21 The Answer to all the Killing*
Regardless of whether the training sessions were valid or not, Rassa still ventured out every night, usually much later than normal and without his father's company. Sometimes it was to practice, other times to hunt, but the most common thing that Rassa loved to do more than anything else, was run.
Rassa could spend hours moving across the north-western landscape with nothing to bar his way. He had practically mapped the entire thing to memory, and it was during one of these occasions that he discovered the pleasures of the Varkevia Night Market.
After all, if a two kilometre sprint took him barely ten seconds, 60 kilometres was easy for Rassa to cover in a little over 5 minutes.
Despite his poor attire of a shirt, trousers, boots a jacket and his hood, Rassa realised quite quickly that his pale skin drew attention. His dark hair and eyes were also a topic of discussion, as he realised by listening in on the various conversations in the market. After some consideration, he pulled up his hood and continued on his way.
The market was filled with all manner of goods. Clothing, jewellery, baskets, pins, candles, and all manner of food, whether freshly cooked or freshly grown. Rassa marvelled at its splendour, and even paused in the central square where a minstrel band played merrily for the crowd that gathered. It was walking past one such Vendor that Rassa was forcefully drawn in.
"Hey! Boy, come over and try these brand new honey cakes! They're all the rage in the capital!" the Vendor bragged.
Rassa paused for a moment and looked over, the flower shaped cakes were small, but glazed over the top, and Rassa looked up at the Vendor, "I have no money".
The Vendor seemed disappointed, "What about your parents? Surely one of them is around?"
On que, the Vendor looked up and down the street then back at Rassa.
"Sorry," Rassa shrugged with a small smile.
"Ah, probably for the best," the Vendor sighed in disappoint in a much quieter tone, "These things are addicting their so sweet and such sweet things are best had in moderation. A little every day".
Rassa knew the statement was not directed at him as the Vendor went to draw another customer in. But still, the last four words suddenly reverberated in Rassa.
A little every day? Why hadn't he thought of that?
As the realisation dawned on Rassa that perhaps, just maybe, he wouldn't have to take lives so easily to survive anymore, he was filled with excitement.
He didn't dally any longer in the market, he exited the city directly, and made way for the woods.
It had only been four days since he had fed previously, so he was a little hungry. Deciding it was closer to the lake, Rassa waited until he was closer to the village before he hunted.
He found a large stag, and didn't hesitate to lock his sights on it, directly bringing it down to the ground and locking its kicking limbs in place.
Rassa extended his fangs, a process that had once been painful was now second nature. He leaned forward, and sunk his fangs into the stag's neck.
It had taken Rassa some time to practice cleanliness when drinking blood. The first several times the blood easily spilled from his mouth and ran down his chin and neck, staining his clothing. Eventually, Rassa learned to take smaller mouthfuls so that he could swallow more easily. It was almost embarrassing, and had there been others apart from his father who could have gotten past the fact that Rassa was drinking blood, then perhaps he would have been more self-conscious. After all, learning to swallow with your mouth wide open and at various angles was not exactly easy. He had learned eventually though. With the added affect of his fangs producing a toxin that immobilised his prey, it made learning cleanliness while eating that much easier.
But, like every time Rassa began to drink blood, the overwhelming need for more encompassed him. Forcing control over his instincts, Rassa sucked and swallowed in smaller amounts, paying attention to his appetite. While is mind told him to continue, his body told him it was enough.
It was as he'd thought, the Stag was still alive. Terrified judging from it's rapid heartbeat, but alive. Rassa couldn't help the joy that spread through him. He didn't have to kill! He began to pull back from the Stag's neck, but his instincts fought against him. They urged him to continue, to complete the kill. After closing his eyes and forcing his instincts to submit, Rassa succeeded in pulling away. He felt another urge as he his fangs retracted, the urge to lick over the wound he had made on the Stag. Rassa frowned in disgust. These instincts just kept getting weirder. Turning away, Rassa ran towards the lake to clean up. After all, the Stag would be able to move shortly, larger animals were better at fighting off the immobilising toxins than smaller ones.
The following morning, as Rassa accompanied his father to the fields, he spoke of his discovery in a low voice. His dad was thrilled for him, and encouraged Rassa to keep experimenting with this theory and to keep training in submitting his instincts. Rassa nodded seriously. After all, this was the first time in three years that he saw an end to the killing. Regardless of whether they were just animals or not, Rassa did not like taking life. He had come to see it as a necessity for blood, but that didn't mean he was comfortable with it, expecially when in his worst moments of hunger, his fangs would ache for the blood of those he loved. Be it friends, family or any random individual, nobody was safe from Rassa's hunger, and he had worked incredibly hard to ensure their safety. It was likely they would never know what he suffered. When his body ached so terribly he struggled to move even a muscle. When his throat burned like a branding iron yet there was no relief to be found. No relief, bar from that which was sitting just beneath the surface of every individual's skin. There had been nights where he'd almost surcumbed, only to have his father direct him to the woods like one sheepdog with its flock. Thankfully, those days seemed a distant memory now.
It was not until that afternoon when the hunters returned with the body of stag with fang marks on its neck that Rassa realised his mistake.