Book 4, Chapter 52

Sebastian did an admirable job with my dress. It was robin egg blue, with lace trim in a deeper shade. Most notably, it covered me quite thoroughly, leaving only my face exposed. The parasol did the trick for keeping that shaded, and keeping me from getting bitey.

Well, bitey-er.

Fortunately, the walk to Lord Archarel’s party was a short one: Sebastian led me back through the archway we had come from, and we were there. The festivities took place within a massive circle of standing stones. Stone archways were spaced equidistantly about the perimeter. Within the circle, an overabundance of faeries danced and laughed and chattered.

My senses went into overdrive, slamming me with a cacophony of conversations. It was far more than I could sort through, so I just grit my teeth and tried to focus on Sebastian as he led me through the crowd. It was surprisingly difficult: not just because of the volume of the conversation, or the eye-catching visuals of faeries in hundreds of unique forms and costumes. No, what really gave me trouble was the thrumming rumble of all those heartbeats.

Faerie heartbeats.

I’d refrained from destroying Sebastian so I could use him to get close to my Megan, and he had led me to a buffet the likes of which I’d never imagined. I felt like an overstimulated cat surrounded by toys: everyone around me was prey. The slightest movement clamored for my immediate attention, and I didn’t dare give in to the distraction or I knew I would find myself struggling against the urge to pounce, whatever my goals may be.

It was perhaps the most cruel torture any faerie had put me through.

I kept my head lowered so that my hyperactive attention wouldn’t give me away by showing on my face: I didn’t need some faerie wondering why the ’emptied’ witch accompanying Sebastian was showing far more interest in her surroundings than someone devoid of aura should be capable of. Sebastian maintained his pace just ahead of me, further shielding me from view. I concentrated on the tiny piece of my soul that was shared from Megan, and the resonance that let me know I was finally approaching her once more. That was probably the second worst torture a fae had put me through: I could feel us growing closer, but didn’t dare look for her.

At last Sebastian stopped at a long table that was piled up with food: elaborate arrangements of meat, cheese, fruit, pastries and the like. I couldn’t have cared less about the contents of those dishes, though. The true feast was all around me, dancing about, laughing, and talking in naive ignorance: all oblivious to the predator in their midst.

Sebastian pulled out a tall-backed chair that seemed to have been shaped from a single piece of wood, as though a small tree had grown in the shape of a seat. I sat.

“Miss Megan,” I heard Sebastian say. “I believe this is a friend of yours.” His voice was haughty and cruel. “As my lord has commanded, I leave her here so that you may contemplate the significance of your future choices.” His hands rested briefly on my shoulders. The touch amplified my awareness of our leyline until I could feel his nervousness, but none of it showed in his voice. If anything, he sounded haughty and cruel: exactly the role he needed to portray, since he was acting the part of himself had he actually drained Emma and brought her to Archarel’s gathering instead of being trapped by me.

I thought a brief note of approval at Sebastian, and felt his surprise — enough for him to jerk his hands away. Although, in all fairness that might have been because I interlaced the approval with a note of anger: the part he was playing showed how he would have mistreated my Emma, and although she was worthless as a donor she was still mine. And that meant that at some point there would have to be reprisals made against Sebas for his unrealized intentions toward her.

I heard Megan’s sudden intake of breath. “It… It’s really…”

I shifted my head just enough so that I could raise my eyes and catch Megan’s. I heard her heart hammer, and it was all I could do not to cross the table and pin her down and… I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to ravish her body or just her throat. Both, I decided. Sympathetic vampire healing might prevent me from leaving physical marks to show that someone was mine, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t make them know, regardless.

The corners of my lips curled up hungrily. Megan continued to stare at me, wide-eyed, but she didn’t say a damn thing more. She wasn’t stupid: she knew that something had to be going on, that there was no sane way Archarel would allow a starved vampire at his banquet table. But more importantly? My connection to Megan was far, far stronger than it was to anyone else. Just as I had when I’d realized she was a changeling, I could reach across the link of our shared soul and into her aura. And, I realized, so to could she to mine. I took a deep breath, letting it expand my slender chest. My nostrils flared slightly on the exhale. The blood leeched from Megan’s face, only to flood back into her cheeks as I hit her with the entirety of my desires.

I had told her once before not to ever push energy to me again. She tried to push aura at me anyway in response to at least half of the hunger I let her feel. I turned the energy aside, refusing to accept it and letting it flow back into her. When I took aura from her, it would be through her blood. She had said she wanted nothing more than a relationship that would last forever. If it was going to be with me, then she was going to have to accept me in my entirety. Blood lust and all.

I shook my head almost imperceptibly. For so much of my life, I had relied on her to get by in even the most mundane of circumstances. Well, now I was dead and I didn’t need her for that. This time she follows my lead, I thought firmly. And once we’re done here I’ll have to impress upon her the fact that I don’t need her to take care of me for me. A part of me that my living self would never have experienced — a part that my living self would have been too desperately needy to have — was angry that Megan had even tried to slake my thirst by pushing her aura to me.

But it was a small part, and barely vexed me: I was confident that I could come up with an inappropriate punishment.

Megan swallowed and nodded — a barely perceptible bobbing of her head that was glaringly obvious to my over-charged situational awareness.

Our imperceptible exchange passed in the barest of instants. When Sebastian continued talking, it was a continuation of his initial taunting. “Now,” he said, “please do think about your decisions. I will return momentarily with the Lady Fumiko, so that you can make all the appropriate comparisons before you decide if you want Lord Archarel’s good will or his animosity.”

Sebastian disappeared into the crowd behind us. I registered his departure only because I couldn’t help noticing it. He was supposed to find Fumiko, as he’d been instructed by Archarel. Find her, bring her up to speed, and then bring her to Megan and I. I left all of my intentional attention remained fixed on Megan, even as I lowered my eyes again before anyone else could notice the glance we’d exchanged and remark on it.

“Lady Megan,” a woman’s voice suddenly came from one of the thrones at the head of the table, “will you introduce me to your friend?”

The voice belonged to a woman with a stunning resemblance to Megan — despite clearly being a different person. They could have been sisters. What’s more: I could smell the faint copper tang of real blood in her veins. She wasn’t a faerie. It didn’t take a genius to realize that she was the quisling who corresponded to Megan’s status as a changeling.

“I…” Megan swallowed and started again. “I don’t know who this is, Orlina. Her aura has been taken from her and she isn’t the person she was.”

I smirked in amusement at Megan’s deflection, but kept my face down. If only Megan knew: I was different, yes, but not a different person. I had long since realized that who I was when I was ‘alive’ and when I was ‘dead’ didn’t change. I had the same memories, had lived the same experiences: the only difference was the lens through which I viewed the world and the instincts that held sway over my desires. While I was dead I could admit that ravishing Megan had been on my mind for years. While I was alive, I was too chicken shit to admit to anything and had to fill in for myself in my own fantasies with brutish thugs and bitchy witches and whatever other people — real or imaginary — crossed my mind. Well, I was admitting to it now: I wanted Megan. Blood and body and aura and soul.

Own that, I thought at my future living self. My toes curled slightly at the rather explicit fantasy I started to weave: Megan, collared and bound and prone while I — I — ran my lips over her trembling skin, my fingers teasing between her legs and my mouth seeking the perfect place to bite. God, that was deliciously hot — no pun intended. And as an added bonus? Since who I was didn’t change when I was alive as opposed to when I was dead, once I went back to being ‘living’ Abby I was going to be stuck with the full memory of this fantasy, these desires, and the knowledge that I couldn’t deny that I possessed that desire or pretend otherwise any more.

I even decided — just to twist the knife on my living self — that I wasn’t going to slake myself on Megan — or ravish her. Not this time. I was going to destroy Archarel, I decided. That would show the rest of these pissant fae not to mess with me or mine, and should slake my thirst nicely. And it would leave ‘living’ Abby with having to deal with her emotional neurosis for once. Which I was sure I would be terrified about, but fuck it: I needed to grow up and stop being so fucking weak when I was alive. I’m not going to bail myself out of it, this time, I thought. I’m sick of hating that part of me whenever I’m thirsty enough to not be fucking insane. Either I own up while I’m sated, or the whole fucking thing burns and I never drink my full again.

That would suck — or rather it wouldn’t, I reflected on the second pun — but right now I was willing to make that sacrifice. It wouldn’t even stop me from feasting as gluttonously as I desired: I had fae bound to me, after all, and I was sure that I could order one to drain me down to sanity if I decided to indulge myself and wound up fed enough to become my weepy, emotional, neurotic wreck of a ‘living’ self. Hell, I could just order Sebas to do it and he wouldn’t dare do otherwise. I might opt for Melvin instead, though: that kind of recurring donation of aura was bound to give my chosen fae a significant boost in strength over time, and Melvin had always been more fun to spar with than Sebastian had proven.

“Now now,” a booming, jovial male voice suddenly interrupted my thoughts, “Don’t be so cruel to the poor thing, Lady Megan. There’s no reason to foreswear your relationship: surely you can sense how important you are to her. And it’s not like pretending she’s less important to you in her diminished state will make me any less inclined to torture her to death if you step out of line tomorrow.”

Megan’s gaze snapped away from me and toward the interloper. I heard her heart speed up, achieving a tempo that was distinctly different from the heavy thumping it had undergone when I’d appeared before her. She was afraid.

Megan, who had protected my living self so many times — who had faced down Salvatore to save me — was afraid. And not for herself. No, she was afraid for me.

Afraid that whoever had interrupted us would make good his casual threat and kill me. I felt my hackles rise and my blood lust displace my physical lust. I could guess who the interloper was, and he had already made one serious mistake.

He had interrupted one of the best fantasies that had ever been put out by the combination of my libido and my hyperactive imagination in my life — or unlife, as the case may be.

And he, I thought with fierce anger, is going to pay for that. In blood.

Midnight Moonlight, Book 4

18 responses to Book 4, Chapter 52

  1. Oh, hey, a new chapter! Just as I was going to bed! Ah, I guess I can stay up for a little while longer. ‘S’not like it’s two am already or anything. xD

    I really quite like this chapter. The anticipation is killing me! Archarel is probably prepared for this kind of eventuality, or he could not be, I dunno.

    • Eren Reverie

      😀 We shall see…

      I actually have the next chapter in the queue already. It’s making me twitch a little, knowing it’s sitting there scheduled for Friday instead of Wednesday, ha-ha.

  2. Syndic

    I like how (well-meaning, teasing) mean vamp-abby is to alive-abby here… and also, how (well-meaning, teasing) mean the author is to us readers with all the “ooh, but NEXT update surely Archarel will get his! No? ok, but NEXT…. ^^

  3. *evil smirk*

    …the vampticipation is killiing me…

  4. x

    My the corners of my lips

    And, I realized, so to could she to mine.
    so too

    obvious to my over charged situational awareness
    to me over my

  5. Eduardo

    She must freeze time before doing anythng.
    She is facing the guy that controls the sun in this domain after all.

    • Doesn’t he control time in said domain too?

      • EmbarrassedReader

        Not to mention that, in a way, she is WEARING a soul. Which is usually what stops her from approaching people when she slows time. So it’s like someone’s holding her…. All over.

        But assuming she can slow time, I question how slow everything will actually become. Does she slow things relative to some constant time coefficient, her current time, or the time of the area she is in?
        In other words, if she slowed time, would she actually slow it down, or… WOULD SHE SPEED IT UP?! (Assuming the time progression there is slower than her normal time slow.)

  6. fangfan

    Thank you for the new chapter. You sure build up anticipation here.

    I’m a little puzzled about her level of satiation and her corresponding state of mind. In the chapter before Pipsqueak drained her, she was still mostly acting like good old well fed Ms Anxiety Disorder, too panicked to think straight, although she should already have been drained enough that Sebastian mistook her for a drained vampire victim. Now she has just recently got a good fill of fairy blood and is still even beyond the line of rational emotionless half drained Abby and well on her way to hungry boodlusting overconfident psychopath Abby. Or is it rather the presence of so many tasty fairies than her hunger that invokes this side of her?

    • Eren Reverie

      Thanks. 🙂

      So, for your puzzlement:

      There are a few things coming into play over the course of these chapters. When Abby first arrived, her aura was bloated from Lewellan’s — but took enough of a hit from entering a home uninvited for it to drop ‘below human normal.’ However, a partially drained human is still capable of emotional response — just not a variety of emotional responses, and the buffer around her curse was still in place (but in most cases, when Abby becomes hungry ‘naturally,’ that buffer is the first to go). So psycho vampire side was still locked up, and low-aura Abby *more* at the mercy of whatever emotional response won out at any given moment than she is normally, since vamp-Abby couldn’t come out.

      When Pips drained her, that buffer would have gone and vamp Abby would have been free to take over. Also, when she pounced Sebas, Abby deliberately cut her feeding short — I’m pretty sure she said she’d stopped as soon as she’d taken enough of the edge off for the sun to stop burning her, which would’ve put her right on the edge between vamp Abby and living Abby (maybe Under to go back and emphasize that more). So she didn’t get a full ‘meal’ off of Sebas — just enough to give her a little self-control. In any event, rebuilding her buffer to protect herself from the sun wouldn’t have done much to restore her living aura — leaving her vampy nature still in control, albeit partially screened off.

      And after that… Well, her curse had grown and spread during the Lewellan showdown, which has to have had some effect on the strength of its associated urges, and that *is* an awful lot of tasty fae to be hanging around when all she’d had to eat recently was the spiritual equivalent of a bag of airport peanuts.

      Let me know if all of that makes sense, and if you think I should go back to adjust or emphasize things in the story. I’ll admit: I have been exhausted lately, and I know that’s had an impact on my focus while writing, so it’s easily possible that I ha sent been conveying what I intended to as well as I’d like to think I have. 🙂

  7. Micha

    Mmm… new reader, just found the website a few days ago, and managed to get through everything. And I’m enjoying the story immensely! I love your work so far.

    • Eren Reverie

      Thanks! I’m glad to hear from a new reader. 🙂 Have you also checked out Et Alia? It’s the only other piece of work I have currently published, but it’s a much lighter read than Midnight Moonlight (And I’m trying to gear up to publish the second book of it, since I’ve been writing that off and on for a while now and would have a *huge* buffer for it.)

      Regardless, thanks for saying hi, and goodness: That’s a lot of reading in a very short amount of time. I’m impressed.

  8. fangfan

    Thanks for your quick and in depth response to both my posts. Your explanation is entirely satisfying. I reread the chapters from the showdown with Lewellyn to check if I should have gotten the hints on my own. The pieces of the puzzle are all there, but IMHO there should be a more direct hint that they belong together.

    I was aware from the duell with Lewellyn that Abby has learned to control absorbed but not yet consumed essence to a certain extent – putting it in the way of geas attacks to shield more important parts of her soul as well as wrapping it around her vampire curse to keep it under control even when taking damage to her aura. I also did remember the way you described Emma’s emotional state while having a drained aura, particulary her inability to feel more than one strong emotion at a time, thus being overwhelmed by fear or by feeling unliked and inferior, if one of this negative feelings invades her mind (thereby driving away any other emotion). The missing piece of information was that Abby’s Aura could suffer the same damage with the same consequences as a mortal human aura. I was under the impression that once her aura suffered too much damage, the vampire would come out. I didn’t realize that she could go to a state of mind like nearly drained Emma without giving up the confinements around her curse. Maybe you could have made that clearer in the chapter in which she enters the fairy realm and takes that heavy blow to her essence, by describing that she starts to feel odd, can’t seem to think straight, maybe has some problems to maintain the buffer around her curse. (Or maybe it’s just me being slow and it was perfectly clear to the other readers 🙂 ).

    Now that you explained I also appreciate the chapter in which she is so caught in her fear that she misses the chance of calling in debts when she is free from the gag and just rambles about crazy bullshit instead. When I first read it, I thought you had overdone her anxiety there, she should not be (and ususally is not) THAT much inept while being her human self. If she was even more overwhelmed by her fear than usual because of her drained aura, that part perfectly fits.

    • Eren Reverie

      I’m glad to hear that it does indeed all hang together, and that it doesn’t just make sense in the confines of my own imagination. ;D I’ll try to make some time and keep a note that I should go back to the ‘arrival’ chapter and put in some more clear descriptions of the state of her aura, and I may go into the ‘un-gagged’ chapter and add something to the scene wherein she recognizes that she is more manic from anxiety than normal, and realizes why — even though she doesn’t manage to get a hold of herself before being gagged again.

      Thanks for your questions: I tend to develop a lot of details — and even some broader strokes — as I’m writing instead of outlining everything in advance. I enjoy writing more when there is some discovery to be made for me, too, so I’m often building on what I’ve developed in previous chapters on the fly as I’m writing new ones — and I appreciate it when my readers hold me accountable for anything that doesn’t make sense in a scene, or that requires more foreshadowing and such. It keeps me from letting myself go careening off track and just making things up left and right, haha, which improves the quality of the story for everyone.

  9. star34

    Abigail wouldn’t mind having one of her fear induced fantasy’s interrupted, but one of the best good erotic ones will end up with the other person broken at the best of times.

    And he is not going to get the best of times.

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