her rage.
Stephanos actually raised his eyes heavenward for a moment, praying for patience. He had not forgotten how to do it, having been a devout man prior to his transformation. And try his patience she was at the moment. He shook her gently, capturing her eyes with his. "You must desist Marianna at once! I will tell you everything, but it stops now. Now, calm yourself and hear what I have to say."
Marianna gazed at him with distrust, her heaving bosom still pressed against Stephanos. It caused a twitch below that he ignored for the time being. He clasped her hand and led her to the door, much to her surprise. They traversed the hallway to the grand staircase that Marianna had not had a chance to explore earlier and were soon entering the dining room.
Stephanos assisted Marianna into a chair and quickly moved to his own. Kolya silently served them a cold repast with wine and withdrew to the back wall to await further instructions.
Marianna looked at Kolya sharply for the first time, some flicker of remembrance crossing her face. He looked vaguely familiar and yet she could not place him. Kolya for his part shifted uneasily at the directness of her emerald gaze. He wondered if Stephanos was prepared to impart all. He wasn't sure if he would welcome the change she may experience if she knew who he truly was. A tall man, but slightly shorter than Stephanos, Kolya had light blue eyes with navy colored irises, long lashes not usually found on a man, high prominent cheekbones, a slightly crooked nose from being broken as a youth and not set properly and full lips with laugh lines edging the corners of his mouth. He had long kinky blonde hair that brushed the back of his neck as it traversed to the small of his back. His forearms were powerfully built from what she could discern in viewing them under his rolled up sleeves and the open throated white shirt flowed gracefully to his simple peasant breeches. His body denoted his hearty peasant stock but was well proportioned.