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AB Type

Summary:
AKA The Greatest Story Ever Told, by the Greatest Historian of the World. Aro's lived, figuratively speaking, for three thousand years. Ever wonder what he's seen and done?


Notes:


3. Deofilion Part 1

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2816   Review this Chapter

Oh dear Augustine, Augustine, Augustine;
Oh dear Augustine, everything's gone!
Your money's gone, your girl's gone,
Everything's gone, everything's gone;
O dear Augustine, everything's gone!
During the next few days, I took the time to relearn my body, test its new strengths and realize its new weaknesses.

I could run halfway across the Italian landscape in a night—without tiring. I jumped from a cliff to the ocean kilometers below and barely felt the blow of such an impact. After swimming underneath the waves for hours, I never felt the burn from abstaining from oxygen for so long. Stones could crumble away at my barest touch.

During the first hours of my new life (figuratively speaking), I learned of the acuity of my vision, seeing things miles away as clearly as if they stood before me. The barest rustle never escaped my hearing and my sense of touch had evolved so I could feel every diminutive bump and fissure in the smoothest surface. I once tried human food, a thick broth, to see if I could still ingest it. I was able to taste every ingredient, the meat that had begun to rot when the animal was killed, the acidity of the vegetables, the sharp fragrance of the substance.

Repulsive is not a strong enough word.

Nevertheless, nothing grew as powerful as my sense of smell. I could smell everything within a five-kilometer radius—more depending on the direction and strength of the wind. The most attractive scents were the ones emitted from objects with a beating heart, particularly if said heart was human.

I hope you do not take it as an insult when I tell you that your species smells absolutely succulent. You, with your human senses, cannot even imagine it. There is nothing like it in the world. The fragrance envelops you like a comforting shroud, removing all barriers, all pain, all discomfort. It drapes around you like a lover, its hands at your face, your neck, your abdomen, whispering at your ear a sweet caress, a sweet urging.

Stoker made a small mistake. It is not the human who is seduced by the vampire but the vampire who falls wholly under the human’s spell and can no longer control himself.

Because of this, I headed north, away from Ticinum and away from Milena. As I am sure you are already aware of, during their first year of life, vampires are constantly thirsty. It pained me to abandon my daughter but the fear that I would accidentally lose control and consume her as I had her mother was enough of a deterrent to keep me away.

I traveled by night. My newfound vision allowed me to see as clearly in the dark as I could in light, an invaluable trait as any vampire will tell you. Well, surely, you remember that we glitter like diamonds whenever we step into sunlight. We can hardly waltz into a plaza at noon and stop for a bite, now can we?

Yes, the pun was fully intended. It just seemed too perfect to ignore.

Anyway, as I was saying, I traveled south. Peoples came from the Danube region to settle in the fertile valleys and fields of Italy. New towns and villages dotted the hills and pastures. I traveled constantly from village to village, feeding where I could and absorbing Stories.

Stories are what I call the thoughts I glean from other people’s memories.. I never forget a Story once I absorb it; they’re all in my mind like a thousand books each carefully identified and classified. First they are divided into human or vampire Stories and then by importance. For example, from the human Stories, Chiara is the most important because her memories are the clearest views I have to my own human life. From the vampire Stories, Marcus’s and Anna’s are foremost; Marcus because of his power (and the fact that he only communicates through thoughts) and Anna because…well, she’s my mate. I am constantly touching her.

Yes, that would be awful; to be consumed by a myriad of thought and memory every time I touched another being. Thankfully, if I touch a person a second time, only the thoughts forged between the last time I absorbed their Story and the second time I touch them pass to me. Like a continuation of a series. I shudder to think what would happen if I received their entire story again and again. Repeated memories are not something you want when you are unable to forget anything.

However, this I learned much later, after I joined my first coven. At the time, I would become startled at the rush of memories that would flood my senses every time I simply grazed someone’s shoulder or the like during my wanderings. Soon, though, I began to “stumble” into them and accidentally graze a hand or a bare shoulder. From this, I learned about the area where I was, the closest towns, and the most populous centers…along with the dullest information about the price of eggs, the many children a certain man had populating the country, how beautiful Antonia was becoming and the like. Mind-numbing at times but I cannot filter through Stories. It’s either absorb the entire thing or not at all.

As if not being able to listen from a distance was bad enough. I would kill to be able to eavesdrop on whatever detail I fancied to hear, whenever I wanted, not only when presented with physical contact.

Nevertheless, sometimes, the annoying tidbits of information are useful. I grazed a man’s hand when I was passing him by and his thoughts jumped to me. The last proved the shortest and the most important.

…damn wolves keep killin the sheep. I told ’im we ought ’t’ave hunted ’em down long ago but does people listen to me? It’s only when ’is daughter is getting ’er throat rip ou’ tha’ ’e’s int’rested…

Accompanying the erudite thoughts was an image of several sheep and a young girl, their throats viciously severed. However, not a single drop of blood seeped from the wounds.

As the Thirst began to settle, my sanity returned and with it, I saw Chiara’s body on the floor, a vicious gash in her neck from which no blood flowed. Her eyes were wide and glassy, reflecting the room around her but showing no light behind them.

I knew it was Chiara, I knew she was my wife. But I did not understand why she was lying so still on the floor. I especially could not understand how she was not bleeding from such an awful wound.

Can there be others, I wondered as I ran, effortlessly dodging shrubs and trees. I had never considered the possibility of there being more like me. Like Piero. He was alive, of that I was sure. And there was a chance that the vampire feeding on the sheep was him. At the thought of him, hatred coiled around my unbeating heart, flooded my empty veins. If there was any chance that I could find him, that I could capture him, that I could kill him…

Vampire… such a peculiar word. One of the damned, a blood-sucking monster. A wicked beast that feasts upon the innocent and pure. A soul-less demon.

Yet, I do not consider myself a monster or a demon. Anna would certainly beg to differ about the demon part. And you, of course, may be disinclined to agree about the monster part, but I see no evil in what I do. All creatures rely upon each other for sustenance, such as I did as a human upon meat and eggs, vestiges of other beings surrounding me. The animals. Vampires are much the same. I rely on the delicious bounty of human blood to sustain me, like I used to with the livestock. The circle continues. It is not right to call something by which it is not. And a being that adapts and fights for its survival (though in my case it can hardly be considered fighting) is no monster. It is as it is, a creature of the earth.

Circle of life and all that jazz.

Only once have I ever run as fast as I did that night. I finally reached the village a few hours before dawn. The village itself was simply four houses spaced a few kilometers away from one another. From the man’s memories, I recognized which house belonged to the girl who had been killed and crept to the dwelling. Around a window in the back I caught a strange, sweet smell. I would eventually know this as a vampire’s smell and that night, unsure of what it belonged to, I followed it. The trail weaved toward a small wood and there another scent joined it, gentler and sweeter. The two scents remained together and I followed the trail eagerly, planning what I would do to Piero when I found him. The spare was simply a hindrance and would retreat or be killed as well.

“We know you’re following us. Come out and we won’t hurt you.”

I froze. The smell had been steadily growing stronger until it was nearly visible. Now, I could see two shadows before me in a small clearing. Knowing I had been found, I stepped carefully toward them and into the clearing. Most likely, I would not be able to outrun them.

Although it was a night of no moon, I could see them, their skin faintly glowing. Neither of them was Piero. Instead, I had stumbled upon a male and a female. The male had pale, brown hair and wore nondescript shepherd’s clothing. The female had a cascade of strawberry-blonde hair, pulled back at her neck. She wore what must have once been a fine shift but was now threadbare with age. Both watched me warily, their bright red eyes indicating they had recently fed.

I knew what I must look like to them. While their clothes were old but obviously well-cared for, my robes were badly torn and dirty. I had not washed in a while and spry vegetation had woven itself into my long, black hair. I also had not been able to feed for a few days a fact I knew would be reflected by the ebony band devouring the red of my pupils.

The male spoke and I immediately recognized him as the one who had called out. “Who are you and why are you following us?” His voice was low and soft as silk.

I recalled my lessons in oratory and diplomacy and I bowed to him. “Forgive me, sir, but I appear to have made a mistake. You see, I have been searching for an acquaintance and when I caught your scent, I mistook you for him. Please, you may be assured that I mean you no harm.”

The male and female looked at each other in surprise. This time, it was the female who spoke in a silvered voice. “You are quite well-spoken. Your tone and manners hint to someone born of the upper-class with great learning, yet your appearance belies the image.”

I immediately heard her unspoken question and answered.

“My name is Aro Deofilion, of Ticinum, fair lady. And if I may be so bold, might I inquire as to your names?”

They again shared a glance.

“I am Livius,” he answered. “And she is Fortunata. We both hail from a city that no longer exists.” There was no bitterness in his voice but I caught a flicker of grief and anger in Fortunata’s face before it became impassive and wary again.

You should remember that I lived during a time when invasions were common. Nations often raided and conquered as they pleased. What they could not claim, they destroyed, turning vampires like Livius and Fortunata into nomads.

Imagine. You awake after three days of sheer agony, three days that seemed like three eternities to you. The moment you awake, those close to you—family and friends—draw away, afraid of you. Afraid of the palidity of your skin, afraid of the iciness of your touch, afraid of the unholy red eyes every young vampire has.

From pain to alienation. It’s easy to channel everything to hate and allow the pieces to fall where they will.

Carlisle Cullen—a friend of mine, I doubt you know him—once asked Anna how she could justify feeding on humans, knowing that only recently she had been human as well.

“They destroyed my life. I hated them,” Anna replied. “And I hated the vampire who turned me even more. He was not present, however, so I lashed out at the closest thing, a human.”

Most vampires will answer in similar form, you will often see.

In Anna’s case, it was worse. She had despised her human life, had tried to end it numerous times before she was turned. After she was, her husband refused to let her near her son. Desperate to see her child and suffering from the desperate Thirst all vampires awake with, Anna attacked and killed him.

Of course, she then had to flee as do all young vampires. Yet, most will yearn for the moment when they can return to their homes, those towns and cities where they were born and raised, in order to learn or remember something of their human life. In so many cases, however, it became impossible. Homes were razed to the ground, the vampires left bereft. Left nomads with no permanent dwelling and nothing but what they had when they were turned to keep with them.

How Anna, like Livius and Fortunata, despised everyone. Ah, my poor beautiful mate. Yet, is it truly any surprise that she hates human as much as she does?

Do not fear, though; she is not cruel to her food. None of us are. Lidia fought with us to make it proper etiquette to snap our meal’s necks before feeding so they would not feel pain. Now, it is second nature to us. We have even impressed this rule upon the Guard to ensure they do the same. It is the least we can do, after all.

At the time, however, I fed in the standard fashion of most vampires.Taking and killing on sight. And thus it was no surprise that Livius would wonder if I had been the one to kill the girl, after I realized he himself had not.

“That was not you?” I asked, carefully controlling my surprise. Fortunata shook her fair head.

“This is the second time we have come here,” she explained. “The first time we could not find humans so we had to feed on a herd of sheep. Tonight, we come back to learn a human girl was killed, her body left for all to see. The humans locked themselves in. We can break through easily, of course, but it is better to not do anything that could raise attention.”

“Very wise, lady,” I said. Livius frowned at me as Fortunata smiled. “Those are interesting news. Tell me, have you picked up another scent during your stay here?”

“Wondering if your friend has passed by?” Livius questioned. “Yes, we did. But, this evening’s rains washed away the scent. It seems your luck is fatal, my friend.”

Truly? I was not aware of that.

Fortunata turned quickly and whispered hurriedly to Livius. I surreptitiously strained my hearing but could not hear what she said. If only I could listen from a distance! When she finished speaking, Livius looked at her closely then examined me.

“Aro, correct?” At my small nod, he continued. “Fortunata has always been the type to lend aid to the needy.”

My insides smarted in anger at the barely disguised insult but I kept my pose relaxed and my face politely attentive.

“If you wish you can come with us,” Fortunata spoke quickly, frowning slightly at Livius. “We’ll see if we can find the scent again, then you can leave with your friend. (And once you find your friend you can depart) Is that all right with you?”

“That is very kind of you, but I would not wish to inconvenience you in such a way.”

“It’s no inconvenience at all,” Fortunata interjected.

At the same time, Livius snapped, “Of course, there are some rules. As you’ll be part of my coven, you will follow my rules. That means you will hunt where I tell you, watch for others, and know your place. As I am the leader, you will do what I tell you without question. Do you understand?”

“You forgot to mention I’m not to touch or address Fortunata without your express consent,” I pointed out politely.

Fortunata giggled but quickly silenced her laugh at Livius’s furious look.

“Yes,” he snarled. “I did. I trust you to remember she is my mate. Do not try anything with her or not finding your friend will be the least of your problems.”

I bowed graciously. “Of course, I would never even consider such a thing. Since we understand each other, shall we be leaving now?”

Livius turned on heel and stalked into the forest. Fortunata smiled warmly at me before following her mate.

Well, that was certainly interesting.