251 The Path of Gluttony*
Aegin had drained three of them by the time he learned what the difference between full and satiated meant. He could have stopped shortly after prisoner 2, but it had tasted so good, been so addictive that he'd continued until he was looking at a third pale and dead body in confusion. He'd looked up at four and five, catching a glimpse of Rassa as he remembered the words he'd spoken moments before.
Right. He understood the danger now. If he fell pray to his own hunger, there was no telling the decimation he could cause.
He asked to be alone after that, but requested that he and Rassa talk more later. Ebony looked reluctant to leave him, but Rassa dragged her out.
Aegin spent the day in his room getting used to his new senses. He quickly understood why Rassa always wore a hood during the day. The sunlight was near painful on his eyes. He was faster and stronger too.
The servants drew a bath for him, though he stayed well away from them as they did so, fearful that he'd hurt them unintentionally. They all seemed rather passive though, a similar look in their eyes that the prisoners had had. Was that the compulsion or allure thing that Rassa had done to his victims previously? When he'd gotten into their heads to make them forget? What had he done this time?
Could Aegin do that too?
Out of curiosity, he looked the servant in the eyes and asked if he could have some new clothes. But the servant just nodded and walked off, Aegin didn't feel anything. Did it work or not? Perhaps he should try it on someone who wasn't already under an allure to follow orders.
He bathed, and it was the first time he got a glimpse of his Life Lines
He knew from seeing Rassa at Jerrica that his Life Lines covered his entire back, Aegin's were smaller. They went across his upper back and curled over his shoulders and upper arms, but they were no where near as elaborate as Rassa's. Aegin found he could read them, but it was mostly unclear. It was like a blank piece of paper. Aegin wasn't sure what that meant, and looking at them made him feel a little unsettled, like he was looking at his very soul. It was intimate yet terrifying, and all around weird.
He bathed as thoroughly as he wanted then dressed to cover them.
It was close to evening when Rassa returned, and Aegin, having stewed in his thoughts all day waited for him on the balcony looking out over the ocean.
"Why?" asked Aegin in the silence between them as Rassa joined him, "You disappear for over two years, during which I think you're dead not just in that sub-death thing but actually dead. I have to survive in the Warrior's Arena for not just my sake but so that Ebony isn't raped by any and every client of the Master's. Then, just as we're about to escape, you're suddenly alive again, and to top it all off the first thing you do when you see me and realise I'm dying is turn me into a monster? Did you seriously think that was okay? That I'd be grateful for it?"
Rassa said nothing, but it seemed he knew that Aegin wasn't finished.
"I didn't want any of this, Rassa," said Aegin, "I just wanted to be free, to have a chance to discover who I was without someone else's influence, yet now I will never have a chance to know who that man was, not when my entire existence now evolves around the next drop of blood I can drink".
Rassa remained silent as he watched Aegin, then Aegin stepped forward and punched Rassa right in the cheek.
Rassa took the hit, his body healing the damage quickly enough that it enraged Aegin who moved forward and pinned Rassa, punching him again and again. Rassa didn't fight back though, and that seemed to enrage Aegin even more. He roared in anger as he continued to hit Rassa, then a surprised scream came from behind them.
"Aegin!" screamed Ebony, "What are you doing!"
Aegin paused, looking over his shoulder at Ebony, who was staring at him in shock and horror. Then he turned back to Rassa.
"See, she has never looked at me like that before. I am nothing like I was anymore," Aegin said, his voice hitching at the end as he slumped to the side. Rassa sighed, sitting up as this skin and muscles healed. He turned to look at Aegin.
"For a long time, I believed the exact same thing," said Rassa, "It took two and a half years of living in a dream of the life I thought I wanted for me to realise that no matter what or who I was before and what and who I am now, I am still me. And I'm the only one who gets to dictate what that means. I realise that this change is sudden, and you clearly resent me for it, but I am not going to apologise. Wherever your path leads you Aegin, you should never apologise for what and who you are nor the selfish decisions you make because of it".
Rassa stood then, offering a hand to Aegin. Aegin stared it for a moment, then knocked the hand aside and stood himself, "You apologised before".
"I did, because you were human and humans tend to prefer such words," said Rassa, "You are not human anymore".
"No, I'm not, because you made the decision for me," Aegin snapped, pointing an accusing finger at Rassa, "You made a decision for me when I thought you were the only one who would ever allow me to make them for myself. You taught me to question the world. To question what was right or wrong rather than blindly follow, to decide my own path, then you went and decided it for me".
Rassa nodded, "If that is how you see it then it is unlikely anything that I say will fix whatever enmities you have against me. I sense you are not comfortable here, so go, Aegin. Make that decision for yourself. I'll only tell you this, the hungrier you get, the more dangerous it will be, so feed regularly in small amounts. In addition, you will not have full access to your abilities for some time, the seal is there for you to grow accustomed to your new power and senses. You will know when it is time for it to fade, and when it is, you must speak the oath to Chaos and believe it. It will not fade completely until you do".
"Wait," said Ebony as she stepped forward, "You're just sending him away? But we just met each other together again. We can't leave things like this. We said we'd be a family."
Aegin didn't look at Ebony as he spoke, only continued to glare at Rassa, "I will not remain in a family that does not take my thoughts and desires into consideration".
Then Aegin turned and leaped onto the balcony before jumping off, Ebony's scream following after him.
"Aegin!" she called desperately, "Aegin, wait! Aegin!"
But he didn't come back. Not as she waited there, her cries dissolving into sobs as she sunk to the ground. She turned to Rassa, "You have to go and get him. You have to bring him back!"
"I don't," said Rassa, "I don't have to do anything, and neither does he. It is his decision, Ebony. He is right".
Ebony moved towards Rassa, "Please! Please bring him back!"
Rassa sighed, then squatted down to Ebony as he took her Tracking Charm out of her pocket and put it in her hand.
"Then tell me where he went," said Rassa.
Ebony frowned. Didn't Rassa have his own charm? Still, she willed it to activate, looking for the line that led to Aegin.
Only it wasn't there. She looked at Rassa in confusion.
"What, but...he's not dead, why isn't his line here?" asked Ebony.
"I told you that it would no longer work if the essence of one's blood changed," said Rassa, "Even if I wanted to find him, I cannot".
Ebony dissolved into sobs, clutching the tracking charm hard as she turned away from Rassa.
Rassa stood and went to walk out.
"I don't understand," said Ebony, "I don't understand what he's going through, what you're going through".
"You're human," replied Rassa, "You're still unattached to either Order or Chaos".
"So change me," said Ebony.
Rassa frowned, turning to look at Ebony, "That is not a light decision for one to make".
Ebony stood, eyes hard, "You changed him without permission, why not me?"
Rassa sighed, she was right, but Aegin had been dying. She wasn't.
"It is painful. So painful that you will want to die," said Rassa, "And when you are reborn you will never be the same again".
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Ebony opened her mouth to reply, to confirm she was okay with that, but then closed it again. Aegin hadn't been okay with it. What was it that changed? The drinking of blood? Somehow she knew it wasn't quite as simple as that.
"We'll stay here for three days whilst I organise my plans. If after those three days, you still want it, I will change you, but if you are making the decision yourself, do not make it lightly," said Rassa.
Then he turned and left her to her thoughts.