~ 1 ~
Boryn awoke to a crash, slamming painfully through his body, and then another as his heart struggled to pump. Each beat forced blood through his desiccated body, once again reviving him. At first, the rhythm was far from steady, but gradually, the cadence improved to a slow, erratic pulse.
“A thousand years have passed. Your sentence is spent.” Pahele, his master’s voice flowed over him, through him, like a father’s touch.
He was free from his long imprisonment. His crime was finally forgiven.
“Never speak of it. Never repeat it.”
Even with the warning, he couldn’t help thinking of the child he had killed. It had been an accident, but that was the mistake that could never be made. His tasc that night had been to ease the father’s soul into transition, for only when a body dies may the soul move on to its next life and a new destiny. This man hadn’t wanted to leave his young daughter, and in the end he hadn’t. They went on to the next life together.
And Boryn had paid for the mistake with a thousand years of complete solitude, bound within the earth. After the first hundred years, his body had shut down to conserve what was left of his flesh’s nourishing blood. Nine more centuries had gone by while he waited, while the other cyvampis had carried on and completed tascs that should have been his responsibility.
“Master? Do the others know?” Did the other cyvampis know of his crime, of his punishment, of his failure?
“The others have no need to know this. Now rise and take care with your needs before you return home.” He felt his master’s touch brush gently over his forehead. Forgiveness washed over him, then solitude once more. With the light contact from Pahele, the thud of his heartbeat found a smoother rhythm. His master was the source. Pahele’s power could strengthen them all, over any distance and never lessen from its own. The light touch had felt even stronger than before, different in some way.
Then he understood what he had missed during his imprisonment. Pahele had finally joined with his soul mate, Sadrina. Together they would be a never ending fount of power. Pahele probably could have restored Boryn’s drained body with no more than a breath in his direction, but his master also believed in justice.
Part of his punishment was to suffer when awakening. He accepted and welcomed the pain as the final payment for his terrible crime.
Even with the improvement that came with Pahele’s slight gift, there was much wrong with Boryn’s newly awakened body. The worst was the weakness. A terrible weight pushed at him, holding him to the catacomb shelf where he lay and he still lacked the strength to push free. Had the cave collapsed, entombing him, while he slept? His body shuddered, raising dust and debris into the air.
“I think I see something up ahead. Go carefully in case the dust is from a cave in.” The deep voice echoed into the cave, stilling Boryn’s motion. Someone was approaching and he had no way of escaping notice, at least not until he regained some of his wasted powers.
“What is that, Dad? Pass me the extra light.” A child’s voice? Good. They were probably not hunters then.
“Josh! Slow down. You know better than to rush while exploring.”
Boryn felt the burning as the light passed over his closed eyes. The boy, Josh, must have found him. “Dad, you gotta see this!” The excited voice erupted very near to Boryn, roaring painfully into his sensitive ears.
“Josh?” Quiet but firm steps patted against the uneven floor. The man had entered right behind the boy. “Oh Sh- sheesh, that’s a mummy. We found a mummy!”
Boryn lay completely still before them. He hadn’t the strength to use his powers to conceal himself or escape yet. He would need blood before his strength truly returned. The heartbeat of the man was strong and full of lure, drawing his attention, begging him to take what he needed so badly.
“A mummy? Oh yeah! Like in the museums. This is so cool. How do we get it out?”
The child... Boryn resisted the call of the blood. With his hunger so fierce, even the man would be at risk of him losing control and taking too much. It was better to wait. It was safer to wait.
“We don’t.” The clatter of rocks hitting the floor drowned out his words.
“What? Why not?”
“We can’t move this body. This could be evidence in a murder. We’ll have to call the police first. We have to find the proper people to come move it, so that the body won’t be damaged any worse. We may have to call the city museum and see if we can find a mummy expert, who knows how to do this right.”
“I guess so. It’s pretty bad now. How old do you think it is and how did it get here? What if someone else finds it? We should go get them now, just in case.”
“Yes, we should. But go careful.” The voices faded as the two left the cave.
Escape. He had to get away before they returned with police or their mummy experts. Once away, he could focus on his return to living and his pressing need for blood.
His powers were ancient, even if they were currently depleted. He had many skills, one of which was the ability to absorb energy from his environment, but to do so took time. His senses expanded, felt for power that he could claim as his own. Although deep in the earth where few would think to find power, there was plenty for him to gather. The rich earth, abundant rock minerals and the flow of underground water. Pahele chose this site well. The energy gathered at his call and slowly soaked into his being.
An hour passed before he had gathered enough to leave the stone bed. He followed the lingering scent of the humans, tracking them through the cave system, back to the entrance.
The night closed around him, welcoming him back among the living. The full moon brightened the world below his rocky hill. His eyes squinted against the painful light. It has been so long. Below him, flat fields stretched out with a small town near the center.
When he had failed, there had been only two small cabins here and a land covered in dense forest.
As he walked down the trail, he stopped at a small stream. His moonlit reflection startled him. No wonder the boy thought him a dead body. His clothing was mostly disintegrated, leaving only rags and his skin was not in much better condition. He drank some of the water that could moisten his mouth, but not quench his thirst. Then he splashed the water over his face to wash some of the dirt away.
He needed blood. The craving gnawed and tore at him. Blood of any kind would allow him to start healing and regenerating the lost skin and muscle. As Pahele had said, he would have to be careful to not take too much. It was forbidden to kill any who were not assigned as a transition tasc. Punishment. He would have control this time. He would not fail.
Boryn would have to enter the town and seek out humans for their blood, but he couldn’t do so as he looked now. First would have to be some healing. He started for the nearest farmstead and perhaps there a way would be provided.
The first farm on the outskirts of town appeared temporarily deserted, but it still offered much to him. In the stable were several horses and he took some blood from each. Animal blood was foul and still left him weak with the added pleasure of being queasy. Yet he needed it to begin regenerating. Also it lessened the danger of him losing control of his dangerous thirst around people, and for that he was grateful. On the porch he found straw people made up with worn clothes. The clothing he took for his own, leaving only his bare feet to look out of place.
He faced the town and breathed in the scents from the breeze while opening his senses completely to know what was in that direction. He felt the pounding of the blood within the town. There were plenty of people to feed from, enough that he would be unlike to be seen or left unsatisfied.
A hot spicy scent flowed over him.
Blood and sex. And more, something wild and full of life. It called to a painful need within him, a need for more than blood. The scent was on the breeze coming from the town. Such good fortune. Everything he desired was exactly where he was going.
Released October 31, 2006 with Cobblestone Press!