Raven met no resistance at all moving through the halls of the Rosetta Estate. Every vampire he came across stepped aside as quickly as they could. Most welcomed their Elite with the usual greeting, but he had no time for them. His mind was fixed on one thing and one thing alone; finding her! He pushed open the double doors to the office where he sensed another strong presence along with Marina's.
'Raven!', Marina yelled, getting up to walk towards him. She stopped dead in her tracks just before she passed Devereaux. From the corner of his eyes, grey iris slits were piercing right through her and she could hear the vibrating growl coming from his chest. With a worried expression on her face, she looked back at Raven and sat down on the couch once more.
'Iden…', Raven cautiously growled, looking once again at Devereaux's proximity to Marina.
'Riverblossom Hills, Life of the Farmer, is what you chose over guiding your own kind?', Iden continued pretending not to hear.
'You made me your regent when I told you I didn't want this, this responsibility!'
'I assumed you were joking, because I recall you being quite adept in it before I went under. And now left up to Calum, look where we are now. A hunter dead, Lillian practically at my doorstep… again! So you say you did not want it, fine then, but why leave?'
'Yet you stayed with her! You do realize how transparent you are, do you not? Just look at her! If I could not find you and I stumbled upon her first. She would have led me straight to you. Practically the same height… Same long black hair… I thought you were done with the rebounds'
'Marina is not a rebound!'
'Ah, Marina is it, such a lovely name. She refused to give it to me when I asked', Iden looked in Marina's direction with a smile, but Raven still wasn't relaxing. 'But I see I have taken her at an inappropriate moment judging from your appearance. You must be famished. Please, do not let me stop you', Iden gestured towards Marina, but Raven didn't move. Iden smiled and dismissed Devereaux as watchdog. 'Or has your preference changed brother?'
'Preference, indeed sweet one', Iden replied immediately letting her know he still heard her, 'Every vampire has one. It is determined by the first thing one feeds on. Mine for instance Is the same as my brother here; young ladies, such as yourself—', Iden answered, making an elegant hand gesture towards her. She was terrified the first time she was brought to him. The fear that had been absent when hearing about Raven being a vampire, came almost double in the presence of his brother. Iden reminded Marina of the vampire- and horror movies of old; Victorian jacket and ruffles complete. Although elegant, still intimidating… even with Raven there given her a certain feel of protection.
'Cannot? Or will not?'
'I see… after what happened, I cannot say that I blame you. However, I have no such feelings and am curious if her blood is as delicious as she is beautiful'
'Only a drop, she shan't even miss it', Iden stretched out his hand, waiting for Marina to give him hers. She looked at Raven wondering what to do, but he kept a sharp eye on his brother and remained quiet. Marina slid a shaking hand into that of Iden. She had offered her blood to Raven once and he refused her; now his brother would have it and he didn't do anything to stop him.
It finally came when the corners of Iden's mouth lifted in a half-smile. 'Curious; The smell of your blood is almost irresistible; it is making my mind spin. Very intoxicating and……. toxic!'
'Toxic?', Marina asked astound, 'My blood is toxic?' She was relieved he wouldn't drink from her, but there was a sense of panic in her voice as well.
'In all my years of existing I have never once encountered someone whose blood was toxic to vampires and here you stan—', Iden stopped abruptly when a certain memory caught up to him. He had heard of poisonous blood before… way back when all of this started. He looked at Raven who nodded, knowing they were on the same page, before taking a step back from Marina.
'-Lusus Naturae- means freak of nature'
'You know Latin?', Raven frowned at Marina.
'No… Binny was looking up vampires yesterday and I remember -lusus- as one of the words they used to insul… describe your kind and -naturae- spoke for itself'
'You are not incorrect; it does mean Freak of Nature and not to be impolite, but you are indeed one. I am one of the first vampires so I know how we came to be. You, lovely creature, were born to be the mate of one of us. If we were not vampires, nature would not have seen fit to create you as you are…'
'A Vampire's mate; what does that mean for me?, she asked looking from Raven back to Iden.
'It is as much of a mystery for you as it is for us. Like I have said, you are the first!'
'You also said I'm mate to one of you…'
'Correct again. Your blood is toxic to me, as well as Raven, which means that you are still unclaimed. I would have you for myself were my heart still my own, but alas it is not', Iden smiled and walked over to one of the bookcases purposefully ignoring Raven's growl over those words.
'Claimed? I have to be claimed?', Marina pulled a face at the thought of being some prize to be won. Fight it out, the winner gets her… Of course her mind was running wild with errand thoughts since she didn't fully understand what that meant.
'Wait, I'm completely confused right now! Why are you telling me this? Not a minute ago you were holding me prisoner---'
'Not prisoner, more guest under supervision', Iden interrupted.
'---and now! Now….n-now y-you…', Marina's voice faltered and Iden elegantly caught her just before she passed out.
'Nothing, she refused everything I offered her; even water. It must be the air. I take it two stories below street level should not contain much oxygen. Take her upstairs'
Raven cursed at his brother and carried her back to the upper level of the estate. Iden, carrying the books she dropped, followed them.
'Because I have oxygen deprived rooms?', Iden thumbed away a drop of blood from his split lip before it healed again. Raven took another swing at him, but Iden caught his fist before it made impact and pushed it back. 'Once was enough, brother!'
'You brought her into this. A human in a pit full of vampires. She's not safe here!'
'That is absurd. No one will hurt her if they know who she belongs to. She is safest here and you know it. If Lillian had caught wind of where you were and found Marina there, what do you think would have happened? To see you give your affection to someone when there her sister once stood? The same sister whose demise she still holds you responsible for. Lillian can say otherwise, but I know her far too well. She has been yearning for a reason to fight you, us, again. And now she has it…'
'How long do you think before she confronts us?'
'Three weeks, a month perhaps. She has been gathering her allies since the death of the hunter. 4 of the 7 hunter clans are already in the city. We need to start preparing our units as well'
'We'll be ready'
'Yes, but right now, you need to help yourself and feed. You do not look well, brother!', Iden squeezed Raven's shoulder.
'It won't work; I fed last night. 4 women', Raven sighed walking around the bed,' I'm a lost cause brother. It'll take a lot of women to satisfy this bloodthirst---'
Iden looked from his brother to Marina and sighed. 'I shall be on the lookout for a witch to perform the mating ritual if need be, but first, come brother. We have much to talk about'