That bitch cut out my tongue and took it. The fucking audacity. I couldn’t even use a sigil to reattach it because I didn’t have it and I knew it would be costly if I tried regrowing it with a sigil. At least I could repair the slash in my cheek so I wasn’t drooling like an idiot, but I still had to sit at the back and lean out the wagon to drain my mouth because I couldn’t swallow well. Fuck, it was annoying. And then the wagon ride. For hours without being able to do anything. I just stared at my book, trying to read, trying to keep my mind off of the shitstorm from before. It was eating at my mind. The way she was smiling like a maniac through those gritted teeth and beating the shit out of me. Her face was burned into my mind. She had so much pride. So much ego. She thought she was above every living thing. And she flaunted it like a banner. She was a hateful wretch of a person. I wondered what I could do with these poisons. The numbing one made it so Geren couldn’t flex well, and he lost all feeling. That was on my wing points. Was there poison on my tail? Maybe even my horns? Those shackles were a real shock to my senses. I could remember every part of me that reacted strongly. My head where my horns emerged. My back from my wings. My tailbone for my tail. My teeth and nails, but I also felt something in my gums, like an aching that swept into some of my front teeth. I felt that same aching from the back of my neck, my wingtips, and my tail. I ran a finger over the back of my neck, and sure enough it had a strange, slightly tacky residue. I caught the scent of it and it smelled like sweet flowers. Hm, that would make a nice candle. I opened my eyes as I realized I was smelling my hand, and Tells was across from me, eyes squinted, probably thinking I was going nuts. I ran the tips of my fingers over the back of my neck and held them toward her nose and she leaned out of the way. I kept putting my hand closer and she kept leaning until she was laying down, then she grabbed my arm and tossed it aside while she sat up. She sniffed the air for a second, a moment of relaxation coming over her face, and then she looked at me like she realized something.

“That’s what that smell was?”

I shrugged. It probably was.

“For fuck’s sake Vetia,” Desmond was completely across the wagon from me, holding his nose. “Whatever you’re doing, I’m upwind and I can smell it. It’s awful.”

Brenden was laying on the same side as me, head resting by the front of the wagon. “Desmond I don’t smell anything. Did ya shit yourself and blame it on her?”

I tapped his knee and he sat up. I pointed to my neck, ran my hand over it again and held it toward his nose. He awkwardly sat forward and sniffed near it.

“The fuck? How did you… oh wait, can’t talk. Shit. That doesn’t even smell bad, Desmond.”

“Maybe to you assholes it doesn’t smell bad, but it feels like I’m in a department store that specializes shit scented perfume.”

Part of me really wanted to try flexing my neck and see if I could get this stuff flying around like an aerosol, but he looked pretty miserable, and I didn’t want to put him in a worse mood, as funny as it would be. I was idly holding my tail, just feeling it, not really sure how it worked. I realized I would probably need new pants since the one I was wearing couldn’t get up past my tail, and I hated feeling like my ass was so exposed. I tried fixing my belt so it went over my tail and then back to the belt loops, which was uncomfortable and squeezed my tail, but it was a reassuring feeling that my pants weren’t falling off. I ran my hand down my tail. It was cool, kind of leathery like my wings, and that dark red, wine or blood color that my hair and wings had. It was thin, really flexible and probably three feet long. The tip was shaped like the end of a fish hook and had some kind of oily coating and a small slit at the end.

Controlling my tail and wings felt natural now, especially after that little practice I had before everyone woke up when we got here. Though I hadn’t tried flying yet. They were hard to get used to because both my wings and tail were hardly sensitive and couldn’t feel much, like there weren’t many nerves in them. I tried flexing my tail and moving it around, but I couldn’t figure out what that opening was.

My nails were sharp, so I wiped a little of the oil onto my nail and pressed it into my other hand’s pinky tip. Sure enough, I couldn’t feel my nail cutting in. It felt a little numb to the touch after, but no other effects. I tried my ring finger and pressed it into the tip of my tooth. Once again, I couldn’t feel it. Maybe it was supposed to be like a mosquito bite? Like a numbing effect that would let me drink or do whatever my tail did. I felt my horns, which didn’t have any oil or anything on them. They looked cool, so that was enough for me. I’d test my tail at some other time.

Brenden sat back up next to me. “So how are we gonna find you a new tongue? I don’t know how easy it is to hunt firebloods that have replaceable limbs, but we’ve gotta do something.”

I had it all under control. I knew exactly what I was going to do to get my tongue back, but I couldn’t tell them. “Ah ahv ah ah!” Of course I couldn’t say shit. I never realized how useful my tongue was, and it was my only good asset. And of course my dumb ass didn’t try to keep the paper and pencil that Geren lent me.

Brenden just looked at me. “Maybe we should turn around and get back to the village. They might still have a tongue there.”

“O-!” I shook my head at him.

“What the hell? Don’t you want to be able to speak?”

I put my head in my hands and sighed. This was going to suck if they were going to keep this up. I just needed to wait for us to stop. Then I could do what I needed to do. I thought about what I could do, gnawing on my nail a little. My lip went a little numb from it poking into me. Then I got a great idea. I rubbed the tip of my nail on my tail and held my arm out. My nails were sharp and finely pointed, so I could write into my own skin with them and be precise. With the poison it wouldn’t hurt, so I could communicate. I started tracing onto my skin.

“Stop that! What are you doing?” Brenden grabbed my hand.

The best thing I could do was gesture at my nail and my arm and make a bunch of unintelligible sounds. I sliced quickly and showed him my arm. “It can regrow. Need night.” After everyone read it, I traced out a sigil that Mother Yeline showed me to seal small wounds. It drew from my own inner pool, but it was incredibly quick and easy for a tricel. It was three circles, each smaller and inside the last. The activator was putting a finger in the middle, which centralized my own energy to that part for quick heals. The circles did not have to be done well or any specific size, so three small ones could be done in just a few seconds. Considering how much I drank back at the village, I would be fine on energy for a while. The Mother said that most firebloods like me can use their stored feeding energy to fix themselves without using actual energy. She said if I ever did something and ended up with my arms like that again, I could restore them by using my stores instead of waiting to feed to fix them, I just didn’t know how to do that yet. Apparently most firebloods just naturally regenerated, like lizards but way faster, and they didn’t even need energy to do it. I wished I could have something like that, although I was pretty sure that’s the reason they could be harvested for their limbs. That’s how I planned to fix my tongue though, by having a snack when we stopped for the night. I didn’t need to sleep, so I could spend the night hunting.

“Oh right, you’re a fireblood. You can probably just regrow that shit like nothing.” Brenden sounded jealous. I could understand why.

Desmond furrowed his brow and frowned. “Wait, if you’re a fireblood and can just regrow your limbs, then why the hell did we have to go and get one to fix your arms? Somebody else probably could’ve used those arms.”

Brenden looked over at me. “Did you even know you could regrow your limbs?” His eyes went wide. “Is that why you didn’t want us to go?! Why didn’t you tell us? For fuck’s sake, we almost got killed.”

Of course they decided to interrogate the only time in my life that I haven’t been able to talk. I didn’t have the energy to spend an hour cutting my arm up, so I sliced and held my arm out again. “LATER.” I turned away from them toward the road behind me, drained my mouth, and put my head down. Fuck, it was hard not being able to sleep.

* * * * *

Eventually we stopped and set up camp on the side of the road somewhere. I didn’t even bother setting up my tent. I was eying down the corties. If they weren’t so useful, I’d probably drink their blood in secret. Only problem was I didn’t want to risk hurting them because they were expensive. I walked over toward where Brenden was setting up a firepit, set down my bedroll and started walking off into the woods.

I heard Adam behind me. “Aren’t you going to set up your tent? It’s gonna be dark soon.”

I looked at him with my eyebrows raised and opened my mouth, trying to think of something to say, then realized I couldn’t even talk. It would take too long to explain that I was planning to kill something and drain the blood out of it, so I went with the old reliable. I made a farting sound out of the side of my mouth and looked him dead on, trying to look awkward.

“Yup. Makes sense. I think that fruit in my bag did something to me too. Tasted rotten.”

I walked off into the woods, out of sight, and began looking around. The trees and shrubs were awfully similar to the ones from Earth. The trees moreso. Most had dark brown, earthy toned bark, although most of the trees with needles actually had much lighter bark, almost like birch. I was walking through what looked like ferns, but they were inverse, so the wider parts were nearer to the ends. I had been studying archeology, so it was incredible seeing all of these plants that were so similar to Earth’s but had odd traits that made them slightly different from the flora I was used to. I hadn’t seen much of the wildlife, but I could feel it around me. It made this whole hunting thing much easier. There were some birds and small mammals in the trees, but I didn’t know how I would reach them. I walked around for a while, noticing some burrowed into the earth, others in trees. I just couldn’t get to them.

Eventually I came to a grassy clearing full of those backwards ferns. I could sense something’s life in the field. It was alone and calm. It was also pretty big, about the size of a buck. I approached the field and I felt it go on alert as I was stalking in the treeline. I felt a breeze at my back, and realized it could probably smell me. If Desmond could earlier, then it could too. I could sense it becoming more stressed, but I didn’t really have a plan. I didn’t want to let it get away, then I felt an instinct inside me and didn’t even realize it, but I was flexing the back of my neck. That sweet smell filled the air around me and the creature’s mood became calm again, almost completely docile. I stood up and slowly crept forward.

The animal was similar in shape to an alpaca. It had a long neck and dark brown, almost green fur. It didn’t have the puffiness of an alpaca, but short fur that had light dots on it. The legs were long, thin and hooved. It had a catlike tail and rounded ears on the top of its head. Its face was wide and its snout was long, with flat teeth that were casually grinding ferns in its mouth. It looked right at me and just kept eating. I started walking up to it, and I couldn’t feel its emotions changing. Ten feet, five feet, two feet, until I was right next to it. I held out my hand and felt its coarse fur and looked the entire creature over. It was a little taller than me and as casual as ever. I think that scent had a way of pacifying animals, maybe even people. I petted its neck and I could feel its pulse, powerful, but beating slowly. I raised both of my wings and I hugged its neck. The far lower tips of my wings, hooked and poisoned, rested on the upper ends of its two front legs. The hooks slowly began driving in, and the creature didn’t react. It’s legs just began wobbling, and collapsed from under it. After its front legs couldn’t move anymore, I did the same to its hind legs. It was still so docile, though I could feel in its eyes that there it was afraid. It laid down on the ground, still reaching for shrubs to eat, aware that it was going to die, but unable to do anything about it. My tail reached around my body and I pierced its chest, just enough to draw blood. Whatever was in my tail changed its mood. It went from calm, to a kind of happy stupor, like it was drunk. Its eyes dilated and its head lazily hung to the side, sloppily trying to eat more of the ferns. My heart was racing and I was drooling over it. A completely immobile sack of blood wouldn’t have sounded too appetizing to me before I died, but now it was inspiring a rabid, sadistic hunger that I couldn’t ignore. I could feel my fangs and claws slowly protruding, ready to rip through its hide. I drove my teeth into its neck and it didn’t even react. I bit a hole into where I could feel an artery and swallowed the piece whole. Blood was flooding into my mouth. It felt like I had been dehydrated, dying in a desert and I found a spring of water so sweet it was addicting. I wanted so much more, faster. My claws latched onto its sides and began shredding its flesh apart. Blood was entering my system through my skin, and pouring out from the massive gashes. My arms were tingling for more and my claws dug into the animal, reaching all the way into its body, absorbing blood as much as I could. It was overstimulating and yet I wanted more and more. My arms and mouth couldn’t take it. They weren’t enough. My claws were thrashing inside of its body trying to find more of anything, and my arms were trying to squeeze every ounce of blood out of it. I needed more. I released my fangs and tore open its entire neck with my teeth, bleeding it and pressing myself into the wound, biting in even deeper. I could feel the blood on my face, neck and chest being absorbed into my bloodstream. The essence of its life felt like a drug on my system and I had to take all of it.

My head was spinning as I ripped myself away from it. I felt higher than high. Ecstatic and gasping for air as sporadic laughs escaped my mouth. “Fuck, that was good.” I looked down at the eviscerated animal beside me. “Thanks buddy, that's what I needed. To treat myself.” I fell onto my hands and knees, unable to balance myself. The animal wasn’t bleeding anymore, not a drop left for me to find at least. It probably had more in other parts, but it was strange, I wasn’t craving it anymore. The aura, the emotions of the creature weren’t there anymore, nor could I sense any life in it. I must have been craving some sort of life force or energy. It felt like I wanted that more than anything. I couldn’t place exactly what it was. All I knew was that I wasn’t hungry anymore. It was nice knowing that I could probably blend in around regular people. I didn’t need to eat often unless I was using energy, and I didn’t sleep, so I could get food at night. It didn’t really matter what I ate, I guess, as long as it was from something living and feeling. All I really needed was a forest with animals or some eager friends with benefits. Maybe I was a little egotistical, but I had to give myself credit for trying a few things out with Tarynn. Learning I could feed off of basically anything from living creatures by making out with him, and then later trying to feed with sex wasn’t the most dignified thing I had done, but it helped me figure out alternatives to blood that could keep me incognito in a city.

I stood up and looked around, still a little lightheaded like I was high. I saw figures deeper in the woods from where I had come from. I couldn’t see them at all, really, but I could sense that it was my friends.


About the author

Ren Cory

Bio: I'm an amateur writer, but I've got a story in my head that I want to tell. What I write won't always be amazing, but I really think it will get better with experience. I love reading and watching anything fantasy, scifi and anything in that sort of wheelhouse. I've always been inspired by those genres to be creative and do my own thing, creating entirely new worlds, histories, creatures, plants and the whatnot. I like trying out new ideas in the genres I love.

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