In the Shadows
‘Tura hadn’t known much about being a vampire, her maker, Yaz, had been killed before he said anything useful. Not that he had a mind to tell her much since he was a grimly silent, arrogant, vicious predator with no interest in ‘Tura beyond sex and using her as bait. ‘Tura was no jewel either, quite the vixen, with multitudinous and voracious appetites. Never did bother to clean up after herself, which would be the end of her. Ha!
What he had said was that some of them came into gifts as they got older. Yaz had developed the ability to ghost along, almost invisible in the shadows. She was able to entice victims with her voice and a sultry look. One twitch of her hips and men forgot about honor, and duty and common sense and they died.
‘Tura had been quite young when she was sent as part of Zia’s dowry. One of four handmaidens, chests crammed with bridal goods, twenty cows in calf, three pairs of nicely matched oxen, fifteen mules and
several pounds of gold, silver and electrum jewelry along with a small casket of the
finest quality amber. As royalty, in her own right, Zia commanded her own band
(druzhina) of seven guards and four handfuls of thralls. As part of her personal wealth,
Zia brought with her grazing and hunting rights to a well watered valley and
a fine herd of horses of her own breeding. As a devotee of Epona,
the horse goddess she had much to say in the management of the horse herds,
said it often and vehemently.
‘Tura’s full name was Raicutura. It didn’t mean much, it was just the name of the small town that she came from. Her father wasn’t important, just the head of that same village; her mother had been somebody, stranded by the tides of war, her only remaining wealth: thick golden hair; her only remaining position, flat on her back as the most recent bed warmer. She bequeathed to her daughter – the thick golden hair and a resentment that things had not turned out the way they should have. In ‘Tura the resentment blossomed into a driving ambition to get her ass out of the back end of nowhere and BE something. She wanted to give the orders for a change.
The first inkling of an opportunity came when Zia’s retinue -all eleven of them were presented to the Lord who was to be Zia’s husband. One of the tarabostes1, lords, under the rule of the great king Rubobostes.
This man might sit on a wolf pelt throne2, and he might be grandly attired, but his eyes flashed and he licked his lips when he looked Zia’s ladies in waiting.
Daizus was a lusty man, and as soon Zia’s belly swelled with his seed he began to look around for other fields to plow. There were plenty of willing girls eager for the favor of the lord.
Zia was a strong determined woman and she was with and on her horses up until the minute of the princeling’s birth. Soon after, she was back on her favorite mare, with the babe strapped to her chest.
Since it had been a boy, Daizus was of a mind to let Zia rest and nurse the babe until he was ready to get another child on her. He had plenty of other women to keep his interest.
‘Tura was a bit of a slacker, always on the lookout for some fun. So whenever she was sent to pick up embroidery thread or sweetmeats that were on order she would dawdle, snag a sweetie for herself, eye the fancy goods on offer, and flirt. Oh my, could she flirt! ‘Tura learned to cut her eyes at the handsome boys and put an extra sway in her hips. Such fun! So much better than washing a baby’s clouts. And if she stayed out a little later than she should, well that was to be expected.
Yes, ‘Tura had come into her own since they’d arrived. Daizus himself had taken notice once her breasts had bloomed and her hips broadened. ‘Tura did a little dance of glee every time
Daizus looked hotly at her. She would make something of this, she would.
She may have been ambitious, but she was green as grass and greedy. Not a pleasing combination. Besides Daizus’ breath stank and it was hard to be enthusiastic about a rank, hairy, man who farted his indulgences. Yechhh! Not very good presents either.
So it was that she took her time wandering through the square on market day, making the most of her freedom; fingering cloth, sniffing spices and generally wasting time until it was dusk. ‘Tura looked around and realized most of the merchants had packed up their wares and gone off; she needed to hurry or Zia would be boxing her ears and she would get no supper. Which is why she paid no mind to the gold glinting in the shadows – a sight that would have normally drawn her like a moth to flame. Nor did she heed the soft footfalls that followed her through the dava (town) back towards the gates of Lord Daizus’ house.
A rough hand gripping her jaw caught her attention and, little hell cat that she was, she bit down ferociously and scratched until her nails broke. There was no stopping the strength that dragged her further into the shadows and shredded her cloak and under dress. The only impression she got was of golden skin, snapping black almond eyes and unrelenting strength. Then he bit, she only knew pain, and then only nothing.
The Romans were a pain in everyone’s arse, pushing the Dacians out of their footholds in the Po valley. Shoving the Celts west and the German tribes east all in the name of a greater Rome, and of course gold. There was gold and silver to be had in Dacia and some in Raetia. What might be even better, there was some decent farmland in Gaul and some sweet trade routes to get at the tin in Albion.
Retiring soldiers wanted their nice bit of land and not the kind hanging off a cliff either. Political clients needed to be gotten out of town to lord it over the locals. Everyone wanted the good imported table ware and a brisk business was done in the glossy black Arretine crockery.
All in all, more territory meant more money in the Empire’s coffers. It wasn’t till later that the cost of maintaining the framework for the Empire became obvious. The tables were turned and everyone became a pain in the collective Roman arse.
Meanwhile it was the edges that got all the action and Yaz had found plentiful ‘grazing’. Right now he was amusing himself with the exotic amber eyed blonde. Robust and fruity tasting, perhaps; a pleasant change from the weak blooded redheads. At first he had been intrigued by the blue veins snaking under their pale skin and spent some time playing around with how easily they bruised, but one can get just so much entertainment out of bruises. Ya,’Tura made a feisty bed-mate, worth keeping around for a while…it was nice to have company. He debated turning her, he missed having a childe with him; trust no vampire but the vampire you made. True, that. Hmmm, possibly. Or, he could drain her and leave her on the other side of the wall. All those bite marks would be blamed on wolves…. past the full moon, though, and Daizus rested on a wolf pelt. No they would sniff him out immediately. One more warm fuck, a few improvements and he’d turn her.
‘Tura groggily cracked her eyelids. What in the name of all tormented spirits had happened? Had her mother bequeathed her more ill-luck? Perhaps it was a powerful witch that had cursed her family. She knew somehow it was her mother’s fault, she must have disturbed some vengeful creature while she was pregnant.
This wasn’t supposed to happen to her. She, ‘Tura, knew better than to offend the gods. Proscriptions were followed, gifts were given on feast days (she didn’t keep too much back for herself), she prayed when she was supposed to, and libations were poured (perhaps not of the best ale). Still, her mother’s curse had followed her here.
Here…and where was here? She was trussed up like a lamb for roasting (gods, please no) in the musty gloom. ‘Tura could just make out the barrow she had been stashed in, ransacked grave goods scattered along the walls. That must be why it stank.
Where…where was the one who had seized her and tied her so tightly, (gods her feet were numb, and her shoulders ached ferociously) how soon would he return? Would he return?
If she could roll herself over to one of the drifts of litter there might be a thing she could manage to cut her bonds with. Even though she felt weak ‘Tura’s desperation goaded her to writhe towards the debris. Clouds of nasty dust rose as she flailed her way towards the perimeter; ‘Tura had to stop frequently, consumed by coughing and gagging.
As soon as she reached the wall it dawned on ‘Tura that she couldn’t find much of anything with her hands tied behind her back and she hoped
she was still flexible enough to do enough of a back bend to slip her bond.
She prayed her butt hadn’t gotten too big for this move. What was as easy as breathing for her nine year old self proved to be torture at twice that age. Her shoulders were already on fire but in desperation she gritted her teeth. Tears spilled across her face as inch by inch she worked her bound hands over the obstacle of her heels, rasped the ropes across her arches and sawed and edged it under her viciously cramping toes.
Her developing figure, which she thought would be her salvation, in this case had almost been the death of her. When that stinking, blood drinking, horse fucker came back she wanted to be ready for him.
Of course that was more easily vowed than executed. Her teeth might have had a chance against leather bindings but this tightly twisted hemp would wear her gums bloody before she made much headway. ‘Tura butt-scooted over to the nearest pile of ripped leather pouches and smashed bark boxes, the markings so faded with time that it was now impossible to make out their original design. She did find a stick long enough for her to use to prod the debris without tumbling sideways.
Poke, poke. The only thing ‘Tura uncovered was more mouse dirt and the occasional miniscule bone. She was getting thirstier and thirstier, hunger was a common state, but the thirst bothered her. She’d had to pee something fierce but once she’d gotten her hands around front she’d managed to ruck her dress up enough to get it out of the way. Not the best of solutions, but it had to do.
The gloom was deepening and she had to guess by feel what her stick encountered.
The sudden waft of cool air and a hint of a dry leathery scent let ‘Tura know that her reprieve was at an end. There had been hope, she still had another section of debris to sift through. The rough hands ripping what was left of her dress put paid to the idea of a quick escape and she again fought desperately to avoid her mother’s fate as a slave. She knew what might be in store for her and if she couldn’t escape she hoped to die.
The man grew impatient with her thrashing and offhandedly smacked her so hard she blacked out. When she woke it was dark and it felt as though the man was sitting on her pelvis – which hurt and had a foot braced against her jaw – which also hurt and started her coughing. Worst of all he was doing something right over her breastbone, something that stung horribly. It took her addled mind a while to sort out what might be happening. The last time she had felt this same stinging was when her mother was tattooing one of the good fortune signs of her people on her right thumb – so that all she put her hand to would prosper.
But THIS! ‘Tura didn’t want some foreign tattoo that she didn’t understand, some stranger’s magick worked under her skin.
Anathema to all her remaining beliefs, terrifying to her spirit to be bound to a blood drinker’s ways. She thrashed and bucked even more violently – to be silenced again – and awakened again to find those cruel black eyes filling her vision.
When she next awoke, the gloom had dissipated but her thirst raged. At least her arms and legs were free and she could see better. She could see much better.
‘Tura finally got her creamy ass out of the mountains, but it was being herded willy nilly by Yaz. Avoiding the wolves, they followed the conflicts, snacking and fucking as they traveled hunting the edges of the towns. Yaz didn’t care what she did as long as he got his first. If he didn’t get his he could be very bloody minded.
There was always trouble nibbling at the eastern borders from the Scythians and their ilk. To the north the Germanic tribes were pushing their way through the great forests making life distinctly uncomfortable for the resident Celts who fairly promptly upped skirts and moved west, disrupting everything in their path.
Then the Romans crashed the party. At least they were clean, even though their blood tasted of olive oil and yeccch! fermented fish.
Caesar’s ambitions were a boon to the battle crows circling, waiting. They weren’t the only dragur gleaning blood spoils, but Yaz was by far the eldest, strutting across the midnight battle fields, choosing from the buffet of dying. ‘Tura followed in his shadow, supping at his side, picking up souveniers. He was so old, his fangs were so large that they approached the size of boar tusks; all the others timidly crept about the liminal edges of his magic. Oak leaves trembled when he hissed.
For two centuries ‘Tura thrived as Yaz’ leman and honey pot. Until Caesar and his fucking legions (may they rot) and his fucking organization in an effort to finance his fucking consulship screwed everything, it had been a sweet deal.
The true stink on the shit didn’t rise until the Governor, Metellus Celer was poisoned by his notoriously slutty wife Clodia Maior Quadrantaria and Caesar was awarded the proconsulship of Transalpine Gaul. Lovely trade routes it had, with all flavors of people regularly trooping by. Once you’d gotten north of the Marais there were dry caves to be had. What a life, er, existance.
Yaz had underestimated Caesar’s sweethearts, the boys with the bull banner, beloved of Venus – or was that Caesar – the Legio X Equestris. Yes, indeed, the man himself had put them on horseback to fake out some German ruler, and if Caesar put them on horseback, by gum everyone would know it.
Well, in one of the skirmishes against the Nervii he’d found a gladius wielded by an equestrian could remove a head as neatly as an axman on foot, and that was the end of Yaz. ‘Tura had to get out of there pretty quickly since she couldn’t hide behind Yaz anymore.
It didn’t take ‘Tura very long to get lonely, all of about two days. She felt that with more than three thousand dead and dying Gauls littering the landscape she should have someone to party with.
Someone not like Yaz. What a grump. Besides he was built like a tree trunk, not hairy, his kind rarely were, but thick wrestler’s arms and thighs, hands like platters and oddly dainty feet.
Someone like that lithe young man who was also looking for souveniers. Such beautiful eyes, lovely, full petulant lower lip, what a tumult of dark curly hair; it boded well that he shared her appreciation of things that sparkled.
2The existence of a ritual that provides one with the ability to turn into a wolf. Such a transformation may be related either with lycanthropy itself, a widespread phenomenon, but attested especially in the Balkans–Carpathian region, or a ritual imitation of the behavior and appearance of the wolf. Such a ritual was presumably a military initiation, potentially reserved to a secret brotherhood of warriors (or Männerbünde). To become formidable warriors they would assimilate behavior of the wolf, wearing wolf skins during the ritual. Traces related to wolves as a cult or as totems were found in this area since the Neolithic period, including the Vinča culture artifacts: wolf statues and fairly rudimentary figurines representing dancers with a wolf mask. The items could indicate warrior initiation rites, or ceremonies in which young people put on their seasonal wolf masks. The element of unity of beliefs about werewolves and lycanthropy consists in the magical-religious experience of mystical solidarity with the wolf by whatever means used to obtain it. But all have one original myth, a primary event. Wikipedia , Dacians.