Summary: Ilyra recounts her early memories of Arman’s house.
These characters, stories, and ideas are the original, copyrighted work of Nicole Sharp and are protected under a Creative Commons License.
I still remember the shouts and cries I heard when they found him. I’d been readying myself for bed, just the on the verge of pulling back my covers, in fact, when I heard a scream that was undoubtedly from another child. I found them out in the courtyard, gathered about my father. Everyone was talking at once, it seemed, and all I could decipher as I pushed my way through the adults was that there was a human here and we should kill it, lest it reveal our location to others.
Just as I caught a glimpse of a fair-headed village boy crumpled near the wall, someone kicked at him, and he cried out again. For an instant, I saw his face—what was Terryn doing here? I shoved my way into the middle and yelled for them to quit hurting him.
“Do you know this boy?” Arman asked me as the group quieted.
“He’s from my village.”
“Then you led him here, creep,” Galren snarled at me. He stepped toward me, hand raised as if he would strike, but Arman caught his wrist and jerked his arm behind his head in one swift motion.
“Touch her and you can die along with the boy,” Arman hissed before shoving the other Vampyr back into the crowd.
“Don’t kill him, Papa!” I cried, tugging at Arman’s hand. “He probably didn’t know any better.”
“I can’t just let him leave, Ilyra. He could lead others here.”
“But if he swears not to? There’d be no reason to kill him then,” I insisted. What possessed me to argue on Terryn’s behalf, I’ll never know. Of all the village boys, he was perhaps the worst to me, but something in me prompted the argument.
“We can’t be certain that he wouldn’t, Ilyra.”
“An oath means as much to them as it does to us! If he’ll swear it, why shouldn’t you believe him?”
“Because he’s a human,” someone in the crowd said. A ripple of laughter went through the group.
“Papa, please. Let him go. For me?”
My father’s eyes were hard and unyielding for a long moment. I thought I saw a flicker of light in them, and then his expression softened. “If he will swear,” Arman whispered.
With a grin of delight, I turned to Terryn and started to help him to his feet. As soon as he had his balance, however, I suddenly found his arm firmly round my neck. A cold blade of steel scraped at my throat. I tried to speak, to explain to him in his language that he could go free, but the knife bit closer. In that instant, I saw true fury in my father’s eyes, and, as much as it shames me to admit it, I felt that same fury myself.
What happened next I still cannot say. In my memory, it’s as though I blacked out, though I know well enough that I did not faint. What I did exactly, I can only surmise from the reports of those that were there and from the results of my actions. There are a few things of which we can be certain. Firstly, Terryn died. Secondly, I was the one to kill him. Thirdly, I enjoyed killing him.
My next memory of that night was kneeling over Terryn’s lifeless body. Red was smeared across his face and throat, though it was nothing compared to the blood that covered me. His blood was all over my shirt, streaking my arms and hands, sticking in my hair, smeared across my forehead, dripping from my chin, collecting on my lips. The metallic tang of it filled my mouth, and it was glorious. I licked my lips, savoring the sweet taste on the edge of my tongue. Raising my hands to see the blood running over them, I laughed aloud as my mind tore me sickeningly in half.
This was the most wonderful sensation of my life, and at the same time, I was horrified. Even as I saw Terryn’s body and my own blood-covered self from my eyes, I saw myself from outside and I was disgusted. I heard my mother’s voice in my mind; I heard my own conscience berate me for such lack of self-control. And I felt another part of myself try to shrug that voice away, to ignore it in favor of this joy.
A violent shudder went through me and I doubled over, emptying my stomach into the grass. Even as the stinging eased in my throat, my vision blurred with tears, and I cried myself into sudden unconsciousness.