“You want me to what?” asked Ariadne.
“To drink! You’re hungry, auntie.” replied Aaliyah, grinning at her.
“I really don’t mind.” stated Portentia. “However you like to feed is fine by me.”
Ariadne still looked hesitant but said, “I can help you recover afterward, but don’t let any other vampire feed on you for a while once I do.”
Portentia laughed and told her “There’s really no need. Cosette feeds on me regularly. I have an unlimited supply.”
Cosette was staring in awe at Ariadne. Aaliyah let Ariadne’s age “slip” when she introduced her, and I understood Cosette’s feeling to some degree. The things a person would see in over two thousand years would be amazing. With vampires growing stronger as they aged, Ariadne had to be physically remarkable as well.
Sighing, Ariadne said, “That, my dear, is not something you should put to the test. I’ve seen plenty of creatures over the years that can recover quickly. Many of them were quick to overreach. I suggest you don’t do the same.”
“I’ve been shot, stabbed, burned, blown up, and dismembered, multiple times for most of those. They barely slowed me down for a second.” explained Portentia.
Ariadne looked dubious. “Might I examine you?” she asked.
Ariadne stepped closer to her and touched her for a moment, pulling her hand away and staring in disbelief just after. Then she rested her hand on Portentia’s cheek for a long while.
“What’s she doing?” inquired Cosette.
“Auntie’s the best medical doctor you’ll ever know. She uses numerous types of magic in place of the x-rays, blood tests, et cetera employed by conventional doctors.” explained Aaliyah. “She’s healed vastly more people than anyone else on the planet.”
“What are you?” asked Ariadne, sounding mystified.
Portentia shrugged and said, “Superhero.”
Nodding, Ariadne told her “Yes, I can imagine that you could be, but I was more curious about your species. I’ve never encountered anything like you before.”
I moved to defend myself as something rushed toward me, but I was far too slow. Raine was hugging me and visibly shaking.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” she muttered on the verge of tears.
“Master, I’ve been trying to explain what I am to her, but she seems to believe she did something wrong.” stated Mila.
Raine jumped at the sound of Mila’s voice and seemed to be trying to hide behind me.
“Huh?” I asked.
“Y-your c-comp…. c-computer. I-I br-broke it.” claimed Raine.
I laughed. “No. Mila’s back is all. I mentioned her when I gave you the tour.”
Raine seemed unconvinced, shrinking into a kitten as she cringed down farther. I only noticed after that Alma looked annoyed with her.
“Well, your office probably appeared damaged to her, master, but all is in order.” insisted Mila.
Raine was looking from Alma to Mila in obvious confusion.
“Come, little one. Don’t be frightened.” whispered Ariadne in a gentle tone.
Raine crawled out of her clothes and back around my leg, staring at Ariadne’s outstretched hand, or maybe at her face. I couldn’t really tell given the angles. The face might make even more sense, given the resemblance to Aaliyah.
“One of the most dangerous creatures on the planet, and all she wants to do is hide.” muttered Alma.
“You know why.” I told her.
“Yes, but Ariadne has no clue what’s in front of her.” replied Alma.
Ariadne calmly said, “Different and dangerous aren’t always the same, despite what the Slayers have taught you, child.”
“Hmph.” sniffed Alma.
Tentatively petting Raine’s head, Ariadne said, “There is great power in you, little one, but don’t be afraid. Some believe my kind to be touched by the angels.”
“Who relates vampires to angels?” asked Cosette, sounding intrigued.
“Not vampires, my dear. A type of fey, practically extinct.” explained Ariadne, light radiating off her. The bright green glow from her eyes was mesmerizing.
Raine hissed and hid behind me. Portentia and Cosette looked absolutely amazed. Brandon, Brenna, and Emma, however, weren’t impressed. I had to admit that she did look rather angelic, but I was certain I could pull off a similar trick, albeit without the residual energy pouring out. I felt concern coming from the little fairy. An image appeared in my head of Ariadne standing in a grove of trees, wearing clothes far out of date. She was healing a man, probably one of the fey, but her skin appeared to blister as she did. Her face contorted in agony, but her hands never left the man till his wounds were gone. Then she collapsed.
Still reaching toward Raine, Ariadne smiled up at the fairy, and I felt a calmness, a joy, replacing the fairy’s image. Then I saw images of the man dancing through the forest. He seemed so full of life. Though his dance was obviously spontaneous, there was tremendous beauty in the graceful way he moved.
The image was replaced again. The man was dead, cut open on the ground, and I felt the sadness of the fairy. Then I felt a surge of emotions and a sense of connectedness, like I was connected to all of the fey in a somewhat vague manner. This was the first time Aaliyah called to them. I was certain. The landscape suddenly changed, and I recognized my forest. How could the trees look nearly the same? Did they not age? I was quite sure the fey had been there for a considerable number of years. The image moved onward, and I felt Ariadne’s absence as well as others I didn’t recognize. The feeling diminished swiftly as the fey gazed at Death.
Raine was rubbing against my leg.
“Are you okay, man-slave?” asked Emma.
“You didn’t see that?” I inquired.
Shaking her head, she looked confused. The others did as well, except Ariadne. Aaliyah’s confusion was laughable, considering she had been there.
“I thought you had grown accustomed to communicating with the fey while doing other things.” stated Alma.
Laughing, I said, “That doesn’t mean they can’t surprise me.” Then I reached down and patted Raine, telling her “Ariadne won’t hurt you. Neither will Mila.”
Raine pressed into my hand, rubbing her head against my palm.
“You really should feed if you’re hungry.” stated Portentia. “Want to go in another room?”
Ariadne sighed, saying, “Fine. Let’s get this over with.”
As the two walked away, Brandon said, “Is that really as big as Aaliyah’s family gets? They’re all so tiny.”
“What do you mean? She’s tall!” exclaimed Aaliyah.
“I believe she became a vampire at a young age.” stated Cosette. “At least, I’m guessing she wasn’t born as one.”
“I think she’s really cute. I know I won’t look that good in two thousand years.” claimed Brenna.
“She totally is. Besides, she can appear however she wants. Maybe she just enjoys looking like a kid.” suggested Emma.
“I think not. She injures herself whenever she heals someone, so I doubt she’d use extra energy to alter her appearance.” I told them.
Ai and Mai looked at me questioningly and then to one another.
“Isn’t auntie simply amazing?” asked Aaliyah, grinning and staring off to where her aunt had gone.
I was about to agree, but became somewhat startled when a bright glow illuminated the doorway where Portentia and Ariadne were. A lively melody started playing, and I felt magic surging in the room. What was happening?