56 The Dilemma of Ignorant Servants*
They'd been on the road for two weeks when Rassa finally spotted mountains in the distance. According to Aegin, Jerrica was situated in the Seisin Mountain Range South-East of Barday. Though, it was still a decent journey from the Academy city. The journey was made especially long from any direction around and through the mountain range because the roads were too winding, and the forest too thick for anyone to move quickly. Considering Rassa's captors had decided on a little used path, it was safe to say that their progress was even slower.
It was as they entered the foothills that Rassa finally heard from the leader of the party who until then had been silent, using only hand movements or looks to convey his orders. It was brought up in conversation that Rassa hadn't eaten in two weeks, and hadn't had water in over a week. Clearly, they had no idea that Aegin had been feeding him.
"We've still got another eight days until we reach Jerrica, he needs to eat or he's going to die," spoke one of the captors.
"He looks remarkably well considering," another commented.
"Feed him," the leader ordered simply.
"No need," Aegin stated from his perch on top of the carriage, "Apparently our food won't do him any good anyway".
They all looked up at Aegin, clearly surprised.
"What do you mean?"
Aegin sighed, "He's not human, he doesn't require food or water like we do".
"You've fed him?" asked the leader, clearly upset.
Aegin hesitated, but nodded in the end.
The leader moved so quickly that Rassa felt a little scared. He'd never seen a human move that fast before. Suddenly, Aegin was being held against a tree by his throat, though the boy did not seem to want to struggle as he chocked.
"You interacted with it?" asked the leader.
"..y..yes," Aegin struggled to respond.
The leader dropped Aegin, only to punch him in the gut then knee him in the nose and toss him to the side.
"We were ordered not to talk to it," snapped the leader.
Aegin didn't fight it as he was punished, as the leader continued to hit him while he was down. It disturbed Rassa greatly. In his eyes, Aegin had done nothing wrong, but clearly by conversing with Rassa, he'd done something unforgiveable. Rassa couldn't for the life of him understand why. Was it simply because he was a prisoner and Aegin was his captor? That didn't seem enough of a reason to garner this kind of consequence.
Rassa found himself leaning forward to cling onto the bars as he watched Aegin take the punishment. The chains holding him shifted, and the noise made everyone pause as they turned to look at Rassa.
The leader met Rassa's gaze with a glare.
Rassa did not glare back. He was not angry, nor sad, nor was he begging for the punishment to stop. Or begging for anything really. All that Rassa held in his dark eyes, was curiosity. But that seemed to scare the leader more than the other emotions combined. The leader turned away, looking down at where Aegin lay.
"Don't talk to it".
With that said, the carriage pulled forward once more. Rassa looked at Aegin as the boy pulled himself to his feet, then got back on top of the carriage without a hint of complaint. Whoever these people were, they certainly weren't normal. Nothing about this situation was normal.
Following his father's orders, Aegin did not attempt to converse with Rassa again. Every few nights he would get game and help Rassa out of the metal mask so that he could feed, but they did not speak as they once had. To Aegin's surprise, Rassa did not seem bothered by this change in attitude. He understood.
Aegin had broken the rules. Defied orders. And so he'd been punished for it. It was clear that Rassa didn't like those orders, but he understood that Aegin had to face the consequences anyway. So, instead of speaking, they kept a companionable silence with one another. When Aegin wasn't being ordered around, he stuck by the carriage, whether it was sitting on top of it or beside it. Rassa appreciated the company, even if it was only a presence.
Yet again, Rassa was drawn into a lesson with Victor. Alas, another day of political intrigue. But as Rassa settled down to watch the proceedings, something was said that perked his interest. The exact words, from a little known subcoven head who ruled on the outskirts of the Star Crash Coven's territory, were as follows, "Keltair are pushing on our borders more and more desperately. It appears the damn dogs can't keep to themselves".
Rassa had heard the name Keltair before, and assumed it was another subcoven that was little liked. But this...who exactly were they? As soon as he had a moment alone, he asked Victor.
"Ah, good, you picked up on it," Victor stated, "I wish the rest of us had been as attentive".
Rassa frowned, "Why, are they that important? I assumed they were a subcoven but dogs...how are they a threat to us?"
Victor smiled, and for a moment Rassa couldn't figure out why, then it clicked, Rassa was beginning to consider himself one of them. A Vampire. He'd said 'us'.
"To answer your question, little one," Victor stated affectionately, clearly in a good mood after hearing Rassa's changing attitude, "Vampires were not the only race to emerge from the Chaos. There were other...more beastly races that existed too. Keltair was not a subcoven, Keltair was a pack. A pack of one of the only races that was on par with us in terms of bloodlust, though for entirely different reasons".
"Dogs?" asked Rassa. It still did not sound all that threatening. Amazing that the only races Rassa had ever felt threatened by since the change, were those that took a humanoid form.
"Wolves to be more precise," Keltair admitted, "Their offical name, was Lycanthrope, though they were more commonly referred to as werewolves. Men who turned into beasts with the call of a full moon".