67 The Lesson of the Sanguine*
For over a year, Rassa's lessons with Victor had consisted mostly of historical background and politics. Rassa had learned to see the importance in them, the lessons that could be learned from them, but there were many subjects that had only been touched on that Rassa was far more interested in. While originally the idea had been unsettling to him, the Sanguine were a growing topic of interest to Rassa.
After all, it seemed far more convenient to have your meal walk around with you than to have to hunt for it, or in Rassa's case, wait until your captor felt benevolent enough to feed you. To put it in human terms, it'd be like having a cart full of food follow you wherever you went and replenish itself when its basic needs were met. He had contemplated marking one of the slaves as his Sanguine, but Victor advised against it.
"The obligatory loyalty that comes with the contract will become instinctual for the Sanguine. If you are starving, they will be put in danger with their need to fulfil your needs," Victor explained, "They'd get themselves killed trying to please you".
Rassa had questioned why Victor cared about such a thing at first, but the contract wasn't one-way. With the Sanguine's promise to provide nourishment, there was also the Vampire's obligation to provide protection. Rassa couldn't very well do that from his cell. Still, it didn't diminish Rassa's interest in the topic.
So Victor conceded to setting aside a lesson on the Sanguine contract. He would need to do so eventually anyway.
The contract itself was just an instinct. The verbal consent of the Sanguine to enter into a contract was a formality of more sophisticated times. Also, the contract required a connection to the Vampire's Life Lines, so at its core, it was a magic contract. Rassa witnessed Victor as he formed a contract with whom Rassa had determined to be one of his more favoured Sanguine, Alessa. She was a kind and quiet girl, and while many Vampires entered into sexual relationships with their Sanguine, Victor never did so with Alessa. Instead, he preferred her company in small talk and when he needed some quiet time. She never seemed annoyed at his lack of attention in the bedroom, in fact, she seemed to prefer to be outside of it. Though Rassa could never presume to know the innermost thoughts of a woman, he suspected that Alessa knew that a sexual relationship was only skin deep, Victor got bored with those he bedded faster than those he just kept around for company.
The contract was not signed on paper as with others, this contract was like an extension of Victor's Life Lines. During a feeding, a mark of Victor's choosing, usually a flower of some kind, appeared on a part of the Sanguine's skin. In Alessa's case, it was on the back of her left hand. The same mark would appear on Victor's body in the same spot, and this signified the contract's completion, as well as the length of time the contract was to be in place. In Victor's case, the number of petals signified the number of years he expected his Sanguine to be in service to him, and of course the number of years he had promised to care for them. In Alessa's case, her lily had ten petals upon its initial appearance. Ten years.
When the contract was done, Victor iterated some of the benefits that had not previously been mentioned whilst Alessa slept off the affects of gaining the mark.
"The contract allows for a constant connection, meaning that the Sanguine always knows the location of their Master, and vice versa. As I have implied before, the Sanguine is able to sense when their Master is hungry, and prepares to readily offer blood. In the case of there being more than one Sanguine serving the same Master, the Sanguine who is healthiest receives the instinctual sense to allow their Master to feed, and the others feel nothing. It is quite common for younger vampires to have multiple Sanguine as they have not yet learned how to better control their appetite. Those who can afford it also indulge in more than one as having a range of healthy Sanguine can show wealth and status," Victor explained.
"So they're not only a necessary commodity, they're considered a luxury item as well?" asked Rassa. The tone of disgust he would have previously adopted had become one of pure curiosity.
"Precisely," Victor confirmed, "Another benefit is that Sanguine under contract are incapable of procreating".
Rassa frowned, "Why is that a benefit? Wouldn't allowing them to have children increase their number?"
"After they have completed their contract they are more than welcome to stay amongst others like themselves under Vampire protection and produce offspring that could potentially serve the same purpose, but the reason why Sanguine are incapable of procreating under contract, is because they are often sexually active with their masters," Victor continued, "And the result of that is not a desireable outcome".
"What? A half-vampire half-human child isn't viable?" asked Rassa.
"Dhampir, we call them Dhampir," Victor said, though his tone was darker than before, "They aren't like either race though. Dhampir are almost impossible to reason with. All the abilities of a mature Vampire in a mortal body. It makes for various ugly scenarios".
"So they are what? Prone to slaughter?" asked Rassa.
"To put it mildly," Victor stated, "The Dhampir have a rapid growth from birth. The Life Lines of a Dhampir attempt to compensate for the amount of power stored within a mortal body by maturing the body faster than normal. Dhampirs have been observed to reach adult maturity in less than ten years after birth. This rapid growth however is not translated into some parts of the brain, such as emotional and social development, and hence they become physically powerful but mentally immature. Besides this, there have been no Dhampir that ever lived beyond the age of twenty. Their Life Lines are simply too much for their bodies to cope with. We had many Dhampir in the past as it is far easier to get a human pregnant than another Vampire, but seeing the results end in unreasonable slaughter and power-grabs from immature yet powerful individuals, the existence of the Dhampir was outlawed. The punishment was death for the Dhampir and both of the parents, so it was incentive for most to avoid such a result".
"What if one were to change a Dhampir into a full Vampire? Would that solve the problems?" asked Rassa.
"It has been attempted before, and while it extends the life of the Dhampir, the damage mentally is already permanent. It was akin to giving a madman every tool he needs to survive longer," Victor sighed.
Rassa was silent after this, "My only choice is for others to become like me then..."
"You will have to turn them. They will become your coven, and it will be your responsibility to teach them and shape their behaviour," Victor stated.
That seemed like far too much responsibility for a fourteen year old. Much less a fourteen year old who was destined to spend most of his fledgling life in an Anthrite Cell in the depths of a Prison Mine. Rassa couldn't help but feel thankful that Victor was giving him these lessons, no doubt if another like himself faced this same situation, they would go insane.