The book had come in the post. There was no return address on it and no letter to indicate where it had come from, just a note that said “This will help.” He’d been tempted to throw it in the trash, but something stopped him. Maybe it was the heft of the book; or the gold leaf – real gold leaf – that decorated the embossed symbol.
No, he couldn’t throw it out because it looked like a Bible gone wrong, and the thought amused him. Why would anyone send him a Bible? He might be more moral than Damon, but still Stefan did not consider himself a good person, much less a religious one. But then he knew this couldn’t be the Bible.
The Bible didn’t have fangs.
And so, despite himself, he began to read. It only took reading through the first book to be disgusted. Humans as cattle? And this was supposed to bring him peace? With a huff of disgust he tossed the book onto a side table and headed out to the woods.
He needed to feed.
The air was brisk. Winter was approaching, but fall hadn’t been ready to give up quite yet. It was taking longer and longer to hunt, soon it would be time to turn to blood bags to see him through the spring.
The buck stood before him, alert, searching. He would have to make his move soon.
“Why do you disparage me?” a woman’s voice asked.
The buck bolted and he quickly spun around to see who had interrupted his hunt.
“Why do you disparage me? Why do I disgust you so?” the woman asked once more.
The woman had olive skin and sleek black hair that covered nothing. Yet there seemed to be nothing lurid about her display. It was as if this was her natural environmental. Only his rational mind knew that no one in their right mind would travel the woods this way.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“You know who I am, Stephan,” she replied. “Though diluted by the witches that brought forth your kind, My blood flows through your veins.”
He took a weary step closer, even though every instinct in him told him to take a step back.
“I’m a simpleton,” he said with the smile often used to try and belittle Damon. “So enlighten me.”
The mysterious woman smiled and began to walk, leading them away from the clearing they were in, and instead towards town.
“You are no fool,” she replied. “A child might be the better analogy.” Her voice echoed loudly in the woods and yet somehow didn’t disturb seem to disturb the other creatures that he could smell were nearby.
“You are a child pretending to be a big boy and yet shunning his very purpose on this planet. The little man afraid to grow up like he was meant to.”
He came to a dead stop.
“If you want me to follow you; you should really stop insulting me,” he said tightly, bristling as her words echoed in his head.
“You will follow,” she replied. Only now her voice seemed to embed itself in his body, tugging on his limbs like a puppeteer might the strings of a marionette.
His feet began to move despite the protest of his brain.
“You will follow because you must. You must accept your purpose in this world. As animals were put on the earth to be devoured by humans, so humans were put on the earth to be devoured by vampyr. Feeding on these lessor creatures is an insult to our very existence.”
“Humans don’t always eat meat. Why should I always eat humans?”
He could hear a car in the distance. They must be heading towards the road, but to what effect?
“Because they give us life as they destroy life around them.”
They made it to the edge of the clearing. He could spot a man fixing a broken flat.
“That man there. What purpose does he serve? He is not needed to continue the species. He does not contribute to its betterment in any way shape or form. What purpose does he serve here other than to be our meal?”
He opened his mouth to provide a rebuttal, but nothing would come out. The few answers he might have had never made it past his lips, because he knew they were weak.
“Precisely,” she said crisply. “They are here only to sustain us, God’s true children. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you will be at peace. The sooner you will be able to feed without rending your dinner limb from limb in your childish temper tantrum of guilt. And you will feed.”
He scoffed. He was in no mood to feed from humans. “No.”
A smile played on her lips.
He tried to turn himself around, but found himself frozen in place, although no longer moving it seemed they still refused his control.
Then he began to burn.
Smoke rose from his skin and then the pain began. He bit his lip before it became too much and he screamed in pain.
“I have tolerated the trinkets of your kind because ultimately those that wear them honor the purpose that God laid out for us. You do not. You are not worthy of it. Therefore you will no longer benefit it from it.”
A cruel smile played her lips.
“Feed. Feed by your choice, by that precious free will that you claim is so dear and your ring will work once more.”
The pain grew in its intensity and his screams filled the air. The human heard him, turned to him, ran towards him yelling in a panicked voice, “Oh God! Drop to the ground. Do something! Do anything!” as he approached.
And in a second he knew.
His fangs slipped into the man’s throat and in an instant the pain vanished, gone as quickly as it had come. He didn’t need to inspect his skin to know it was intact, healed faster than human blood would allow. He kept feeling. He fed until that last heart beat before a sip too far. He let go, he let go far easier than he had ever let go before. He let go when he could still easily glamor the man into forgetting the whole affair. This time it had been as natural to him as breathing was to a living creature.
“Satisfied?” he demanded.
“Satisfied about what?” Damon asked confused.
“Damon?” Stephan was even more confused as he was no longer by the road, but instead in the library, the book resting in his lap, an empty glass of blood at his side, a glass he did not remember drinking.
“Are you okay there little bro?” Damon sounded concerned as he picked up his bloodied glass and studied it. “Good for you. You’re a messy drinker though. Go clean yourself up,” he said as he set the glass back down. “And then we’re going for a drink and you’re going to tell me alllll about it.”
Damon left the room, presumably to allow him some privacy to clean up.
He set the book on the side table, next to the glass and stood. He stared at it for a long minute, debating what to do and trying to decipher what had happened. Feeling the dried blood upon his skin, he licked the blood off his the corner of his mouth instinct.
It was his.