Burning agony wakes me from my slumber as my blood begins to circulate for the first time. The pain intensifies with every move I make, but I move as much as I can to speed up the process. Still, it feels like an eternity before my effort pays off and the pain dissipates.
My relief doesn’t last long though, because now that I can focus on my other senses I pick up a sweet smell in the air which causes my blood to ignite again. Opening my eyes, everything is cloudy, but I can vaguely make out someone coming my way. Stopping in front of me, they crouch down and speak, “Hello, little one.”
“He-hello” I say, struggling through my thirst.
The woman laughs, “I’m surprised you can speak at all like that.” She wraps her arms around me and picks me up, “Try not to bite me, kay?”
“Okay,” I answer. Being this close, it’s really difficult to hold myself back, so I can hardly focus on anything else as she carries me around.
“No, no, no,” she says, stopping periodically, until finally, “Aha, we’ve got a winner!” Looking down, I see a man lying on the floor in a pool of blood. “Alright, little one,” the woman puts me down. “Dig in,” she says, pinning his head to the side with her foot.
My instincts guide me as I press my fangs against his neck, and with a little pressure, delicious liquid flows into my mouth. I drink greedily at first, but once my blood calms I slow down and savor my first meal.
After I’ve had my fill I lick the wound so that it’ll heal, causing the woman to giggle and take me by the hand, “Well aren’t you merciful.” She kicks him, but he remains unconscious, “It’s not gonna do him any good, but I guess it’s the thought that counts.” She says, conjuring a ball of black fire and tossing it on the floor.
She repeats the process a couple times and then, in the blink of an eye we’re standing outside. “Woah,” I say as I realize what happened. She must be quite powerful if she can teleport so easily, which means I’m really lucky to have her as my guardian.
Wondering what species she is, I look up at her. The first thing that I see are her alluring pink eyes, followed by her perfectly sculpted face, and then the two horns atop her head. Before I can come to a conclusion, she lets go of my hand saying, “Well, this is where we part ways, little vampire.”
“You’re leaving me here?” I ask nervously.
“My job was to deal with the summoners, I only helped you out on a whim.” She pats me on the head, “You should be glad, you’ll be the only real vampire on this world.”
“But-” she disappears in a puff of black smoke before I can finish, leaving me alone in the street.
So much for being lucky, I probably won’t survive the rest of the day at this rate. My inherent knowledge mainly pertains to the demon realm, so I hardly know anything when it comes to survival among humans. I guess I’ll just have to try my best to blend in and hope I can find a way to feed myself...
My thoughts are interrupted by a womans voice from behind me, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” I turn around, and the angry old lady points her walking stick at me, “Where are your clothes, girl? Did your parents not teach you any decency?”
Demons don’t really have parents, but I decide not to tell her that. “I’ve never had any clothes, and they didn’t teach me anything.” I reply honestly, which seems to make her even more angry.
“And a smart mouth, too. Had you been one of my girls I would’ve tanned your hide for that.” She lowers her cane, “Where do you live, child? I’ll be having a word with your parents.”
Where do I live? I shrug, just as the curtains in the house behind me burst into flames.
The old lady takes one look at the fire and freezes, but after a few seconds she snaps out of it and yells, “Fire! There’s a fire!” She walks in my direction, “I bet you’re responsible for this, you little heathen!”
I make a break for it as she reaches out to grab me, and make my way down the street- passing a group of people who stare at me on my way by. Just as I’m about to round the corner, I hear the old lady yelling, “Stop that brat! She’s the arsonist responsible for this!”
Running as fast as my legs will take me, I search for a good hiding place, and soon one presents itself. It’s an old house with boards over the windows, and a hole in the bottom of the front door just large enough for me to fit through.
I make a beeline for the house, but I don’t even make it halfway there before someone grabs me from behind. If it weren’t for my plan to blend in I would’ve tried to bite them, but I suppress the urge and don’t struggle.
“Quite the runner, aren’t ya?” A deep- yet womanly- voice asks me.
I have no clue what a human would say in this situation, so I just stay silent as she turns me around crouches down to my level. “Did you start the fire?” She asks, her brown eyes boring into my own.
“No.” I reply, matching her gaze.
We stare for a few seconds, then a man comes up behind her and holds out a jacket with a grunt.
“Thanks, Mike.” The woman says, taking it and wrapping it around my shoulders. “Arson or not, we can’t have you running around without any clothes,” she says while fastening the buttons.
Once she’s done she stands back up and looks me down. The jacket is so big on me that it goes down to my knees, which seems to satisfy her. “Now that that’s taken care of, mind telling me your name, child?”
“I don’t have one.” I answer.
She frowns at that, “Your parents never gave you a name?”
I shake my head, “I don’t have any parents either.”
The man behind her sighs, “Well, that explains the lack of clothes.”
The stout woman pats me on the head, “You’ve had it rough, huh.”
I haven’t really, at least not yet, but it’s better not to say that. “Alright,” the man says, “Let’s go see if they need any help with the fire. We can deal with her when we’re done.”
The woman nods and takes me by the hand, “Come on, Rose.”
“Rose?” I ask, wondering if she's talking about me.
“It suits you.” The man says to me with a smile, “Your eyes are beautiful like red roses.”
“Really?” I ask, “I’ve never seen them before.”
“There are some growing on the other side of town, I’ll bring you to see them when this is all over.” The woman says.
“I meant my eyes.” I say, causing the man to snicker, “But I’d like that.”
We walk back to the house- which is now a raging inferno- and a man in blue robes rushes up to us. “Martha, Mike, I'm glad youre here. We need your help containing this thing.”
“Really?” The woman- Martha- asks, “You’ve got at least five water mages here.”
“There’s something unnatural about this fire, it won’t go out no matter how much water we throw it at. It takes everything we’ve got just to stop it from spreading.”
“Alright,” Mike says, “Let’s try another way then.” He grins at Martha, “That is, if you’re feeling up to it?”
“Always.” Martha grins back, then crouches in front of me again. “Rose, be a good girl and wait here, okay?”
I nod, it’s not like I’ve got anywhere else to go, and blending in has been far easier than I had imagined.
Martha pats me on the back, then she and Mike walk up to the fire and nod to each other before placing their hands on the ground. Thirty seconds pass with nothing happening, but then I notice rumbling under my feet. The tremors grow more violent as the dirt around the house begins to rise up, forming a bowl around it which the water mages begin pumping full of water.
It climbs higher and higher until the entire house is obscured within, and the mages keep adding water until it starts to spill from the top. The two earth mages give each other a high five once the job is done, then they walk back to us with pride in their steps. “And that’s that.” Mike says to Lawson. The water mage doesn’t reply, because he and I are too busy watching the flaming water that's overflowing down the side of the bowl. “What is it?” He asks, to which the we just point.
The earth mages turn around and Martha curses, “Oh shit.”
“Chaos magic!” Mike says, looking to Lawson, “Hurry, summon the Magus!”
“R-right!” The water mage stutters, reaching into his robe pocket to pull out a clay tablet which he then snaps in half and tosses on the ground.
Seconds later, the air above the tablet seems to tear open as a solid black portal forms, and then a voice shouts out of it. “Seriously!? This is the second time today!” She grumbles something I can’t make out, then yells again, “This better be important!”
A redheaded girl steps out of the portal in a bathrobe, and immediately looks me over with and grins, “Well, what do we have here?”
Does she know? My heart sinks and I contemplate running for it, but her attention shifts to the water mage who has begun shouting.
“Miss Magus!” He points to the bowl- which is more of a volcano at this point. “Chaos magic!”
The Magus looks at me one more time, then floats a few feet into the air before stopping to mumble something about flashing people and landing back on the ground. She walks up to the pool of flames and studies it for a few seconds before digging around in her bathrobe pockets.
“Here goes nothin,” she says, pulling out some sand and sprinkling it onto the water. Then, the place where it made contact turns turns into sand- which begins to consume the rest of the fire-water like some sort of unholy corruption. I watch in awe as the sand eats its way through all of the flaming water on the ground, and then travels halfway up the bowl before deciding to just eat that too.
Burning water sprays through the holes it creates for a few seconds, but it’s quickly turned into a simple sand-spout as the sand eats deeper and deeper. Soon, even the smoke rising from the top sputters out, and all that remains is a giant sand bowl- which collapses into a harmless pile after another snap of her fingers.
“There we go.” The Magus nods in satisfaction, “When you’ve got a naughty spell running amok, just kill it with sand.” She pauses in contemplation, “Actually, that applies to just about anything that’s running amok- isn’t sand just great?”
The display was equal parts entertaining and terrifying, but I know for sure that I do not want to be on her bad side. Almost as soon as I think that, the Magus turns towards me, as if she read my mind.
I’m shaking in my non-existent boots as she approaches, but it’s too late to flee at this point. “Now then,” She says, staring down at me. “Who would this be?”
She’s met with silence from me, but Martha comes to my rescue, “Her name is Rose, Magus.”
“Well then, Rose, I assume you have something to do with this,” She gestures to the sand. “Chaos magic.”
“We believe she-” Martha starts before the Magus raises her hand to cut her off.
“I wasn’t asking you.”
“I…” What do I say? Telling a lie seems even more risky than telling the truth to someone like this, but I don’t want to give up on blending in just yet… Maybe I can tell the truth in a way that doesn’t give me away? It’s worth a shot, I guess. “It wasn’t me.” I say, to which she snorts.
“That much is obvious, a whelp like you would hardly be able to cast normal flames- let alone something like this. No, you didn’t do this, but I bet you know who did.”
“I do.” I say with a little hesitation, “I saw her do it.” Selling out one powerful person to save myself from another doesn’t seem like the greatest idea, but it’s all I’ve got.
“Do tell.” she says, out of patience.
“It was a woman with pink eyes.” The Magus gestures for me to continue. “And she was beautiful…? I mean, I didn’t see too much of her because she teleported away.”
“Alright,” the Magus says, “That brings me to my next question. How did you run into this arsonist in the first place?”
It’s really hard to stretch the truth for this one, “I ran into her- actually, she ran into me while I was… searching for food.”
“She’s an orphan.” Martha adds.
“That changes everything,” the sand mage says with an evil smile, shooting me a wink.
Martha looks confused, “How so?”
“Because I’m going to adopt her.”
That catches me completely off guard. She can’t be serious, can she? I mean, even if she is, there’s no way I’d be able to feed in her presence, and that’s assuming she doesn’t know what I am.
“That’s great!” Mike says, then he and Martha start clapping, “Congratulations, Rose!”
That Magus adds to their clapping, but keeps up her evil smile. “Well let's get going then, daughter. We’ve got much to discuss.” She says, grabbing me by the hand and summoning a portal in front of us.
I REALLY don’t want to go with her, so I try to think of a reason to stay, and I remember the conversation I had with Martha earlier. “Wait!” I say, “Martha’s gonna take me to see the roses!”
Martha shoots me down, “That’s alright, I’m sure the Magus will bring you to see them later.”
With that, the Magus drags me into the portal, not even giving time for goodbyes.
The first thing I notice on the other side is the bright sunlight shining me in the face, followed by the hot sand under my feet. Shielding my eyes with my free hand, I look around and see that we’re on a beach.
“Come on then.” The Magus says, giving my arm a tug, “The house is this way.”
I keep my gaze locked on my feet as I follow behind her, not wanting to risk eye contact, and the few minutes it actually takes to get to her house feel like an eternity because my mind is in overdrive.
She leads me through the front door and sits me down on a comfortable sofa before plopping down right next to me. “Are you hungry?” she asks, and I shake my head. “Ah, my bad. I meant thirsty.”
Suddenly I smell an overpowering sweet scent, except it’s far too strong to for my tastes and I start shaking with terror as I turn to see the Magus’ bleeding finger. After staring at it for a couple seconds I look away and squeeze out a question, “A-are you going to kill me?”
“Actually,” she says, “I was serious about adopting you, I just have to make sure of some things first.”
“Like what?” I ask, sure I’m going to regret it.
“You see, I’ve dealt with vampires before, and not one has been able to resist my blood.”
“Really? It smells far too sweet for my liking.”
She snickers “Thanks for confirming that for me, I was beginning to wonder whether or not you were a vampire after all.”
I reach up and cover my mouth and she giggles, “You’ve already been busted, silly.”
I lower my hand, feeling like a fool. “What gave me away? I mean, before you brought me here.”
“I had a feeling you weren’t human the moment I noticed your eyes, but with you being out in the sunlight, the last thing I expected was for you to be was a vampire- at least, until I saw your fangs. Thing is, my house is warded against vampires, yet you came in without any problems- which sent me back to square one until you gave yourself away.”
My cheeks heat up as she continues, “So, my theory is that instead of being turned, you were born naturally but with only a single vampire parent. That would explain your resistance to sunlight, and why my wards didn’t react to you. Oh, and why you didn’t go for my throat the second you smelled my blood.”
“People can be turned into vampires?” I ask.
“They can, and while it wouldn’t work on me, all it takes for a regular person is a single bite.”
“Well, nobody I’ve bitten has turned into a vampire.” Though I’ve only bitten one person, and they’re probably dead. Still, I don’t think I can turn anyone into a vampire.
“Actually, that’s one of the things I need to make sure of.” She holds her arm out to me, “I want you to bite me, and afterwards I need you to tell me everything you know about that arsonist.”
That’s the last thing I want, her blood is so strong that I’m sure it will make me sick. “But I’m not thirsty.”
“Too bad, you’ll have to drink at least a little, that way I can tell if you’re contagious or not. I can’t risk you causing an outbreak, after all.”
Back to trembling again, I ask, “And if I am contagious?”
“Then I kill you.” She states flatly. “And if you don’t drink, I’ll assume you’re contagious and kill you anyways.”
I’m so terrified that I can’t hold back the tears escaping my eyes, but she ignores my distress and pushes her wrist against my lips “Don’t worry, if things go wrong I’ll make sure it’s quick and painless.”
Resigning myself, I open my mouth and bite down as gently as I can- which probably ends up hurting more because of how slow I’m going. Her blood flows into my mouth and my heart skips a few beats. It’s so unimaginably delicious that I can’t stop myself from taking more, and... Suddenly I’ve got a tingling sensation in my belly and I feel all warm and fuzzy.
I release my bite, and the Magus says something, but I can’t tell what because the feeling in my stomach is getting worse. The tingling turns into prickling, which turns into burning, and finally numbness. And then, the numbness travels up my esophagus and out of my mouth.
I only realize what’s happening after I’ve evacuated the contents of my stomach and I’m lying on the floor- too weak to move. Someone is shaking me, but I can’t even open my eyes to see who- though it’s probably the Magus. Is this how I die? I wonder as my consciousness fades away.