Chapter Three: The Twilit Mists

The winding path seems to go on forever. Surprisingly,  the further Morgan gets into the woods, the brighter it gets -- eventually, the entire forest is the glowing gold of twilight. At first, she expected the light that filtered through the thick, swirling mists to burn her but it doesn't, only further confirming her suspicion that she's not in California anymore. She's not even sure she's on earth at this point... But where else could she be?

It doesn't take long, however, for Morgan to begin to realize that maybe eating the hag wasn't the best decision. The blood sits uneasily in her stomach, refusing to be absorbed,  refusing to give her the energy she needs to keep going... Every now and again, she has to stop, leaning against a tree to keep from falling over as the world suddenly begins spinning.

Sweat breaks out across her brow and she rips the headband off, letting it flutter to the ground. In the thirty years that she's been a vampire, she's never felt sick like this... Morgan didn't even think she could get sick anymore, but the roiling in her stomach and the growing fever disproves that theory.

She staggers forward,  feeling like the woods just go on forever. The longer she walks, the worse the fever gets.  Her wounds throb and ache with every heartbeat. The world around her is blurry and distorted. Morgan comes to a stop,  swaying slightly.

Nausea washes over her in waves and bile rises up in her throat.

Oh no... 

Morgan tries to keep the blood down, arguing with her body -- if she throws up now, she'll have even less blood to heal the wounds...but the blood she took from the hag only seems to be making it worse.

She stumbles forward, falling to her hands and knees in a large clearing. She can't tell if the forest is warmer her or if it's the fever burning in her veins. Thick, syrupy black blood splatters onto the leaf-strewn ground, smelling even worse than it had tasted going down. The absolutely vile stench is enough to make her throw up again and again until her stomach is empty and she's dry-heaving.

Her throat burns, her body burns.  She can feel the tightness in her veins and the world is silent. No breath, no heartbeat. But then there's not any blood in her body for her heart to pump... A low growl leaves her lips and the world turns red.

Her mind is bent on only one thought: blood. Blood now. All the blood. She straightens up, no longer in control of her thoughts and actions as pure blood lust takes over.

Her ears strain for the sound of a heartbeat  -- there are small, animal heartbeats skittering through the wood, but they don't catch her beast's attention, they're not enough.

• • •

Unbeknownst to Morgan,  someone has noticed her presence in the woods. A young woman with wide blue eyes and long hair the color of the sunset cascading down her back strides through the forest.

She felt something strange in the trees-- a kind of presence she had never noticed before... and for this particular Fae, that's incredibly interesting. She's walked the Twilit Woods of Spring all her life, intimately connected to all the growing things that call it home.

The trees whisper to her -- there's someone in the woods. Someone strange.

The flowers sing, dead but alive, alive but dead, what a strange creature!

She steps lightly through the trees, not needing a path to make her way as they lift their roots so she can pass with ease. Its not a human, she can tell that much.

The Fae sees a clearing up ahead and hears...oh dear. It sounds like someone getting very sick. She frowns and hurries into the clearing.

Her eyes go wide when she catches sight of the mysterious presence.  It's a woman! A beautiful woman with long, curly red hair and unbelievably pale white skin.

The Fae runs to the woman as she stands, black liquid running down her chin, her forehead shiny and wet with sweat. "Are you all right?"

• • •

"Are you all right?"

Morgan can barely hear the words over the sound of its owner's heart pounding in her ears. She looks at the girl but doesn't truly see her -- she only sees the throbbing veins in the girl's neck, the warm flush of her skin -- how alive she is. The smell of her blood floods Morgan's senses. Somehow both sweet and salty, it smells like sugared violets, sunlight and tender green leaves... 

Hunger claws at the back of her throat, her entire body tenses,  preparing for the hunt. She growls, her fangs extended fully -- sharp and nearly an inch long. The girl screams and turns to run but in an instant, Morgan is in front of her again. Her inner predator is the one holding the reins now, the sweet woman who hated the idea of hurting the mortals whose blood she needed to survive is gone -- at least until her veins are filled again.

The girl stumbles backward, her eyes wide with sudden fear. She opens her mouth to say something, but whatever it is, the beast doesn't hear. In a flash, Morgan is on top of her -- pinning her down with her arms up over her head. The girl struggles and screams. With a snarl, Morgan bites down on the girl's throat.

Her struggle stops instantaneously. Morgan moans into the bite as blood rushes into her mouth -- hot and sweet, so much unlike the hag's that she had taken earlier. She isn't sure if it's her starvation or simply the blood itself but it's never tasted this good. The liquid that courses down her throat is like the earth springing back to life after a long winter,  sunlight as it filters through a blossoming tree in early spring, the scent of flowers on a gentle breeze. It's euphoric, it's utterly and completely addicting. Even if she had the presence of mind to stop, Morgan might not want to.

Under her, the girl squirms -- not from fear or pain but caught up in the bliss of Morgan's venom. She moans softly.

All around them, vines begin to sprout from the ground, all the tender green of budding leaves. They sway back and forth, almost showing some sort of intelligence... confused as to how their mistress could be in danger if she's enjoying herself...

The moment the threshold of possible death nears, however,  they spring into action. They curl around Morgan's wrists and yank her hands up. A thicker one encircles her waist, pulling her up off of the girl. She struggles against their grip, breathing hard, low growls reverberating in her throat.

More! She wants, no she needs more. She couldn't possibly ever have enough of that ambrosial vintage. The vines hold her while the girl slowly regains herself,  sitting up and then looking at Morgan with confusion rather than fear.

"Well, that's a hell of a way to say hello!" She says,  sounding breathless. There's a lyrical sounding accent to her voice, somewhat similar to Irish,  but not quite.  "A bit of a rude one, too." Her tone is playfully scolding, oddly.

Gradually, the red filter on the world fades and Morgan begins to become herself again. Horror lingers in the back of her mind -- she could have killed this poor girl. Oh God, why hadn't she been more careful?

"I-I'm so sorry!" She cries. The vines are still holding her aloft but she isn't struggling anymore. "I--"

The girl looks her up and down and her expression falls. She reaches out for one of the scraps that remain of Morgan's dress. "Oh..." she frowns.

Morgan turns her face away, suddenly ashamed.  Not because she's practically naked, but because she's in such a downright feral state...she might as well be one of those sewer-dwelling animals that call themselves vampires. Her wounds throb, reminding her that she hasn't been able to heal yet -- she's still quite badly injured. 

"I didn't mean to hurt you..." Morgan says softly. "I didn't...I didn't have a choice. " The words sound flat and more like an excuse than truth.

"Oh no, I'm fine. You on the other hand..." the girl snaps her fingers and the vines release Morgan, setting her down gently on the grass. She takes Morgan's hand, carefully lifting her arm.

Morgan jumps back suddenly,  remembering the hag and her jagged bite.

The girl sighs heavily. "I won't bite, let me see the wound."

Morgan slowly extends her arm. The girl seems kind enough -- her  big blue eyes are warm and welcoming... but the old woman had seemed warm and welcoming as well.

"Ah... I'm surprised you're moving around with a wound like this..." The girl gently runs her fingers along the edge of the wound. "This is poisoned... Come with me I'll take you somewhere safe and we'll get this healed. " she gives a warm smile.

Morgan feels her heart flutter in her chest. The girl is, admittedly, beautiful -- all soft curves and rounded edges. Her long, rose colored hair fades to a brilliant orange at the tips, woven through with small white flowers. The very tips of pointed ears peek out from the strands that frame her face. Her warm, ruddy skin speckled with freckles -- the tops of her shoulders, the bridge of her nose, across her cheeks. Right now, she's dressed in a long white dress made of a material so fine it seems woven from spider silk. The hem floats around her strong calves and her feet are...surprisingly bare.

Everything about her seems to draw Morgan in, makes her want to be close. "I...how do I know I can trust you?"

The girl smiles and shrugs her shoulders. "I give you my word as the Heir of Spring that as long as you do not lift a finger against me, I shall not lift a finger against you. " Her voice takes on a strange tone -- like she's reading an invocation or casting some spell. There's Power in those words.

A strange, warm shudder passes through Morgan. It feels almost like a band of spring itself has settled around her body and she knows instantly that the words are binding.

"...Okay, I believe you." She doesn't really have much of a choice, anyway. Even though she's purged her body of the hag's rotten blood, the feverishness hasn't faded. She still feels unstable, dizzy and weak. The blood should have fixed that and yet...

A sudden wave of  vertigo hits her and she swoons. The vines dart out and stop her from hitting the ground.  The girl sighs, concern clear on her face. "Come on, we best hurry, I'm...not...s....ure....how...m......u....ch....."

Oh no, not again... Morgan thinks, leaving the realm of consciousness yet again.


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