It’s amazing what you can do with the blood. Things I never even imagined. I did meet a vampire once who could light candles by his will, but I never saw anybody put one out before, at least, not in the manner of a cowboy showman. There’s always something more to learn.
Maric summoned me to his inner sanctum, this time uninterrupted by my favourite Cait. I managed to find my way there with only a couple of wrong turnings in the maze below the castle. It was time, he said, to teach me a few more things that I could do with the blood powers. He asked if I had any questions, which of course I did, but I asked if he could maybe teach me the way he would a fledgling, albeit without having to take baby steps and being repeated over and over again. Then, maybe, I could ask sensible questions, instead of what I had at the moment, which were basically who, what, why, when and how.
He agreed that this was probably the best way. He would have preferred a more well-paced approach, but time was not a luxury we had. He faced me, looking into my eyes, putting himself on rapport with me, so that I could sense what he was doing. I felt him concentrate his will on the blood and suddenly, I felt, well, I don’t really know, incredibly strong and powerful, as if almost nothing could harm me – all the strength and stamina I had felt when I fought the sea-creature, but many times more so. It was brief and I could tell that it drained him doing it, much in the same way that I would feel tired and then hungry after I had been doing hard physical work. He warned me that I should be careful, as this knowledge could be dangerous in the wrong hands.
He then demonstrated another trick. He flicked his wrist in the direction of one of the candles on the table, and as he did so, a red tendril extended from his fingertip, like a red whip, and snuffed out the candle flame. I was impressed. I had seen a supposed cowboy doing tricks with a whip at a Wild West Show once, but this was a new one. Since I was still linked, I could feel the ‘muscles’ being used and decided to try it for myself. I looked at my own hand, tried to imagine the same sequence of movements, and the same effort of will. I could feel him there, beside me, guiding me, much in the same way as I remember Father standing behind me, showing me how to hold a cricket bat and make a forward defensive stroke. To my immense surprise, and even greater satisfaction, I managed to replicate the trick, albeit with some help. “That’s one hell of a party trick,” I said, adding that it was probably one I should only perform in select company, for fear of alarming people.
He laughed, complimenting me as a natural. As well as being pleased, I could feel the trust he was placing in me by sharing this knowledge. This was not something he gave lightly. I could also tell there was hunger there. Tightly controlled, but it was nevertheless there. He had been exerting himself somewhat of late, and I guessed there were a limited number of people he could call upon to feed.
And talking of feeding, he then surprised me by telling me that he would need to train me in the ways that the blood could be used on those who had fed from it, and that could only be achieved by him feeding from me. I was confused for a moment, but then realised that the ability to commune mentally and to know where I was only worked as a result of me feeding from him. So it made sense that some powers would only work if he fed from me. I realised that nobody had fed from me since my embrace (save for Aoibheann’s accidental bite), so had always wondered what it was like. I told him this and offered the wrist.
He took it and told me that things were somewhat trickier in my case, since I was a vampire with a beating heart as a result of my lady friend’s gifts, so he was not too sure how things would work, as it was something he had never encountered before. While he was tempted to see if he could do the same, he was unwilling to take the risk. I suppose that when you get to his age, you get somewhat more protective of yourself. I reminded him that the heartbeat came from Isabella, and Gwyn kept it topped up, so to speak, but I didn’t have time to say more when he struck.
I cannot begin to describe the sensation of being fed from. Exhilarating, yes, sensual, yes, in so far as it seemed to engage all the bodily senses, rather than being a sexual act, although it was possible those undertones were there. It was made more difficult to describe, because I was aware of his senses too, the power of my blood – perhaps he could taste a touch of the fae side of me – invigorating him. Again, I could sense that deep hunger in him, kept in check by his iron self-control, as he stopped, taking only what I would have done when feeding from a mortal. He thanked me and said he was honoured that I had allowed him to be the first to feed of me. Maintaining his hold on my hand, he told me to concentrate on the blood, rushing in me and in him, and to imagine what it could do.
I was at a loss for a moment, and then I remembered the vampire I had met in the States who could light candles by his will. I looked at the recently snuffed candles, imagining the blood being hot, so hot it could ignite the wick once again, but it was not to be, even with the help I could sense from him. I muttered that it was perhaps a bit optimistic and asked for suggestions. He looked at me, still, by the look of him, stimulated by my vitae and shook his head. I was heading in the wrong direction. He told me to concentrate on my blood, and how some was in him, and to try to give him something, some strength or skill. I thought for a moment, and remembered the various things I had in my bag, including some pages from the accounts. I knew from experience, that I could tally up those columns of figures in a moment and wondered if I could get him to do the same. I pulled out one of the sheets and folded the bottom edge over to conceal the totals. I said I would try to make an accountant out of him and gave him the sheets. I concentrated on the blood, imagining the columns of figures in my head, adding them up. Then, I thought of something that made sense in terms of the blood and imagined a measuring cylinder, such as we had used in chemistry lessons at school, being filled from smaller ones, each smaller one representing one of the figures, and the larger one representing the total. I concentrated on these things, imagining them happening in him.
He looked a little surprised, and not a little pleased. It was not a subject he had studied in any detail, he said, but now he could see how I balanced the books. It was a good first attempt, he told me, and in time, I could gain mastery of it and convey almost anything. I then felt his will stiffen against my influence, cutting me off. Defence was something I would have to learn too, he told me, against others trying to influence me. That was an easier lesson, to me anyway, as I remembered the lessons I had been given in London against psychic and mental attacks. It should be easy enough to adapt those shielding techniques to using the power of the blood. And so it proved to be, as he launched at attack on me, albeit a benign one. He appeared pleased with my progress, but said I should practice, and also be careful to conserve my forces, as using the powers would deplete me until I could feed again.
The lesson seemed to be over then, for now. I sensed that he was receiving messages from others, Kustav perhaps. Vedis was coming, he told me, for a further meeting regarding their alliance, and he could not keep her waiting. There were other powers, he said, but they could wait until another time. He asked if I could tell him of the power I had witnessed elsewhere, and then he could say if they were possible using the blood powers he was teaching me.
He did not need me for the meeting with Vedis, not any more, and I got the impression he quite relished locking horns with her again. I left him then, to retire to my cottage and to rest, to integrate what I had learned, what I had gained. In truth, I was feeling both drained and, in a peculiar sense, bloated, as if wondering if my body, my being, could cope with what was being poured into it from Maric and from Alec, all that inside of me, alongside the pulse that Isabella had given me. Was it all going to be too much? I didn’t know.