Chapter One, Part 3

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Peace, sweet peace, and rest followed.

The light of day arrived, chasing the night away. On the fourth day, we awoke to profound changes in our physical form. Hearts that had slowed and stopped drummed fiercely in our chests. We possessed the ability to vary internal temperature and metabolic rate, like cold-blooded organisms. Respiration could be controlled, breathing stopped and started on command. Our bodies no longer sought food to alleviate hunger. Blood is what we needed. With no other options, we offered our wrists to one another.

Concurrent with the physical transformation, we had a new way of communicating. Our minds could unite telepathically. Thoughts and emotions could be shared and heard by all. In moments of heightened anxiety, we transmitted our distress like a powerful antenna, making it difficult to hide.

We talked about the changes in our bodies. It was unimaginable for us to think we might become evil creatures like Erdo. As much as we hated the idea, one thing was sure: we were vampires now. Our lives were forever altered. We required the blood of others to exist.

How were we to survive? Ignorant of this new life and fearful of the future, we stayed in the cellar until the situation demanded we venture back out into the world. As fully transformed vampires, we now felt the harmful effects of the vampire venom when we shared our blood. We tried to feed less frequently as the toxicity increased, but the hunger became too powerful. Sharing no longer became an option for us and on New Year's Day, 1909, we walked out of the hole. Packing what we could carry from the house, we left New York to find a new way of living.

***

The veil of our memories began to lift. It was Paris, 2008. We were back in the blood star. Having broken through from the past, we removed our hoods.

"Prepared in mind and spirit, with powers united, accept our offering. As it was 100 years ago, I give you blood of my blood. I am one with you, and you are one with me," I intoned, offering my wrists to Lizzie and Terra.

Terra looked at me hungrily, a low animal rumble emanated from her throat, like a tiger toying with its prey. Lizzie, coy and innocent, purred smoothly masking the danger and fierceness of her appetite. Drawing back their heads, they arched their necks. Knife-sharp teeth elongated over their lips, and spittle ran down their fangs as they salivated. Holding my wrists, they sank their teeth into me and drank eagerly.

Intense burning traveled along my arms. My head whipped back, stung by the poison. They had become formidable vampires over the last hundred years, and their bite was deadly. As they drank, I grew weak, and my heart slowed. Paralysis set in. Frozen, I could not stop them if I wanted. As they were about to drain the last drops of blood from my veins, Ethan pulled them off. They turned on him, screeching like angry animals. Ethan returned a loud roar and stared them down until they regained control of themselves.

Then Lizzie turned to me. Baring her fangs, she tore the skin across her wrist and offered it. I watched the mouthwatering scarlet ribbon run down her arm. Starving, I yearned for its warmth. Tormented with desire, every ounce of my being screamed at her to satisfy my thirst. Unable to move or aid myself, Lizzie brought her lifesaving blood to my lips. With a ferocious appetite, I drank. The taste of her blood was intoxicating; one could lose oneself in it. Sweet and vibrant, it was hard to stop. When I saw the flush begin to leave Lizzie's cheeks and the ash white call of death, I pulled myself away.

When my strength returned, Terra offered her wrist to Ethan. I stood cautious and ready for them because I, the alpha, was the only one who could control Ethan if he chose to linger too long. Terra's blood was robust and pure, enhanced with the life force from the abundant supply and variety of animals she had fed on in Africa. Ethan accepted her gift silently, without threat, and latched onto her wrist. I watched his face for signs of weakness. Discipline was a trait he had learned well, and while I stood guard, ready for battle, it was unnecessary for me to intervene. Ethan made no attempt to drain Terra.

Once he finished, he offered his wrists to Terra and Lizzie. Having had their thirsts satiated at the first offering, they accepted his blood but found no need to indulge. Fortified, he endured the agony of their bite without faltering.

Having her fill, Lizzie smiled and offered her wrist to Ethan. He growled at her, deep and fierce to register his displeasure. She had felt compelled to make the offer, though it was a long established fact he would not accept it.

"On this night 100 years ago, an ancient evil befell us, stealing our lives and leaving us to wander this earth in the land between the living and the dead. We ask the Almighty Father in heaven to cleanse our soul of this evil curse."

"Cleanse our soul. Cleanse our soul. Cleanse our soul," we intoned in one voice.

"With this washing of water we ask for your forgiveness for the unthinkable deeds we have committed, and pray for your mercy. Grant us peace."

"Forgive our sins. Lord have mercy. Grant us peace."

Dipping our hands into the pool, we began to wash the blood off our wrists. When the final stains wiped away, the beam of light began to dim, replaced by a rush of air. The wind began to swirl and howl through the room, whirling faster until a vortex spun into the heavens. The spirits screamed and reeled around the room in frenzied flight. Extending our arms, we laid our wrists one over the other, forming a star. The cyclone sucked the frantic spirits into the current and carried them away. When the last one disappeared, the air reversed direction. A powerful blast washed over us, extinguishing the votive candles, and blanketing the room in darkness. When the air finally stilled, the room was dark and silent. Glowing subtly, we bowed our heads.

"Ite, est. Deo gratias," I whispered.

"It is over. Thanks be to God," was the return.

Weakened and yet strengthened we left the ceremony, and retired to our rooms.

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