“Tell me about Raven.” Scorch looked sideways at B.D. as they walked back to the hotel. She of course didn’t so much want to know about Raven, as she wondered what the girl’s reactions were. The request caught B.D. off-guard, and she stuttered a bit when she did speak, her face tinged with a blush.
“He... wow...” She took a deep breath. “He’s intense.” Scorch nodded her understanding, more than familiar with what the other girl meant.
“And us, mon ami? How does the news of our… existence, sit with you?” B.D. scowled a bit, finally being able to fully process the events of the night.
“One the one hand,” she began, “I’m surprised and a little skeptical. Every science teacher I’ve ever had, not to mention my dad, wouldn’t believe this at all, and look down on me for even talking about the possibility. But on the other, part of me wants so badly to believe what Raven tells me, and that there are real Vampires in the world, I just can’t shake it.” Her companion chuckled.
“We are real, B.D., you can believe it. Most of us had to come to that as well, get over our doubts and out fears and… give in…“ Scorch sounded almost wistful as she trailed off. B.D.’s flush darkened as her memory flooded with Raven and satin sheets. Scorch looked at the dark-haired girl from the corner of her eye. “Oui?”
“Oh um, just--” B.D. couldn’t help the giggle that wrested its way from her lungs. “I was just remembering how um, Raven seemed to want to--” Her giddy nerves flustered her into silence before she could finish the thought. Scorch’s raspy yet gentle laugh floated on the night air.
“Of course he wanted to, Belladonna, but it’s not time yet. That will come later, when you are Gifted.” B.D. cleared her throat and straightened her clothes before she spoke.
“Yeah, about that--”
“Not now, Bella,” Scorch interrupted, her voice stern but not menacing. “That too will come in time. Ah, we have arrived, no?” B.D. followed her gaze, and even though she couldn’t read the French, she recognized the sign of the hotel. She sighed.
“Yeah. Better get upstairs.”
“Oui. A bientôt, B.D., see you soon.” Scorch smiled and turned to leave. B.D. watched her, mesmerized by her movements once again. Blinking and shaking herself out of it, she gripped the door handle and stepped inside. Across the lobby, elevator up, and apparently no one noticed the young girl, or cared for the late hour of her return.
Sliding her keycard into the lock, B.D. hoped the gentle click wasn’t enough to wake her father. She eased to door open, greeted by darkness and silence. She slipped through the doorway, slipped her boots off, and slipped into the near bed, pulling the covers up tight. Her long-sleeved t-shirt and baggy jeans hadn’t been enough protection against the chill night air, and she shivered for several moments before relaxing. As she drifted off, Raven’s voice still sang in her head.
B.D. was sluggish as she arose to the sound of her father’s voice, and a bit perturbed with herself when she realized he was on the phone, not speaking to her. Coulda slept longer, ungh. She rolled over to look at the clock, which read 3:38 pm. As she realized that nightfall couldn’t be too far off, Raven’s song resumed its playback in her memory. She pulled herself out of bed and stumbled her way into the shower. After a good twenty minutes, she climbed out and set about selecting more appropriate attire for the French Autumn climate, heavier fabrics and more layers. Jacob had ordered room service, the arrival of which she’d apparently slept through. Tuna salad sandwiches were the meal of choice for the afternoon, with a side of neglect, courtesy of her father. As soon as one phone call ended, another began, all technical jargon that bored the girl so much she considered that warm, tantalizing bed again.
Yep. Knew it. Doesn’t give a shit unless it affects work, B.D. thought in utter resentment. Wasn’t bad enough I had to lose Mom before I even knew her, was it? As she ate her breakfast she noticed her father’s wallet on the table next to his laptop. After swallowing her last bite, she walked over and swiped up the bundle of cheap leather, pulling some of the strange looking French money free from its folds. Jacob saw, nodding his permission through the phone call. B.D. was happy she didn’t have to argue or explain herself; she’d felt underdressed with Raven and his entourage the night before, and wanted to find herself something pretty to wear for the next time. Plus, that morning in the bathroom she’d noticed that telltale smear of pink, the one that signaled the onset of her menses, and she needed the usual supplies.
The streets surrounding the hotel were bustling, the expensive boutiques and sidewalk cafes nearly packed with rich tourists. B.D. knew she didn’t have enough money for those places, and the shopkeepers gave her snooty looks if she lingered too long at their windows anyway. After a few blocks she got tired of being stared at, and turned down a side street finding a sole street vendor. The old woman’s wood cart boasted a few handmade garments and pieces of jewelry. An ankle-length black wool skirt embroidered with blood-red roses caught B.D.’s eye, along with a simple button-up black polyester blouse. She tried to ask the grandmotherly seamstress how much the items cost, but the language gap proved very wide indeed. Just as she was about to give up the struggle, a familiar rasp came to her aid.
“C'est combien, Grand-mère?” Scorch was dressed a bit warmer herself, the skirt and nylons from yesterday replaced with black jeans, and a full length trench coat hung from her shoulders and belted at her waist. Her curls were pulled back into a loose ponytail and she wore dark sunglasses in front of those perplexing red eyes. She winked at B.D. over the rims as she haggled for a better price.
B.D. had no concept of the exchange rate, and so had to trust Scorch’s word that they’d gotten a good deal.
“You have to be careful of the old ones,” Scorch warned, handing over the re-used plastic grocery bag that held B.D.’s new outfit. “They are resentful of tourists and will try to cheat you any chance they get. Once she realized I was French though, she quickly gave up.” B.D. returned Scorch’s smile.
“Thanks for the help. There’s no way I coulda gotten these by myself.” The two girls soon found themselves back on the main drag. Scorch wrinkled her more sensitive nose at the smells of the city.
“It is much less offensive at night,” she explained as she spit to rid herself of the taste.
“Hey yeah,” B.D. said, accusation edging into her voice. “If you’re a Vampire, how are you not, ya know, bursting into flames right now?” Scorch let out a full laugh.
“A convenient lie, mon ami, nothing more. If humans believe we are only a threat after dark, we can more easily, je ne se quoi, tend to our affairs… Though it is true we prefer the night, masking those affairs is a less complicated thing then.” B.D. shrugged.
“I guess I don’t understand Vampires as well as I thought, even though I’ve read all those books--”
“Storybooks? Ah, there lies your mistake. Nothing but stories those are. Well, except drinking blood, of course that much is fact. But precious little otherwise is written about our true nature, and yes, we take much comfort in that.” As the pair passed a bistro, a small dog tethered to one of the chairs made no secret he had caught Scorch’s scent. Instead of growling and raising his hackles as B.D. expected, he sat and lowered his head, as though his master had given him the command. Scorch flashed a fanged grin over her shoulder at the animal. B.D. shook her head.
“So much I don’t know.”
“Oui, at the moment. But that will change, Belladonna, in due time.” Scorch mimicked the dog’s scenting of the air just then, following the trail back to B.D.. She scanned the upcoming intersection, spotting a pharmacy. B.D. had already begun a beeline towards the building, muttering an uncomfortable explanation. A smirk grew on Scorch’s face.
"Bien, mon ami. I shall meet you at nightfall, right here?" After nodding her agreement and watching Scorch’s rather hasty retreat, B.D. entered the store. As she searched the aisles she furrowed her brow, wondering if she’d been somehow off-putting. She thought Vampires were sterile, so maybe her own fertility was a sore spot. Then she considered that was probably a popular falsehood as well, and became even more confused. She sighed in resignation as she brought the package of sanitary napkins to the front of the store.
“Ah, I see you also found time to change, B.D..” Scorch now wore a form-fitting knee-length black dress and heeled black ankle boots under her trench coat. She surveyed B.D.’s appearance with a smile. "Oui, tre apropos, you look beautiful.” B.D. smiled and spun around so that her skirt flared.
“Thank you!” she said, taking a deep bow.
“Shall we then?” Scorch offered her arm, and B.D. accepted, linking their elbows.
Raven’s assembly was lucky enough not to have been discovered in the mansion, so B.D. was familiar with the place. However, when she entered the great hall for the second time, it was different. The candelabras were arranged in a ring, appearing to serve no other function than to illuminate the room but be otherwise out of the way. Directly in front of her, at one end of the candle ring, was a display of large black feathers, fanned out like a peacock’s tail. Towards the stairs sat a large black cauldron, with a smaller brass vessel beside it. In the opposite “corner,” so that the three locations formed a triangle, was a collection of stones, although B.D. couldn’t tell how they were arranged. The rest of the group from the night before were all standing within the confines of the candle ring, forming a ring themselves, but parting slightly as B.D. and Scorch entered the hall. Raven stood facing the door, a pleased and peaceful look on his wise yet somehow cherubic face.
“Tre bien, come in, both of you!” He extended his arms in welcome as the two young women approached. Scorpian stood to his right, and after tightly embracing B.D., he gestured for her to stand on his left. The rest seemed to stand in their pairs, Titan and Taurus next on B.D.’s left, then Talon and Hawk in front of the feather display, and Sidhe and Fae to Scorpian’s right, and lastly Kitty and Scratch behind them. Phoenix was inside this outer ring, standing opposite Raven, and Scorch took her apparent place on his right. In the middle of all the bodies was a low table, draped in a black cloth. A double-edged knife and a silver chalice had been placed on the table, as well as a few strips of red cloth and more black feathers scattered about. A single black candle illumined the table, the short pillar type.
After a few moments of the group breathing deeply together, Scorpian stepped back from Raven, and moved clockwise around the room till she reached Talon and Hawk. They nodded in what seemed like reverence, and stepped apart. Scorpian walked between them, now standing before the feather display. As she took another deep breath, those that weren’t already turned to face her. With her hands relaxed at her sides, she began to speak in a voice that matched her demeanor, dark and mysterious.
“I am at the center of all that is.” With that, everyone dropped to one knee and pressed their palms to the floor, exhaling as though they’d all been holding their breath. B.D. followed suit, not wanting to be left out. In unison, the group’s voices rose in strong conviction.
“The fertile land below me.” The room then sounded like a wind tunnel as everyone stood and inhaled together. They all bent their elbows and turned their palms upward, forming cups at their hips. They then exhaled as they brought their arms in front of them, as if in offering. B.D. did her best to keep up.
“The vast sea surrounding me,” they spoke again together. Another deep breath in, they moved their hands straight out at their sides, palms forward, fingers spread. Breathing out, they reached up towards the impossibly high ceiling. B.D. found herself a little behind, but managing alright.
“The endless sky above me.” Breathing in, all hands were brought to rest over their hearts.
“I am the center,” all voices affirmed. A final breath out, and all lowered hands back to their sides. B.D. wondered if she’d done well enough. This seemed important, and she hoped there had been no disrespect on her part. She also marveled at how natural all these theatrics seemed to her, as though everyone did this as a matter of course. She then noticed that Scorpian had raised her arms, and was swaying slightly. Her voice flowed thick like honey and smooth as silk.
“Great Manannan, Lord of Sea and Winds, grant that the Gate be open, that our world may glimpse into Your Realm, that Your Power and Grace be upon us.” Everyone else bowed their heads, and began intoning a low resounding note. Slowly they began to bring their arms upward, the note climbing in pitch and volume as they did. Louder, higher, both arms and voices seemed to be building to frenzy, gaining strength, each building upon the energy of the others. The din became so great, it rivaled any concert B.D. had yet attended, and climaxed with a final, unearthly shriek. Silence held for but an instant, when all hands clapped, the sound nearly deafening. Counteracting the sudden thunderous noise, a collective sigh escaped the lungs of those around her as they dropped their arms and bowed their heads again.
The ascending call had obviously stirred something, and as Scorpian walked to the right, heading back to Raven’s side, B.D. tried to identify the new sensations. She thought to herself that even the air felt different, as though it were now electric bolts whizzing about her. The room seemed fuller somehow, as if more people had entered the space. She felt as though reality were now held in a delicate balance, and that just the slightest thing, one tiny choice, could tip the scale wholly to either the familiar or the unknown. Stranger yet though, was that nothing felt wrong, there wasn’t anything that had transpired so far that made her feel uneasy.
Raven smiled at Scorpian as she again took her position, then raised his arms to the ceiling for a third time. His face did the same, his dark eyes drifting closed, the curls of his hair seeming to dance down his bare back. Breathing deeply, he began to speak, his voice once again affecting B.D. in the most intimate of ways.
“Great One, Warrior Woman, Mother to us all, we call to You this night, as we have many nights past. We ask for Your Divine presence, so that we may honor You, as You have asked of us. Bless us, Phantom Queen, show us the way to Your wisdom.” As the words left his lips, another great clap filled the room. Once again, B.D. felt an additional presence, but this was like Scorpian intensified ten-fold.
Lowering his head and arms, Raven turned his eyes to B.D., somehow simultaneously speaking only to her, and to all other participants, corporeal or otherwise.
“Tonight is a night we have hoped for, longed for, for years yet uncounted. Before the start of time we were made, children of the Morrigan.” The name was familiar to B.D.; she’d taken a mythology course in school, and knew this was a Celtic Goddess of battle and the Other realms. She hadn’t realized though that there was anyone living today that still worshipped Her. She blushed a little when she realized Raven had paused, as though observing her thought processes. He smiled before continuing.
“Then as invaders came, stealing not only land and possessions, but Gods and rituals, our Mother was lost to us, denied in favor of a new King.” The Inquisition, B.D. thought darkly, remembering a history class. “Since that time, our only desire is to reunite with Her, commune with Her as we did then. In shades past, She was more than the force we feel here tonight. She existed, as each of us do, but has since been cast into the Ethers, only making brief appearances to direct our search.” His gaze left B.D. for the first time, turning back to Scorpian for a moment. A flash went into her dark eyes for but an instant, and in that split second she seemed not herself. With a solemn nod, Raven turned back to B.D. and went on.
“She told us of One that was yet to be born, that we were to watch for this One, perform tests to be sure of her identity--” The song from their first meeting seemed to float on the air. B.D.’s turquoise eyes widened as Raven continued to speak. “--and when this One was discovered, She told us, we were to make the One as we are.”
B.D. couldn’t help the gasp emanating from her mouth just then. Despite the fact that this occurrence had already been foretold to her, her reflexes brought her right hand to her chest in surprise. Raven smiled again as he took that hand into his, a comforting gesture. B.D. all but drowned in his perfect, weathered eyes – and to her benefit, else she would have noticed Scorch retrieving the chalice and dagger from the table, passing the latter item into Raven’s free hand, the former to Scorpian.
Steel flashed in the darkness of B.D.’s peripheral vision just before pain seared her palm. With a shriek she looked down to see a thin line of blood pulling itself to the surface. Everyone gathered there pressed closer, all eyes transfixed on the wound, the occasional fang glinting in the candles’ glow. B.D. turned back to Raven, panic rising in her throat, threatening to gag her. But as always, his eyes and smile put her mind at ease. Her body trembled, fighting with itself whether to recoil or relax. Scorpian suddenly appeared at Raven’s side, the chalice held out in front of her.
“Belladonna,” Raven said in a hushed tone, “Do you see yourself in us? Will you accept our Gift, drink of Her mouth and become as we are? Consider what we do – will you choose to reveal that which is hidden?” B.D.’s turquoise eyes darted between his face, the blood from her hand, the cup in Scorpian’s. Her mind jumped then to her father, but soon dismissed him, convinced he’d be happy she’d found acceptance. Then she somehow remembered her mother’s voice singing a lullaby in the same language as Raven’s song, and felt a flutter in her very soul, very much like a bird stirring at the dawn. Though she couldn’t explain it, she knew this was not only what she wanted, but something she needed.
“Yes,” she replied, her voice matching Raven’s. His eyes smiled this time as Scorpian held the chalice beneath B.D.’s bloodied hand. Raven turned it palm down, and with the softest touch coaxed the fluids out till the cup was full as possible. What seemingly little rationality she’d inherited from her father wondered how the blood loss didn’t render her unconscious, or at least unsteady on her feet.
She told that part of her brain to shut up as Raven used the dagger to prick his own finger and squeeze a few drops of his blood into her injured palm. He selected one of the red strips from the table and bandaged her hand, whispering that it would soon heal. He turned away from her then, taking the chalice from Scorpian’s offering hands. From behind them, Scratch removed the small brass cauldron from its place beside the cast iron one, and Scorpian now held that item toward Raven. He lifted the chalice over his head, his gaze following.
“From the life, back to the Life, the ebb and flow of existence. We now give our thanks to those who came before us, our fellow servants of the Other realms, and to the Mother.”
“Thanks be to all,” came the response from the rest of the group. Lowering the chalice, Raven poured a small stream of B.D.’s blood into the brass cauldron. When he finished, Scorpian returned it to Scratch, who in turn set it back in its place. The transaction completed, Raven brought the cup to his lips, breathed in the liquid’s rich scent, and took a drink.
The power in the young girl’s blood surged through him like an electric current, its taste a musky sweetness he had no comparison for. His lids became heavy, and for a moment he felt warm from the inside, a sensation lost to him countless years before. He was sure then there had been no mistake, Belladonna was the One.
As the chalice made its way clockwise around the room and each drank of its contents, the reaction was the same; brighter eyes, rosier skin, higher energy. B.D. watched the rejuvenating fire of her blood spread through them, and felt both giddy and aroused. The cup came to the end of its journey in her hands and she turned to Raven, only then noticing how strained his breath had become. A quizzical look passed over her face as he lowered his mouth to her ear, taking the cup in one hand.
“I must have you. Now.” As the growl shook B.D. to her very core, Raven drew away and threw his head back to drain the cup empty. Dropping it back into place on the table, he removed the bandage from B.D.’s hand, which had already healed, leaving not even a scar. He then motioned toward the stairs. The others began a chant in that same old language as the pair left them behind, Phoenix taking Raven's place beside Scorpian.
The ritual singing continued as Raven and B.D. ascended the grand stairs at the back of the hall. The haunting, reverent, yet joyful strains echoed off the walls and surrounded them like a cocoon, stirring their arousal even higher. The last time he had made this climb, Raven had carried the unconscious B.D. in his arms, but now he lead her, holding her hand aloft as though she were a queen. Rounding the railings to their left, he gently pushed open the first solid oak door.
B.D. remembered the room - the dark wood bed and red satin sheets illuminated by golden flickering light. Immediately she was comforted, as the moments she and her current companion had already spent there were still fresh in the atmosphere. Raven continued the processional until they reached the bed, and he bade B.D. sit. He sunk down next to her not unlike his namesake alighting a branch, her hand still folded in his. Lifting the other he gingerly stroked her cheek, which flushed, her arousal growing at his touch. Seeing the lust in her eyes, he cradled her head and laid her back onto the luxurious dressings.
Resting his weight on one elbow, he continued his exploration of her skin, his fingers next brushing over her lips. They parted on instinct and her tongue darted out, gracing his digits with just a hint of moisture. His smirk spread to cover more of his face and he continued on, leaving icy sensations in the wake of the contact. Her flesh burned in comparison to his, the quickened beat of her heart echoing against his senses. His touch traveled down her neck to her shirt collar, and he began to open the garment, one button at a time.
Despite the warmth of her flushed skin, B.D. shivered as Raven exposed her breasts and stomach, the sight of which caused a gasp to shudder in his chest. She was almost as pale as he, though the rosy hue of blood was less present under the Vampire’s flesh. His hand continued its journey, reaching the waistband of her skirt and slipping behind it. Her lashes fluttered and her breath came short in reaction, but almost as quickly her eyes bugged and she grabbed his wrist, halting its decent. She whimpered and her cheeks attained a deeper red with her apparent shame.
“What troubles you, Cher?” Raven asked, the concern obvious in his still comforting voice. The girl below him shut her eyes and a nervous smile curved up her mouth. She turned her face into his arm, trying to hide it. She muttered something he didn’t hear, and so he leaned in closer. A single tear wrested its way free from her closed lids.
“I umm… have my period,” she admitted, her words below even a whisper. Raven smiled again, matching her volume when he spoke.
“I know. It is why tonight was chosen for these acts.” B.D. lifted her head to face him again, her embarrassment making a noticeable shift to curiosity. “For you to Change, Cher, your blood must be exchanged for ours. Yes, some of it was drained downstairs with the others, but you still drain it naturally, on your own. Mine must make contact with yours, and then the Gift will take hold of you.” The muscles she didn’t remember tensing went slack in relief as Raven’s smile broadened. “And besides, you think a Vampire would be bothered by such a thing?” They both relaxed into laughter then, B.D. so much that she didn’t realize his hand had resumed its path until she felt his gentle fingertips spread that intimate split of skin between her thighs.
Her back arched the slightest angle off the bed as she gasped, her eyes snapping shut then open again in rapid succession. A low moan sounded next to her as Raven expressed his appreciation for her reaction. His fingers pressed onwards, finding the sticky wetness her womb released. He let his head collapse to her bare chest, his tongue flicking against her already erect nipple. She sucked in her breath again and squirmed, though not in an attempt to escape his touch. Mindful of their movements she began kicking her legs, maneuvering her skirt and panties down to her ankles and onto the floor, her inhibitions melting under the heat of her arousal.
Raven brought his unoccupied hand to the clasp of his leather pants, opening them and utilizing much the same removal technique. After a brief grasp of his rapidly growing erection, he pulled away from B.D.’s breast enough to look at her, the flames of his desire leaping in the darkness both within and without. He lifted his hand away from her thighs and, bringing it to his mouth, let his tongue caress each finger. The consumption of her menstrual blood gave B.D.’s yearnings an unexpected jumpstart and she felt herself clench. Raven shifted to crouch on all fours like a stalking predator, and B.D. crawled backwards to the headboard in a mock attempt at escape. As the Vampire climbed her body he left kisses of melting ice on her skin, pausing at her pelvis as if catching her scent. B.D. sank into the pillows as Raven hovered above, the feel of his body on hers that of a cool cloth on fevered flesh.
Their lips met for only the second time, and Raven let out a soft moan. As he pushed up to support his weight on his hands, B.D. smiled at him. Still a bit timid but with more confidence, she raised her hips, pressing harder against him. The pleasure was evident in Raven’s panting voice as he spoke.
“Amour, I do not wish for this to hurt you – guide me.” He returned the pressure of her hips in kind, making certain there was no mistaking what he meant. B.D.’s nerves caused her to bite her lower lip, but did not stop her from reaching down and curling her fingers around the hard length sandwiched between their bodies. Compared to the rest of Raven’s skin, the blood-rushed shaft was warmer, but she was yet warmer still. Anticipation of that heat enveloping him made Raven tremble, his arms nearing collapse as first contact was made.
They both marveled at the sensation, neither having experienced anything quite like it before. As he entered her with a gentle push, B.D. felt a slight rush a fluid she assumed was blood from her hymen rupturing. To both her surprise and relief, all the other effects swirling in her consciousness swallowed any sensations of pain with great ease. Raven reveled in her close quarters, and knowing her blood now stained his skin only excited him all the more, and he twitched inside her. B.D. clenched and moaned in response, causing Raven to vocalize as well.
He began the act then, slow and deliberate motions, sliding himself in and out of her ever-increasing wetness. Her hips rocked into a rhythm with his, pushing upwards, begging him to go deeper. He obliged, each thrust bringing him closer to the hilt until he could feel that exquisitely tight outer ring around his base. B.D. raised her legs and wrapped them around his hips, intensifying both the pressure and pleasure inside her.
Raven’s movements picked up speed, his flesh soon pounding into hers. B.D.’s hips kept pace, bucking up at him with equal force. She craned back her neck, moaning his name. He replied with a growl, slamming hard against her. B.D. moaned again, nearing a scream, and their motions slowed. The girl lowered her head again, a different kind of flush now in her cheeks.
"Do that again," she begged, her breath shallow. Raven’s eyes flashed with that now familiar fire.
"Oui Cher." He growled again, loving the dull slap as skin met skin. His hips collided with hers again and again, harder each time. He read the ecstasy on her face, listened to her moans and screams increase in pitch and volume as she neared climax. Still harder and faster he pounded into her warmth until he felt her walls spasm and the telltale surge of fluid around him. Her muscles relaxed then and she smiled, out of breath and eyes shining.
"Good?” he asked, mirroring her expression, his breathing equally labored.
"Oh God Raven," was all she managed to whisper.
"More?" he offered, with that impish grin still on his face. B.D. nodded her enthusiasm, laughing a bit. Raven then bent down and took her in his strong, lean arms, her own going about his neck. With a grunt he rocked back onto his knees, lifting the girl with him, who squealed and giggled in delight. He turned fully around and brought his legs out from under him, then collapsed backwards, so that the two had switched positions. B.D. lavished him with kisses until he put his hands on her waist and lifted her up away from him. He grinned again as he set her down, his rigid shaft slipping right back into her. She gasped and trembled, and a rumble escaped Raven's throat as he spoke.
"Ride me, Petite." B.D. obeyed, grinding hard against him. The heightened pressure of the new position gave her another climax within mere moments. Raven cupped her breasts in his hands and ordered, "Harder." Again, the girl did as she was told. He no longer allowed her to stop between orgasms, insisting she go on, harder and harder after each.
B.D. was just beginning to lose herself in their passions, when without warning Raven grabbed her waist and his head flew back. Animalistic growls and snarls escaped his open mouth, and his eyes shut tight. B.D. fixated on his canines as they grew and became glistening fangs, but was soon otherwise engaged, for he pounded up at her with sudden renewed force. She screamed as he exploded, rattling the room’s antique windows in their frames.
As the wave hit, Raven’s eyes snapped open, burning redder than Scorch's, and B.D. couldn’t help but stare into them. She felt as though the room around them was stretching and rushing past, her ears convinced the others had joined them as that sense flooded with untamed chanting. The edge of her vision caught scenes of wild dances about immense fires, and somehow she knew the celebrants were tribal warriors. She still saw Raven before her, but now she stood on high, presiding over her own worship. A forest clearing in the dark of night soon came into view, and just below the treetops a waning moon glowed as red as the blood now smeared at her feet. The scent of it wafted up to her, mingling with smoke, sweat, strong drink and roasting meat. She exhaled, as though her lungs were making room to further appreciate the offerings.
Raven began ascending to the pedestal on which she stood and upon arrival, he embraced her and tilted is head to one side, offering his neck to her lips. An unexpected thirst rose within her, and, acting on instinct, she pierced his flesh with newfound fangs. His blood flowed over her tongue, thick and smooth and vital. He shuddered in her arms but managed to maintain his balance, vocalizing as if teetering between extreme pleasure and pain. When his cries were reduced to whimpers she pulled away, the skin of his neck and chest now stained with that life essence. B.D. felt beyond reenergized, as though she’d only just been born. Even through the rising din of the war cries around them, she heard Raven whisper, “My Mother... my Queen.”
The sound of his voice brought her back to the room, the firelight far more docile from the wax candles. For a moment, everything still seemed tinged with crimson moonlight, but when she blinked it flowed away, and B.D. felt the blood-infused tears roll down her cheeks. She licked her lips, tasting again the rich copper she’d enjoyed in the forest clearing.
Then, seeing Raven for the first time with these new eyes, she lunged for his still bleeding throat. Her breath heavy, she ran her tongue along his neck, cleaning his pale flesh of the red stain. He bent his head and affectionately scraped his fangs against her skin, a low rumble emanating from his chest like a cat’s purr. His voice ragged and nearly silent, he declared, "It is done."
Below them in the great hall, Scorpian’s voice dropped out of the chant and joined Raven’s in his declarations:
“My Mother... my Queen... it is done!”
As the chant sputtered out like a doused candle, the dark woman lost consciousness, falling into Phoenix’s waiting arms.
B.D. reveled in her new senses. The taste of Raven’s blood and flesh were sharp as his teeth, and deep as his eyes. That most sensitive of places on her body refused to acknowledge his absence, yet still longed for his return. Her climaxes had been as nothing else before, a fact she couldn’t solely attribute to Raven being her first partner. Even thinking back on the experience rekindled the pleasure’s surge, so that in the haze of her afterglow she continued to vocalize. Raven’s voice drifted on the edges of her consciousness.
“You are enjoying the Gift, Cher, no?”
“Mmm, oui,” she replied, grinning at her own cleverness. Raven laughed, sharing her amusement.
“Perhaps we have more of an influence on you than we hoped!” He began running his fingers through her hair, a gesture that was fast becoming a familiar comfort to them both. But ever mindful of his task, Raven knew the haze couldn’t last forever. He took a deep breath. “As such, Mon Amour, you deserve to know why you are here.”
B.D. sat forward, pulling the red satin sheets about her form as she turned to face him. This was the first opportunity Raven had been given to look on her as a fellow Vampire. Her new skin, pale and flawless, seemed to glow in the golden light from the candles. Her turquoise eyes, all the more striking, now saw as he did, and were perpetually wide with the wonderment of it all. He had to fight his baser instinct to take her again, but although he Felt her mutual desire for that, the matter at hand was far more pressing. He drew in his breath to steady himself before beginning.
“Long ago, our ways were the common ways. The people in what is now England, Scotland, Ireland, they followed the Old Ones as we do as a matter of course. Over the centuries, these Arts were lost, stolen or destroyed by invading conquerors. This much, you are aware of, oui?” B.D. nodded, and he continued.
“But this is only half our plight. There was also a time when Vampires were accepted as fellow children of the Mother, when we lived during the humans’ night as their protectors, and they acted in kind in the daylight. We kept away darkness’ predators, and worked tandem Magicks for prosperity with the Wise People. We fed from the willing of our collectives, their blood spilt for our lives and the favor of the Gods. But as with our rituals and beliefs, this partnership, this covenant, was broken with the invasion from the East, and we became feared, reviled, and forgotten.” Raven’s brown eyes softened as he spoke, and a single tear fell from his lashes, leaving a light rose trail. B.D. touched her hand to his in empathy, and he took the moment to compose himself once more.
“The world around us is dying. Every newborn generation loses more of its natural potency in communing with the Old Ones. Both human and Vampire alike are suffering, becoming lost in the mindlessness that has overtaken modern society. Being deprived of the Love of the Old Ones has caused carelessness in many humans, and they now pollute the air and water, the breath and blood of the Earth, with no thoughts of the future repercussions. However…” Raven straightened his back, and the passion fire burned in his eyes once more. “…I have been Called, Charged by the Gods of my predecessors with reminding Her children of their place and abilities. Vampires must remember our legacy as protectors, and all must be re-infused with the Glory of the Gods, which will be the salvation of the Living Earth beneath us. The Morrigan, our Mother, demands it.” Raven looked pointedly at B.D. then, lowering his eyes just a bit, a sign of respect.
“So... how do I fit into this?” Despite her slight confusion at her companion’s actions, B.D. knew she couldn’t be here only by random chance. Raven took her hand in his, his touch gentle, but no longer cool to hers.
“Several months ago, we were given a message that our Mother would come to us. Scorpian, you see, is connected to Her. The Morrigan speaks to us in her voice, and during our Beltane rite She prophesized Her own coming. She told me what and who to watch for, how I would know Her when She arrived. Scorch was our sentry, taught methods to test anyone believed or suspected to be our Mother’s honored vessel. If her observations seemed promising, she was to bring the Chosen to me, to perform the final evaluation.” The song from their first meeting began to echo in B.D.’s mind as Raven spoke. She had to fight through it to form her next question.
"So wait... you think I'm the Morrigan?" The revelation pushed her brows and lids up away from her eyes, and the forest chants echoed in her memory. Raven gave a thoughtful look.
"I believe you are to Her as the ocean is to water; you are made of Her, but not Her sole manifestation. You share your name with a very potent herb, one that gives visions to those willing to See, and entices warriors to battle, both things our Mother presides over. This is a happy coincidence though, it was how you succumbed to Scorch and reacted to the song that told me I had found my Mother again.” The air around him seemed to shimmer and B.D.’s awareness flashed back to the clearing, the scent of the burnt offerings strong and real once more. She felt this new Vampire blood flowing through her, but it was now a familiar natural feeling, as though it had always been so. Raven remained before her, the only constant between the two realities, but in the light of the raging bonfire his eyes lost several centuries.
The memory of his creation played back in her mind, like watching a film through the camera’s lens; she witnessed the acts in the first person, but the experience didn’t come from her consciousness. After draining the blood from his jugular and hearing him swear his allegiance, she had taken him away from the frenzy and the fire. The summer air kept them warm as they left the flames behind, and a mist that roamed the wood shrouded them from sight as they came to a secluded grove of trees, among them oak, birch, and ash. Within the grove grew a ring of mushrooms, a place the Fair Folk used to access the mortal world. In the center of that ring is where she laid him down and, after triggering her menses by mere force of will, Loved him and bestowed her Gift.
The air twitched again and the mansion’s boudoir came back into focus. B.D. knew Raven had spoken the truth, because she now recognized the Vampire as her own child. She knew she was his Mother. Just before his eyes once more betrayed his true age, B.D. saw Scorpian’s reflection, instead of her own, peering out from those entrancing pools. She dropped her gaze to her lap, her voice low when she next spoke.
“If Scorpian can talk as your Mother, why wasn’t she Chosen?”
“That is not her path, Cher. Her purpose is to speak for the Mother, not act.” B.D. considered the nagging tugs destiny had seemed to give her thus far, and in that light, Raven’s words made more sense, though it was far from complete.
“OK... but why does the Morrigan even need to intervene? I mean, couldn’t you, and your group, just try to do this on your own?” Raven smiled and let out a gentle laugh, and the air of mentor-to-student became obvious in his inflection.
“Oh, B.D., Ma Petite Belle, it is far more complicated than that. Not only do we need an audience with the Vampire Tribal Council, we must appeal to the Divine spark within all Vampires. Most forget their origins, their Mothers and Fathers, but Their Love still dwells with the forgetful. We need to help them rediscover that Love.” B.D. furrowed her brow in confusion.
“Council? More Mothers and Fathers?” Raven lifted his hand to her sleek black hair, petting and entwining it in his fingers.
“I realize you aren’t yet aware of your own history. It is something we all experience, instead of merely being told. You have the beginnings of this knowledge already, from our first meeting.” The memories of ancient places, peace and destruction, greed and community, flashed through B.D.’s consciousness, as though the scenes were spliced through a film reel.
“The visions I saw.” Her breath nearly smothered the whisper as revelation draped over her like a heavy cloak. She lifted her gaze to meet Raven’s, the soft smile on his face growing.
“Oui, Cher." As their eyes remained locked, their passion rekindled. The intimate heat began to grow in them both, and B.D. found it all the more intense contrasted with her new cool, Vampire skin. Raven barely contained a growl before snapping his eyes shut, blinding his desire from the girl. She understood, dropping her view back to their hands, still clasped together. She gathered her breath.
“I still don’t get what I have to do with all this. I mean, I understand what your tests were for and what they told you, but... why me?” She hoped the question didn’t bring the stereotype of the whiney teenager to Raven’s mind. She felt relief as he smirked, the aura of a mentor again surrounding him.
“The Whys are not foretold to us. We follow what we are given, and discover the Whys for ourselves. The Mother does not spoon-feed us that way. She merely gives us the mechanics, the rest is up to us.” As the final words sounded, he turned, reaching for the dark wood nightstand behind him. Turning back, he presented a glass vessel, similar to a wine bottle but smaller. He held it in both hands, turning it over and gazing into the liquid inside. It was dark, but its color was otherwise indeterminable. It coated the sides of the bottle as blood would.
“This aids our discovery,” he said, handing it to his companion. B.D. mimicked his earlier motions, nearly fascinated by the elixir’s confined flow.
“How?” she asked, her voice quiet as before.