64 The Tomb“s Embrace*
Seeing Rassa in the state he was in was truly a highlight of how little Aegin knew about his somewhat ally. Is that what they were? Allies? Aegin didn't feel like they were close enough to be called acquaintances, let alone friends. Allies was the best that Aegin could come up with. Yet he didn't think allies sold each other out to the enemy. It was complicated, and in all honesty, Aegin wasn't sure why he cared as much as he did. What he did know was that he felt a connection with Rassa, one that he'd never had with anyone else before. One that had led them on their short journey together to an understanding.
Still, regardless of their relationship, or whatever understanding they had...seeing Rassa in that state that appeared to be like something worse than death. To know that he had been put into it forcefully by someone who had no concern for his well-being other than to keep him alive. It made Aegin angry. Very angry.
When the doctor made to leave, Aegin wasn't entirely positive what possessed him. It was instinctual. He drew his blade and placed it at the nearest guard's throat, then his sliced it across, and shoved the guard at Rassa.
It happened so fast that no one knew quite how to react. Then, as the blood hit Rassa's decaying body, and fell into his open mouth, Zaroth growled his anger.
The Doctor turned on Aegin, but Aegin merely glared back at the Doctor, "You were hired to study him, not to torture him. You will feed him as much as he requires or I will do it for you. The difference being, I don't much care where the blood comes from. Even if I have to sacrifice you in the process. I can't say it'd be much of a loss".
"The Duke hired me to-"
"The Duke is not here, and I very much doubt he would deign to come to a place as forsaken as Jerrica," Aegin replied, "Not again anyway".
The audible sound of Rassa's skin, muscles, organs and bones repairing themselves as the blood nourished him cut through the darkness.
From his tomb, Rassa felt the taste of blood, the one thing that could bring him out, and he grabbed onto it readily. He knew it was likely he would be sent right back to the depths of his soul as soon as possible, but until then, he much preferred the world outside. His eyes opened, and as he drank, he struggled to think of little else but quenching his thirst. It wasn't until there wasn't a drop of blood left to drink that Rassa acknolwedged it was the body of a guard and not a slave. As he attempted to throw off the oaf whilst still chained to the cot, he caught sight of the assassin boy he'd met previously. Aegin was glaring at Zaroth, and the doctor was glaring back.
"Now, are you going to get a slave, or am I going to have to slice another throat?" asked Aegin.
Zaroth looked at the guards who were backing out of the line of fire. After a moment's hesitation where he looked towards the still healing Rassa, Zaroth snapped outloud as he left the cell.
"Get some slaves down here!"
The guards filed out, Aegin ordering one of them to leave a torch behind. As Aegin put the torch into a holder on the wall, he looked back to find Rassa staring at him with a confused expression. The boy's voice was incredibly raspy as he spoke, "What are you doing here?"
He coughed afterwards, taking deep breaths as the last of the skin that Aegin could see healed.
Aegin sighed, "I've been instructed to report on the Doctor's progress. This...your state...was not what I had in mind".
Rassa chuckled, lying back down to stare at the roof of the cell, "I think the only one who really desired it was Zaroth, and that's hardly surprising considering his particular calibur".
"I..." Aegin didn't know how to start, then decided it didn't really matter how he said it, "I'm sorry I couldn't do anything to-"
"Nobody can," Rassa interrupted, "Nobody can save me from this, Aegin. And nobody should have to. I'm not like anybody else, nobody has ever had any real attachment to me being like this. Being a Vampire..."
Rassa trailed off, and Aegin couldn't help but stare at Rassa in confusion. Something had changed. He seemed...Aegin didn't know how to define it. It was still the Rassa that he'd met but he somehow seemed older. Less...optimistic. That was probably a good thing for someone in his situation.
"Glad you're alive".
Not okay. Just alive. Rassa probably would have laughed if Aegin had said he was okay. He was not okay, not in the least bit. But he was alive.
"How long was I...How long was I in the sub-death?" asked Rassa.
"Zaroth said two weeks," Aegin replied, "Winter's coming, I can feel the chill in the air outside".
Rassa gave a look to Aegin, one that Aegin couldn't quite decipher, but with Rassa's next words, Aegin suddenly understood. It was a form of gratitude.
"What else is happening out there?"
Aegin obliged him.
Rassa didn't really seem overly interested in things like political turmoil or trade secrets, but Aegin told him what he knew. Rassa seemed to appreciate the menial things more. Like how the piles of orange leaves had begun to rot as the rain began to fall and soak the ground. How the birds had begun to fly south towards the Southern Isles and beyond. How the stars had moved. He rarely asked questions, just listened. When Rassa heard someone approaching, he held up a hand to Aegin. It was another minute before Aegin heard the footsteps too, becoming aware of the height of Rassa's senses. They were far superior to his own.
Zaroth did not return with the slaves. They just came with the guards who loosened Rassa's chains enough for him to sit up and feed. Aegin watched as one slave dropped after another. There was no care for them in Rassa's eyes, just the need to be satisfied.
Out of the corner of his eyes, Rassa noticed Aegin's figure. There was no malice, no disgust in his gaze. Just that understanding that had always been there. As the last of the slaves dropped, pale and empty to the ground, Rassa wiped his mouth, licking the last of the blood off his hand.
Aegin pushed off the wall to the side as the guards picked up the bodies and took them out, "All going well, I'll be back every few months. Try not to die between my visits. When you're not hungry your rather good company".
Rassa grinned as his fangs retracted back into his gums, "I guess you aren't so bad either, little assassin".
"Assassin?" Aegin scoffed, "I suppose I am...though I'm used to being known as a man of the Ridge".
Aegin grinned back, turning and exiting the cell.
He didn't notice it as Rassa's grin dropped, a sudden realisation forming in his mind, the peices clicking into place. His eyes turned angry. The last thing he wanted was to serve the interests of that monster of a man.