Dragonborns with Fangs Seven – Blood

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When Selene awoke, she was in a prison cell. There were other cells nearby, but no one was in them. In fact, the block she was in was totally deserted. She reached around to touch the back of her neck, where two evenly spaced—very sore—marks rested. “That bitch,” she muttered. All this time together, searching for clues about vampires, and that damn Redguard was one all along. For all Selene knew, she was the one who had made the sun disappear. The thought so infuriated Selene that it didn’t even occur to her to be afraid. She stood at the bars of her cell and screamed, “Blanche! Get the fuck down here!”

Her yell was met with silence for some time, but a few low voices finally began to float in from underneath a nearby doorway.

“My lady, I don’t think it’s a good idea right now.”

“What, it’s better to let her sit and fester? You may want to get torn limb from limb by an angry, betrayed werewolf, but I don’t.”

“You downplay our power.”

“And you downplay Stormblade.”

The door clanged open and shut, and Blanche stepped in. She was dressed quite differently, wearing red and black armor with a design reflecting spikes and edges; there was no doubt what creatures it was meant for. She also wore a black cloak that appeared to have been barely saved from a fire, judging by its singed edges and the number of holes it had, but an orange shimmer pulsating over its form called for a resistance to flame. Her hood and dragonscale pieces remained, but the hood was pushed back, and her hair was significantly wilder than it had been.

“I apologize for the cell. We don’t normally take guests that aren’t thralls.”

“Blanche, what in the void?” Selene snarled. “Did you do it? Are you responsible for the sun blinking out of the sky?”

“Yes. I know, I know, I deserve a punch in the nose.” She approached the cell slowly. “It was only once, and I had sworn I wouldn’t do it to begin with. We all knew it would bring too much attention to us, as you have proven. But I was wounded, tired, and the temptation was—” she twitched an eyebrow— “unimaginable, to you.”

“You think I don’t understand temptation?” Selene argued. “The desire to feed on human flesh in beast form is overwhelming at times. Why didn’t you just tell me? I wouldn’t have cared! You know I’m a werewolf, and you already know I have vampiric friends. I was much more concerned with making sure it didn’t happen again than apprehending or punishing whoever did it. Gods damn it, Blanche, we could have saved a lot of time and not spent all these days away from our families!”

“Oh, I didn’t know any of that.” Blanche curled her lip a little. “Who was to say what you might have done? I am married to your close friend; maybe you would decide that it would be better if we weren’t together. For his sake, of course, because my days outnumber his. I could even be a threat, a danger to him, keeping him only as a loyal, portable meal.”

“Does he know, Blanche? Does Farkas know you’re a vampire? Or that you made the sun disappear?”

Her eye twitched. “Of course he knows what I am; but he doesn’t need to know what I’ve done. No one does.” She narrowed her eyes. “And what would you tell Ulfric, Selene? I live in his capital city. He tolerates me as a Redguard, but a vampire? When dragons pray. I doubt he knows what you are, either.” She closed her fingers around the bars of the cell. “I’m sorry it had to come to this, but there were too many risks I didn’t want I take by telling you everything.”

“I get that. I’m still angry, and frankly it’s probably better to keep me in here until I’ve calmed down enough not to punch you in the nose, but I do understand. I know that if you knew me better, you’d never have had doubts; but you didn’t, so here we are.” She pulled back and paced the cell nervously. “No, Ulfric doesn’t know I’m a werewolf, and he likely never will. I’m not going to tell him you’re a vampire. He trusts me enough that if I tell him the problem is taken care of, he’ll take my word. At most, I might have to hedge a bit.” Blanche’s lifted eyebrow said she wasn’t convinced, but she spoke nothing. Selene was really starting to dislike that eyebrow. “As for Farkas, that’s between the two of you. He’s a big boy and can take care of himself, and if he knows and accepts it, that’s fine. I’m not going to butt in as long as you don’t pose a real danger to him and those kids, and I don’t believe you do. But Blanche, you have to promise not to do this again. I’d say I would make sure you didn’t do it again, but I don’t want to kill you, and I don’t have the power to stop you. I’ll just have to hope you have the honor to keep your word.” She stomped her foot impetuously. “And don’t bite me again without asking!”

“I can do that,” Blanche chuckled. “Hopefully all of that.” She pulled away from the bars for a moment to snarl at the thin, pointed face of a small elven vampire who had peeked in. He disappeared quickly.

Selene eyed Blanche pensively for a moment and then said, “Do you know there’s a cure? Take a filled black soul gem to Falion in Markarth, and he will cure you. That is, if you want it. I enjoy being a werewolf; you may like being a vampire. But I wanted to let you know there are options.”

“‘Cure’?” Her expression was unreadable. “Well, I’ll keep that in mind; thank you.”

“So are you going to let me out of here?”

Blanche lowered her voice and glanced over at the door. “We won’t be here long. The others don’t like your presence here, Selene, but they believe I’m going to make you into my thrall; I hope it doesn’t come to that. I’ll come let you out in . . . is ten minutes enough? Anyway, we’ll have to do some acting.”

“Sure, but how does a thrall act? The only ones I’ve ever seen were trying to kill me.”

“Oh. Erm . . .” Blanche blinked. “Something like a housecarl, but more blindly loyal and less personality. Just don’t say too much. Ah, anyway, can I get you anything? Hungry?”

Selene shook her head. “I wouldn’t mind having my gear back as soon as possible. Don’t worry, I won’t attack anybody unless they attack me first; I just feel naked without it.”

“Of course. It’s all safe; I’ll bring it to you when I let you out.” She turned and left the cell block.

Selene paced back and forth, her breath coming in shallow gasps. The longer she waited, the worse it would get. She would continue to trust Blanche like an idiot, but she still didn’t like being penned up, and her wolf spirit was fighting to get to the surface. When Blanche did come to let her out, Selene would have to be very cautious or things could get unbelievably bloody.

Although she was still angry with Blanche, she had to admit she was angrier with herself. How could she not have noticed it? Now that she knew what she was seeing, everything about Blanche screamed vampire. Her eyes, her fear of fire, little things she knew or detected that would have been difficult without enhanced senses. The game she and Sybille had played. Now that she thought back, she even remembered how quiet she was during the day and how much more alive she seemed at night. How could Selene have been so stupid? Did Blanche cast some sort of spell to cloud her mind and make her not notice? Maybe it was because she hadn’t been looking for the signs. Or maybe she just hadn’t wanted to see it. She had been so determined to like Blanche that she had accepted everything the Redguard had done. She had even said it was okay when she found out she was Dragonborn. Perhaps she had been staying at home and living a peaceful life too long. She’d become downright naïve.

It was a lot longer than ten minutes before Blanche returned, face stone-set as ever. She said nothing, but put a finger to her lips and gave the door a distrustful glance. After a moment, she leaned toward the bars and motioned for Selene to come closer. Her voice was barely a hiss as she whispered in Selene’s ear. “I can sense your blood boiling. The others will as well, so I will cast a Calm spell to cool it off. But whatever you do, do as you’re told, and when the spell wears off, pretend it hasn’t. Thralls are passive unless their masters are in danger.”

Selene stared her earnestly in the eye and whispered, “I’ve done my best to be your friend and be trustworthy, and you haven’t done the same. I’ll do what you ask, but I need to know that can trust you from now on. No more deception. Promise me. Swear it.”

Blanche wouldn’t meet her eyes for long, and she sent the door another glance. “My word is worth very little. But I am your chance of getting out of here, so you can either take it, or be stuck in here until you turn to dust.” She took a step back and her fingers lit with a soft, greenish glow, but she waited for Selene’s consent.

Selene hesitated just long enough to think of Brynjolf and Rowan’s faces before she nodded gravely. “So be it.”

Blanche prepared the spell and cast it over Selene. Her anger melted away, and her mind was calm, uncluttered. Even her muscles were relaxed. She gave Blanche a peaceful smile. “Wow, that’s better than skooma!”

The vampire opened her mouth and sniffed her to ensure that the spell had the desired effect, and when she decided it had, she pulled a key from her satchel and unlocked the door. “Your possessions are just outside. Come with me.” She turned and glided away, heading for the door. The second she opened it, Blanche found herself eyes-to-chin with an orange-eyed high elf, dressed in a gray-toned version of her armor.

His face was straight until she looked up at him, and then he broke into a smile that looked more like a smirk. “My lady.”

“Vingalmo.”

“I and the others are most interested in seeing this thrall of yours.” He tried to peer over her head at Selene; but Blanche put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him back, and he obediently stepped to the side, letting the fresh, almost overpowering scent of blood flow into the room.

By the Nine, Selene thought as she swooned.

“Yes, she will make a fine servant.” Blanche strode past him. “I am quite impressed that I was able to subdue a beast with blood as fiery as hers.” She motioned toward Selene’s gear, which had been stacked and arranged neatly on a bench next to a large ale keg. “Put on your armor, Selene, and arm yourself again.”

The elf turned his eyes to Selene.

Selene met them for only a brief second before turning away and silently stepping over to the bench, where she equipped her gear, trying not to look as uncomfortable as she felt. The scent of blood made her mouth water; the fact that it was human blood made her thankful for the Calm spell. She prayed to the Divines that there weren’t any living humans running around this place when it wore off. Her wolf spirit had retreated with the spell, but Selene could still sense her, deep within her soul, panting and growling, waiting to spring into action. When she had agreed to do what was necessary to get out alive, it hadn’t even occurred to her that anybody might need to be protected from her.

“I’m ready,” she told Blanche shakily.

Vingalmo chuckled. “I don’t think ‘subdue’ is the best word to use in this case, my lady.”

“Unless you have something useful to tell me, Vingalmo, I’d prefer that you stop pretending you aren’t here to pry and go make yourself useful elsewhere.”

“Actually, I do, but it can wait until a more convenient time.” The elf breezed out of the room, and Blanche stared darkly at his back until he was out of sight. After a moment, though, she murmured, “Hold your breath,” to Selene and followed after him.

Wondering how in Oblivion she was going to hold her breath long enough not to be overwhelmed by that delicious scent without losing consciousness, she followed Blanche out of the room.

Suddenly, holding her breath wasn’t a problem, because Selene couldn’t breathe. She didn’t shock easily, but the gruesome tableau before her certainly accomplished it. The two women had emerged into the grand hall of what must have been Castle Volkihar, with a high ceiling adorned with a candle-laden chandelier. A throne presided over several long dining tables arranged into a U-shape, and balconies overlooked the entire scene. Platters and goblets bearing the grisly remains of life—bones, chunks of flesh, the occasional skull—lined the tables. The goblets and jugs were stained red. Kegs dripped liquid of similar color onto the stone floor, and here and there, the occasional intact body could be seen . . . but they were alive, and occasionally gave off a weak groan when one of the vampires seated behind them leaned forward to sink their fangs into an arm or a shoulder. Other vampires milled about the court, some with goblets in their hands, chatting idly.

The problem wasn’t the blood and gore; the problem was that as horrible as the scene was, it was also . . . seductive. Her wolf spirit was pushing toward the surface again; and while part of her wanted to attack, kill every undead monster in the place and save the poor souls who were suffering at their hands, another part of her wanted to join in, shift to her beast form and wrestle the still-beating hearts from their bodies. Sweet Kynareth, help me get through this, she prayed, swallowing a massive lump in her throat.

Under the table nearest to Blanche and Selene, a lithe, black creature vaguely resembling an earless, tailless, hairless dog gnawed on a bloody bone. It paused to look up and pulled back its lips in a loud, cutting snarl directed mainly toward Selene. At the sound, almost all of the vampires in the room quieted and turned their matching sets of eyes toward the two.

“Silence, Garmr!” Blanche growled back. “This one is not for you.” She seemed to recognize the source of the hound’s concern, though, and looked back at Selene. “If you like,” she said softly, “you may have something from the kegs.”

Selene actually considered it briefly, but eating the heart of a necromancer or Forsworn committing atrocities, and drinking the blood of slaves and human cattle, were two different things. She shook her head. “Thanks, but no, when we leave, I’ll go find a deer or something.”

The other vampires exchanged a few doubtful looks amongst themselves, but most went back to what they had been doing previously. A few, however—including the doglike creature, whose red eyes never left her—kept a close eye on her. One of these was a gray-clad man with dark hair and a vaguely Nordic face, who pulled Blanche aside.

“You may be lord of the court,” he hissed in a false-whisper, “but this is ridiculous! A werewolf! What are you thinking?”

Blanche regarded him coolly. “She won’t hurt your thralls, Rargal.”

“How do you know that? You sound so confident.”

“I am. Give her a few minutes.”

“I’m fine,” Selene lied. “I won’t hurt anybody.” Not anybody who doesn’t try to hurt me, she added to herself. She kept mostly quiet, her eyes constantly on Blanche as she moved about as though she were enamored of her. It didn’t take long to realize that not only was Blanche a vampire, she was the head vampire. She was the lady of this manor. And she’d had the gall to look at Selene sideways for being Guildmaster! Maybe Selene would still punch her in the nose.

Blanche waved Rargal away and moved on through the room, pausing to take up her own bloody goblet before crossing over to a room on the opposite corner of the hall. Two elven vampires were there—a Dunmer, who concentrated over a dead but unbloodied alchemist laid out upon a large table, and a Bosmer, who acted much like a thrall despite his undead nature. It was with these that Blanche began to speak.

Someone bumped into Selene from behind, with an exclamation of, “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t see you there.” It was a human, alive and apparently well, quite bald and dressed in plain gray robes, and carrying a suspiciously Blades-like katana on his belt. He had been honest in his words, though, because a blindfold had been secured around his eyes. Despite this, now that he knew Selene was there, he fixed upon her as though he was looking her in the eye. “You’re new to the court, aren’t you?”

“I’m just vi—aye, I’m new here. I’m Selene Stormblade; I’m with Blanche. Why are you blindfolded?”

“I am blind,” he replied matter-of-factly. “The Elder Scrolls have taken their toll on me. Oh, I apologize, I haven’t introduced myself. I am Dexion Evicus, a moth priest. Retired, now, for obvious reasons.” He laughed.

Selene nodded knowingly. “I’d heard the Elder Scrolls could cause blindness. You may not believe it, but I read one once. It sent me back in time.”

“You have read an Elder Scroll?” he asked incredulously. “And it sent you back in time! How I wish I could tell of such an experience. “

“Aye, it was  . . . quite an adventure. You know, I grew up in Cyrodiil and heard talk of moth priests, but I’ve never heard of any in Skyrim. How did end up here and . . . here? You don’t seem like the other humans in this place.”

“I am a servant to Blanche, as you are. She does not permit her friends here to feed on me because I have served her well in the past, reading Elder Scrolls for her. It was my foolish haste in doing so that caused this.” He motioned to his blindfold. “But it is no loss to me.”

Blanche broke away from the vampires she was speaking with and headed back into the main hall. Vingalmo, who had been milling around at the opposite side of the room, noticed and made a beeline for her. Across from him, a handsome, red-haired Nord vampire with a thick but well-trimmed beard also made for her. They seemed to be racing to get to her first. Selene doubted they would cause any trouble Blanche couldn’t handle, but a good little thrall would do what she could to protect her mistress, so she excused herself from Dexion and headed toward Blanche as well.

Vingalmo won the race. “My lady, there is something we need to—”

He was suddenly elbowed in the ribs and shoved out of the way by the Nord. “—something you need to know,” he finished. “Concerning the settlement near Morthal.”

Blanche watched the episode with her eyebrows raised a little, a completely unamused look on her face. “Go on, Orthjolf.”

Vingalmo sulked in the background while Orthjolf happily accepted his nomination to be the bearer of bad news. He lowered his voice, more conscious of the other vampires than the thralls. “The outpost was . . .”

“Was what?”

“Destroyed.”

Although the blood was strong enough to mask most of the scents in the room, it wasn’t enough to cover the alarm that flashed through Blanche. “What?”

“The Dawnguard burned them out.” Orthjolf’s voice was quiet. “There were no survivors.”

“But . . . gods, they weren’t hurting anyone!” Blanche’s alarm turned angry. “I told them not to feed on the humans in Morthal. Did they disobey that order?”

“Not that I know of. And that isn’t all, my lady. . . .” He paused. “Serana was among them.”

His words were met with silence, and Blanche’s scent went wild.

“She left to go meet up with them not long after you last returned here. I tried to discourage her—”

I did, actually, while you were lying with your head in a blood barrel,” Vingalmo retorted.

Orthjolf ignored him. “But she insisted on going. Said she wanted to ‘see the sights.’”

Blanche’s eyes drifted away from his face. “Thank you, Orthjolf. That will be all.”

“Aye, my lady.”

Blanche’s scent was roiling in a flurry of emotions, not the least of which was fear. She stood motionless and covered her chin with her hand, lost in thought.

“Who’s Serana?” Selene asked, making Blanche jump, a fairly amusing sight coming from the stoic Redguard.

“I—” she shook her head, and it all smoothed away like butter. “Serana is—was, it would seem—a good friend of mine. I . . . I am sorry you won’t be meeting her.”

Orthjolf had meandered away by this time, and Vingalmo took the opening to get Blanche’s attention again. “My lady, if I may have a moment. Alone, if it please you.”

Blanche gave a quiet sigh. “Of course.” She turned and followed him to a far corner of the room, where they commenced speaking.

Selene was left among the other vampires, and by this time most had accepted that she wasn’t too bad a threat and were eyeing her curiously. One had opened her mouth to smell her blood. Selene eyed the vampire and sniffed back at her. She was starting to feel more comfortable in this nest of vampires, getting used to the scents and attitudes. The dog-like creature padded over to her, and she risked holding her hand out. It peered up at her for a moment with its glowing red eyes and then sniffed her hand. After a moment it pressed its face against it, and Selene scratched it behind the ears. It was a weird texture, leathery, bony, and ice cold, as was its tongue when it raised its head and licked her. Still, it was the friendliest non-moth priest in the place, and Selene was grateful for the company. She felt an odd kinship with the undead dog, as did her wolf spirit, who pushed forward again. The change in her scent made the dog look up and keen—not so much a howl as a whine, similar to how the Circle often communicated in beast form. Selene whined back at him.

In the background, Blanche suddenly slapped Vingalmo, without otherwise batting an eyelid at whatever he was saying. As Selene watched the exchange, she got the distinct impression that this Vingalmo character would just as soon kill Blanche and take over as do her bidding.

The undead dog trotted away for a moment and soon returned leading another of its kind. This one was a little smaller, but bulkier, and its teeth were several degrees more crooked, but it too warmed up to Selene after some hesitation, and both sat down at her feet complacently.

Blanche’s slap had slowed down Vingalmo’s speed of speech, but he continued, and Blanche’s reply was barely audible as she took on a lower, more cutting tone. “My husband will be willing. But my daughters are out of the question, and if you ever mention them in this context again, I will use you for my next archery target.” Judging by the way his shoulders hunched, he didn’t see it as an idle threat. She gave him a curt nod and returned to Selene, where her hard expression turned more open at the sight of the two dogs. “Oh, I see you’ve met our death hounds.” She bent to rub each one with a hand. “We used to have more, but a certain rogue made off with most of them.” She motioned to the first one. “This one is Garmr; the other is CuSith.”

“Aye, we’ve become good friends.” She nodded toward Vingalmo. “Everything all right?

“Yes.” Blanche rubbed CuSith between the eyes with her thumb and stood up again. “We should be going soon.”

Selene wanted to know more, but she figured the lady of the house explaining herself to a thrall was unheard of, so she left it at that as Blanche whisked away again, out of the hall.

Orthjolf and Vingalmo were tossing jibes at each other again, and near Selene, a short woman with a greatsword on her back rested her elbows on the table she had a place at and rubbed her temples. “I wish Orthjolf and Vingalmo would just get it over with and kill each other,” she muttered to the vampire standing next to her. “Ugh, I’m tired of listening to them.”

“If we’re lucky,” the other, also a young woman with rusty hair and a Nordic accent, chuckled, “Blanche will do it for us. Did you see her slap Vingalmo? I’ll bet that made both his cheeks burn.” This one stood and approached Selene with a look of vague recognition on her face. “Hmm, so you’re of the beast blood, eh? I suppose you were part of the Companions before the lord of the court brought you in.”

“I was,” Selene confirmed without elaborating.

“I was a Companion once,” she replied absently as she tilted her head back and emptied her goblet into her mouth. “They would never let me into their Circle. Too good for me, they were.” Her tone was unfocused, as if she were talking to a pet. “Well, they’ll never call me a whelp again.”

“Perhaps it wasn’t that they were too good for you; maybe you weren’t good enough for them. They’re very choosy.”

“Stop whining about your hurt feelings, Hestla,” the other vampire grumbled. “Honestly, you’re as bad as that thrall Rargal culled last week.”

Hestla scowled, but then turned away from her. “I’ve always dreamed of feasting on wolf blood. Especially theirs.” She sighed. “I don’t remember you, but I suppose you’ll do. Whet my appetite a little, no?” Suddenly she was very close to Selene, mouth open a little.

“That is disgusting.” The other vampire grimaced.

“Shut up, Fura.”

Selene took a step back, fighting for control, fighting to stay the good little thrall and not tear Hestla’s throat out. “I belong to Blanche, and Blanche only,” she told the vampire, the tremble in her voice all too real. “She was very specific about that point. If you have a problem with that, you should take it up with her.”

“Oh, that’s not fair,” Hestla groused. “She’s not usually that selfish.”

Fura laughed behind her. “Tough luck. And Blanche hardly ever feeds, so all that Companion blood, gone to waste . . .”

Selene couldn’t resist. “Oh, it’s not wasted, I assure you.” She smiled sweetly, praying to any Divine who would listen that Blanche would hurry up and get her out of there before she did something stupid. She hadn’t been this religious in a long time.

Hestla and Fura both lifted their eyebrows. Hestla started to say something else, but some Divine must have heard Selene’s call, because Blanche returned, dressed in her green mage robes again. The color was an odd contrast with the rest of the place. “I hope you two aren’t tormenting my thrall.”

Selene waved a dismissive hand. “Nah, we were just bantering. They actually made me feel very welcome. Thank you, ladies.” She knelt down to pet the dogs, who both rubbed against her hands happily.

“Torment? Me?” Hestla put on an innocent face. “I wouldn’t.”

“Yes she would,” Fura interjected. “You should have seen the look on her face when she thought about having some beast blood for dessert. Anyway, leaving again so soon? I wish you would spend longer days here.”

“I have duties elsewhere; you know that.”

“Yes, yes, yes, husband and daughters and mush. Why don’t you bring them here?”

“I will when I want to scare them to death,” Blanche quipped. “Feed well, both of you. Come along, Selene.” With these words, she glided away, and Fura took her own leave of, “Bleed Skyrim dry.” Hestla was in the middle of taking another gulp from her goblet and just waved distractedly.

Selene suppressed a small chuckle at Fura’s words and followed Blanche out of the castle. They took the dinghy across to the mainland, and Selene sighed with relief as the ocean air cleaned the thick scent of blood from her nose.

“Blanche, I need to hunt,” she said as soon as they were back on solid ground. “Can you wait for me somewhere nearby?”

“Of course,” Blanche replied. “Though I don’t know why you didn’t save yourself the trouble earlier.”

“It’s not just the taste for blood,” she explained. “It’s the hunt. You had the beast blood; you know what it’s like to chase your prey down and . . . I just . . . I really need to kill something, but I won’t feed on the innocent or the helpless.”

“Understood.” Blanche cast a wary glance back toward the castle. “But let’s not wait around too long.”

“Hmm. Come with me.” They hiked south a few miles until they were on the border of The Reach, far enough away from the castle for some comfort, and then Selene undressed and left her gear with Blanche. She ran into the forest and set her wolf spirit free, howling with bloodlust and hunger as her body shifted to beast form. Far in the distance, miles away, another werewolf howled back.

In moments she was on the trail of a deer. The scent of venison didn’t cause the lustful reaction like human blood did, but it was enough, and she tracked it down with ease. In a clearing at the edge of a pond was a magnificent, sixteen-point elk. She crept up behind it, but it caught her scent and took off. Selene sprang to action, loping toward the elk with all her might. She sensed his course change before he made it, and when he suddenly veered to the right, she was ready. She sprung and took him down. The deer was a fighter, and Selene got gored in the side with an antler for her trouble, but she barely noticed. All that was on her mind right now was blood and meat. She bared her teeth and tore into the deer’s throat. He kicked and screamed as the beast proceeded to rip him to shreds. He stopped fighting soon; after only a few more minutes, there was little left that resembled a deer. The wolf spirit gorged herself, doing to the elk what she had wanted to do to the humans in Castle Volkihar—killing, feeding.

Feeding. For just a few moments, that’s all there was: feeding. The blood, the meat, the sinew. The blood. So much of it. It filled her mouth, splashed in her face, covered her nose. Warm, rich blood. It was glorious.

Sometime later, spent and satisfied, she found her way back to the pond where she had originally spotted the deer and dipped into the water, letting it lift the blood and gore from her fur. She lay back and looked up at the night sky, the partial moons drifting peacefully among the stars, and started to retreat. Her side hurt; she would have to stitch it when she shifted back to human form. Selene got up and headed back toward Blanche, staying in beast form for warmth. She found the vampire only a couple of hours after she had left, shifted to human form, stitched her wound and swallowed a healing potion, quickly dressed, and loaded up her gear.

“I’m ready to go when you are,” she said.

“Enjoy yourself?” There was no sarcasm in her voice. “It’s a good night to hunt.”

“I did. Got to feed, vent my frustration; it was good for me. Thank you.”

“You’re injured.”

Selene shrugged. “Just an antler; it’s fine. Anything interesting happen while I was gone?”

Blanche shook her head. “Not particularly. But I suppose we should get moving.”

Selene nodded. “I want to go home.”

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