55 The Understanding*
Aegin had certainly never heard of a creature like the boy they had kidnapped, but it was certain he wouldn't forget any time soon. Aegin had managed to catch a snake after some work, and after tying its mouth closed, Aegin brought it back to where the boy sat still in the carriage. Upon seeing the snake, the boy titled his head.
"What?" asked Aegin, "Is this not good enough either?"
The boy gave a faint grin, "Just never tried snake blood before".
The boy held out his hand, and Aegin handed the snake over. The snake was not impressed in the slightest, it had been struggling to get away since it was caught. It had tried to strike several times, but Aegin had been too fast for it, and now something was stopping it from opening its mouth. The snake briefly made eye contact with the boy he was being handed too, and immediately froze in place. That look...the snake didn't like that look.
As the snake struggled with a renewed strength, Aegin watched as the boy opened his mouth and two fangs extended from his upper jaw. Just as quickly, they pierced into the snake's body. The snake froze up.
Aegin watched as the boy seemed to drink the blood of the snake, after a moment, the boy paused, glancing up at Aegin as if contemplating something, then the boy continued to drink. He didn't stop until the four metre long snake was drained dry.
Rassa pushed the snake back through the bars, not regretting his decision in the least. Who knew when his next meal would be.
Rassa wiped the outside of his mouth, barely a drop of blood having escaped, then he retracted his fangs.
Rassa cracked a smile, "Not for me".
Aegin was silent for a moment as he glanced at the dead snake, then he picked it up and hoisted it over his shoulders, "What's your name?"
Thankfully, the next few days weren't spent in perpetual aching hunger. The snake had been rather large, and had at least alleviated the hunger to a degree, though it was not enough for Rassa to feel full. Not that he could with the chains but he had a rough idea of what the chains were causing him to feel and what he actually felt. Aegin didn't speak to him at all during the day, though there were frequent glances and smirks from beneath his black mask.
Rassa knew from the moment Aegin had gone to retrieve food that he'd found an ally of sorts. Perhaps not one that would set him free, but at the very least one that had an understanding. The following night, Victor returned for another lesson, another one to do with Vampire political structures. Rassa was only watching, but he felt exhausted doing so. Had it always been like this? Watching as they shifted and moved around their prey like rivalling wolf packs. Each just waiting to find their opponent's weak spot. The 'prey' in this case, varied. Sometimes it was land disputes, which coven had rights to which feeding grounds. Of course, those they were feeding on often had no idea that that was how they were referred to, but the Vampires didn't seem to care about that. They also fought over resources, after blood, the most prominent resource was crystals. It seemed that in this era, the great boost in technology was thanks to the use of crystal energies. The Sun Crystals were one example, but there were many more varieties that each had their own uses. Rassa took great interest in this, and made a note to ask to see more about it in future lessons.
The third most fought over topic in the council chambers, were the Coven lines of succession. Not only who the successors would be, but who they would marry, where their interests lay, and what moves they would make to solidify their power. Another interesting fact that Rassa learned in one of these arguments, Vampires could have more than one marriage partner. At least, those of a higher class could. This higher class seemed to consist of the Coven Heads and their immediate Subordinates, and their immediate Descendants. As such, a female Vampire could have more than one husband, and a male Vampire could have more than one wife. That was not to say this went both ways however. Only the Vampire with the highest standing was allowed this privelege, as his or her bloodline was considered the priority in being passed on. Those who married this individual did not have the same rites to go and marry another.
It was confusing, and led to quite a bit of scandal. A fact that seemed to amuse the bored Vampires quite a bit. Living for so long, it was almost like they sought to break the rules just to have something to do.
Fortunately, when Rassa woke up this time, he was still in the same spot. He knew it'd be a risk every time he ventured into the memories now, as he clearly had no awareness of the outside world when he did so. The fact that he'd been moved without his knowledge the first two times had left him uneasy, but he also knew the lessons were necessary. After all, the snake may have died, but it had died content. The lessons were worth something. If the changes were not immediate, surely Rassa could learn more for the future.
He had no intention of staying in these chains for the rest of his life.
As Rassa blinked awake, he became aware of Aegin's presence again. Clearly, they'd put Aegin on watch again tonight. Aegin glanced through the bars at Rassa.
Rassa shrugged. Wasn't like he would say no.
Aegin grinned, then indicated for Rassa to come to the bars so Aegin could take the mask off.
Rassa did so, and as the mask fell off his face, Rassa took a deep breath. It felt much better with it off.
Aegin passed a possum through the bars, "Sorry, it was the best I could come up with".
Rassa shrugged. It hadn't been long since he last fed anyway. But, knowing his next meal was not guaranteed, Rassa drained the possum before passing it back through the bars.
"How long have you been like this?" asked Aegin as he sat on the side of the carriage, taking out a knife to skin the possum.
Rassa thought for a moment, "Almost 3 and a half years".
Aegin was silent before he asked another question.
"Why did you let them catch you?"
Rassa frowned, "I thought you weren't supposed to ask questions".
Aegin looked at Rassa through the bars, "That doesn't mean I won't".
Rassa's eyes narrowed, then he turned to look up at the moon, "The first time, I did it partly to protect my parents, and partly because I believed they would come around. That they'd understand so long as I showed them I wasn't what they had been led to believe. When that backfired spectacularly, I only wanted to make sure it wouldn't happen again. That I could be contained until I regained control. It was only when I was stuck in these chains that I worked out that control was a relative term".
"So...why don't you try to break out?" asked Aegin.
Rassa turned to look at him, a small smile on his face, "Because if I was to do so now, even if I was capable, I would be hunted for the rest of my life. I would rather not spend the life I have killing needlessly because they can't take a hint".
"They're never going to let you go. If you don't die in those chains, you'll spend the rest of your life in them," Aegin warned.
"I will wait until I am strong enough. Or until they take it a step too far. Whichever allows me to escape first," Rassa replied.
"Where you're going, I pretty sure it'll be the latter," Aegin stated.
Rassa frowned. It hadn't occured to him that Aegin knew where they were headed, he turned his questioning gaze to Aegin.
"Jerrica," Aegin replied, "They're going to lock you up in the depths of the Jerrica Mines".