63 The Boy in his Tomb*
The answer to Aegin's burning question? Well, only someone with Life Lines could truly answer. You see, after the Doctor had grown bored with digging out bigger and bigger chunks of flesh and watching it heal, even lopping off an arm to watch it reattach as if it had never left, he decided to investigate something even more unique to his little test subject.
His black Life Lines. Did they heal as well as the rest of his flesh? Only one way to find out.
As anyone with Life Lines will tell you, even the act of someone seeing their Life Lines can unnerve the strongest of individuals. As the very essence of an individual's soul and connection to that other Mist-filled plane, touching it was considered taboo to anyone but a trusted companion or life partner. Rassa had neither.
So when Zaroth had approached his Life Lines with a scalpel, Rassa had drawn on a strength he didn't know he could. He'd fought viciously despite the chains that held him down, injuring the guards with his extended claws. Zaroth had not gotten his hands on the sample that day. And Rassa counted that as a small victory. Up until he realised it meant no more blood. Not until he consented.
Rassa would never yield when it came to his Life Lines, no sane person would.
Rather than a victory, it turned into a stale mate. Broken only when Rassa fell into the sub-death Victor had once spoken of.
Zaroth had panicked, and Rassa had drunk more than was necessary just to make sure he'd last longer this time. Why he thought that would matter he was unsure. But it did.
Still, Rassa had refused to cooperate, and his food was withheld once more. Rassa got hungrier and hungrier, and Victor's lessons grew too tiresome for the both of them in their weakened state.
Still, Victor agreed with Rassa on this front. Life Lines were not to be messed with. Scarring them would scar the soul with it, and that could have catastrophic consequences.
Pity the Doctor didn't feel the same way. He got his sample on the day Rassa slipped into the sub-death once more and was unable to do anything but take a burning, gasping breath every few minutes. The pain had been immense. So much worse than anything Rassa had experienced so far. Mostly because he didn't just feel it on his skin, he felt it in his soul. And the pain didn't stop, it continued.
It just kept going, unable to heal or even perceive the world outside the tomb his body had become in every sense of the word. And now, just to add to it all, there was a part of himself that seemed to be missing along with that section of his Life Lines. Rassa could feel the emptiness around it, but couldn't seem to recall what used to be there. Victor could not help him. He had long retreated in order to ensure Rassa's strength for longer. Not that it mattered now. He'd made it clear though. Rassa couldn't die from this. It was in eternal starvation. Rassa couldn't think how it was anything more than torture.
In Victor's last lesson before he retreated into the depths of Rassa's soul, he'd shown Rassa what such a state was used for originally.
Sometimes it was used to punish those who had broken high laws. Other times it was an unfortunate accident. But for those original few who claimed to be the Original Vampires, this state was nothing more than a way to pass their eternity. Sacred rituals would see them buried in their own secretive private tombs, only to reappear tens of thousands of years later after a sufficient blood sacrifice was paid. Rassa had asked why all Vampires didn't possess this ability. Victor had stated that they had, but it had long been decreed for 2 reasons that the average vampire, even the head of a coven, would not be allowed to undergo the process. The first reason was due to population control. Vampires may have had trouble conceiving but they had no trouble creating new bloodlines through The Turning. If all of those vampires became immortal, then eventually they would surpass their food source in terms of number. The second reason was one less spoken of but just as important. Only a few could live through eternity without becoming crazed by the passage of time itself.
So, at the end of that lesson, Rassa had asked a question he'd already known the answer to.
"Am I...like that too?"
Victor had given him an affirmative answer, "You must be. You are both the last of the old and the first of the new, there will never be any like you ever again. There was a reason you were chosen Rassa. Your soul, despite its youth, we could see its potential, its strength. It will have no problem staring down time itself, if only you allow it to. For time will not wait, and it will not be generous. One must earn what they desire, and if to earn it is not enough, then take it".
"Even if taking it means ensuring others don't get theirs?" asked Rassa.
"If they were not strong enough to hold on to it, did they really deserve it in the first place?" Victor had replied.
Those words had been his only company in the tomb of his body. Unlike when he was fully awake and he could tell exactly how much time passed thanks to his enhanced senses, in the sub-death state it was the complete opposite. There was no concept of time or even space where he was. It was both timeless and sudden, endless and enclosed all at the same time.
It gave Rassa plenty of things to think about, first and foremost being Victor's words to him.
Was he really strong enough? Was he really willing to take at the expense of others? The compassionate answer he knew he would have given originally became smaller and smaller, giving way to something far darker, and far more dominant.
If this is what I get for being compassionate, for not taking when I could have...I will not let opportunities slip past me anymore.
Considering I am going to live forever, perhaps it best I start embracing a new philosophy. Rassa chuckled to himself in the darkness. Oh how Victor would be proud.