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Valerie Modeste

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The first thing she could remember noticing was how silent everything was. There was a new focus to her hearing now, not only because of how her senses had sharpened. But this eerie silence that it took her longer to place then she thought it would. As a human she had never thought about it, it had laid in the back of her subconscious, but now, when it was no longer there? She wondered how she had ever been able to ignore the sound of her own heartbeats.

It was so silent inside her. So calm. No longer did her heart suddenly rush nervously or out of uncertainty. No longer did it make her hands shake, or her steps stumble. Now when she moved, it was with a new balance and control. She didn't feel nervous or uncertain. Like she was walking around with a constant rapidly beating heart and racing pulse. Not anymore, it was just, quiet. At first, it had bothered her, every sound was so amplified. And she felt so... Unnatural.

But not now. Not when she was walking through the house on steps so light they could barely be heard. Now, it was making her smile. This was actually kind of fun. Not feeling so anxious and wind up all the time. To feel so physically in control. Giggling she stopped by the entrance and tilted her head to the side listening. She could hear so much more now. Everything. From people walking all around the house, items being shuffled to low conversations. Focusing a bit more she noticed that even her sense of smell was better. Who needed eyes when everything was speaking to her in so many other ways?

Suddenly a soft faint smell reached her, making her pause and turn around trying to figure out what it was. It took her a minute until she realized it was the flowers in the greenhouse. Now layered with different smells of dirt and leaves. A moment later she was heading out there. Skipping through the gardens without a shadow of a doubt where she was going. Everything from smell to sound painting a strong vivid picture in her mind as the wind played with her dress. It only took a few minutes and she was there. Pushing the door open she entered and grinned as the scents mixed and hit her.

Stopping right inside she laughed as she just enjoyed the scent for a few moments, she could definitely get used to this.

With an excited smile on her lips, she moved closer and leaned down to get a better whiff of the singular flower. But as soon as she did, the scent stopped. Confused she moved to the next and the same happened. Leaning up again she reached out her hand to check on the flower, and the moment her fingers brushed the flower, she felt it crumble to dust.

"Que se passe-t-il..?"

It took about five more flowers until she realized what was going on. The moment she got near a plant, it withered and died. Refusing to believe it, she kept walking to the plants. Kept trying and trying, until every plant in the greenhouse except one was dead and withered around her. The last one she kept a safe distance from, just far enough away for it to keep living despite her presence. She felt hollow. Crushed. All her life Valerie had loved everything living. From people to plants. And now, just her proximity was killing. Then she felt something new, something she had not felt before.

Her hands closed into fists hanging down her sides, nails digging into her hands. Jaws locking tight together as this sudden rage was building in her gut. She couldn't pinpoint it. But never before had she felt like literally start crushing things around her. The smell of the flower in front of her taunting her as she felt the seething rage demand her attention.

"Come on... Do it. Wouldn't it feel great to just... Let go? To let out some of that steam you have been harbouring for all these years? And why shouldn't you? Haven't you been a good girl far too long? Haven't you deserved to throw a fit just once in your life?"

She had no idea where the thoughts and ideas came from. But they were right. And in a few quick steps, she had grabbed the offending plant, spun around and thrown the plant with pot and all through one of the glass plates of the greenhouse with a furious growl. Glass shattered around her and she could feel the shards cut her skin. But she didn't care. Still, uncharacteristically furious at the plants for dying around her, she grabbed another, and another, throwing them through the glass with new growls.



((Que se passe-t-il..? = What is going on?))
 

Marcus Valerian

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She would miss the silence.

Even in dreamless sleep, that temporary torpor state where the vampire took to his 'bed' at dawn, the silence would elude him. Marcus remembered it well, his very first time laying his head down to rest, the day following his embrace. It was listless and frustrating and intense. He could hear the insects creeping about, he could make out human conversations in the flat above him and across the walls adjacent to his abode. Would it always be this way? Perhaps he would get used to it, in time. But for now, the fledgling would have to grin and bear it. It would be no different for Valerie, he surmised coldly, suddenly confident that the young woman could take it all in stride.

But could she? The experience was bracing; it was like getting reborn into a new life; a life of death and blood.

The initial transition would not be too bad, perhaps? Maybe she would be so focused on everything else happening inside her, the changes in her own body - that she would not focus so much on the outside world trying to overwhelm her senses - with its sounds and flavors and smells. Marcus' transition was not so different than Valerie's own. He awoke on the cold floor of a dark church chapel... his clothing stained with blood that pooled in spurts on the floor. He was weak and hungry. And the first comforting thing he laid eyes on, was the soothing deluge of shadows. They would be the Lasombra's constant companions, his eternal friends. And now they would be Valerie's, as well.

Death would touch her, surround her, but never surrender to her, nor she to it. If she was careful.

After they had arrived at The Crown, Marcus silently left her side, indicating with a gesture of open palms that everything here was now hers. He would let her have some time to explore things on her own, to feel things... on her own. He was convinced his bride would not go far and he would find her whenever he chose to do so. Their bond was now unbreakable; he could feel her blood singing with his, in gentle harmony. Soon, it would laugh. Soon... it would scream.

Having reached his office, Marcus closed the door and unbuttoned his jacket, shrugging it off his shoulders and tossing it across the desk. He did the same with his bow-tie, loosening it and throwing it onto the jacket, unbuttoning the neckline of his shirt. Sun would be rising in a couple of hours, he realized grimly, shrugging to himself. So much for the 'wedding night'... Best make good use of the time they had, then!

Walking up to the window, the Lasombra pulled the heavy crimson velvet back, taking a curious glance outside. Already, he could feel Valerie's presence diminishing, as if she were walking away. And so she was, his sharp black eyes noted, catching a glimpse of a sexy knit dress offsetting a pair of slim, long legs. But it was the scent of her blood that drew him the most. He could pick it out from a legion of females, blindfolded and bound...

Valerie was heading for the greenhouse. She was unusually fond of the place; Marcus knew that many of the beautiful scents of plants grown in it had always soothed her troubled mind. Would the mortal feelings still linger? He paused at the window, his eyes transfixed on the greenhouse, as if waiting for something. At first, he detected no change in Valerie's surroundings, but after a while... Unmistakable sounds of shattered glass reached his ears, even from some distance away. Vampire senses never let him down, and the older he got, the more sensitive to sound he became. In fact, all his senses were ridiculously heightened. And he could sense that the broken glass came from Valerie's direct action against something. Disappointment? Frustration? Rage?

Without a moment's hesitation, Marcus found himself outside. He did not even remember getting downstairs, but his ears registered the dull thud of the front double doors he threw open in post-haste. Very likely he broke the front handles but those were easily replaced. Right now, all he cared about was his Bride. Flashes of crisp white tuxedo shirt accentuated brief pauses in movement until he found himself standing behind her, in the greenhouse. His arms instinctively reached out to take her shoulders, but did not touch her, merely hung there for a moment.

"I sense you have questions, bella...I can help?"

Not expecting an immediate answer given the unstable nature of her mood, Marcus let his arms fall to his sides and glanced at the broken glass and pottery pieces strewn about in a chaotic, restless pattern. Valerie was unhappy, confused, irate. Had he made the mistake of turning her? Even now, she was probably hating him for it. Missing her fragile humanity with every ounce of her transformed being. She would miss the flowers, and the trees... he thought, noting the faded plants she did not manage to do away with just yet. She would miss being able to touch them, to feel the living breath pulsating from every stem, leaf and petal.

She would miss her own fleeting heartbeat. And most of all...

...she would miss the silence.
 

Valerie Modeste

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Her hand wrapped around another plant and threw it with all her might. It felt good. Like she was paying the offending plants back for dying around her. Even the furious screams that tore through her throat was liberating. It felt like she was screaming for so much. For everything that had happened in her life before coming here. For all that had happened after, and for everything she had buried. But most of all it felt like she was tapping into a deeper understanding. That she had no idea what she had agreed to.

She was about to throw another one. To again hear that cathartic sound of glass shattering when she heard him enter the greenhouse. Instantly she knew who it was. It was like her blood was humming this low pleased sound, reaching out for him in a way that she just knew only one person could do. Still holding the plant, her arms slowly lowered, no longer looking like she would throw it across the room. As if just his presence was calming her. She could feel how he almost touched her, but stopped just to put his hands down again. Making her wonder if he thought she would attack him.

It still felt like the anger she had felt just moments before was vibrating just underneath the surface. Threatening to become the ruling emotion once more.

"What is happening? Why are the flowers dying?"

Of course, she already knew it was her. But she needed him to say it. Needed to have it confirmed that from now on plants would never be able to live around her.

Walking Death...

Dropping the plant in her hand she heard the pot shatter, a short flinch going through her face. Now she just felt bad for having exploded like that, for having no self-control. Tears wanted to press up behind her eyes, making her rub them annoyed. Why did she suddenly want to cry? Her emotions felt like they were jumping between each other. No control, just violent explosions of emotions.

"It feels like I have no control of my emotions... One moment I am happy, the next I am furious, then sad and suddenly thirsty... I feel so confused."

There was a small shake of her head. Like she was trying to physically shake it off and start over before she lifted her hands like she was trying to look at them. She knew that normally they would be trembling about now. And yet, they were completely still as she flexed her fingers.
 
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Marcus Valerian

Autarch of Erebos
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Marcus waited patiently until the kinetic momentum subsided. Only then would he actually react to anything Valerie would have said and done. She obviously had some issues with the plants that had to be dealt with. Granted, the plants in Valerie's immediate vicinity seemed to be dying or dead already. The Lasombra was not about to delve into the reasons for either, knowing full well that some Kindred - when embraced - had to put up with certain 'abnormalities' when first coming in touch with their environment. These said 'abnormalities' could be temporary, although more often than not they would become permanent companions. Either way, they were something that Valerie would have to deal with and become accustomed to.

Better now than later. Better late than never. Either way, she had little choice. Just fucking deal with it, will you!?

Expecting his Childe to grab another floral pot or two and start hurling it against some untouched glass, Marcus remained patient and resigned. She would know he was nearby, of course. More so now than ever - when she was a blind mortal - her other senses would have instantly alerted her to his proximity. He could have blanked it, of course, but chose not to. There was no reason to deceive a Fledgling vampire from her Sire's proximity? Or maybe he was simply testing her; seeing how this young Kindred would react to her first encounter of man vs. nature vs. man. Would she trust herself with him??

He heard her murmur and smiled, having expected it. Yes, the flowers were dying. If she lingered all too long, the entire greenhouse would have to be replanted.

"It is a side effect of embracing my world, bella. Don't feel angry toward the plants. Rather, be angry with me - or the world of shadows - or Lilith herself. Don't think Caine could be bothered, so you can skip over him."

As recent as Valerie had been turned into the world of Kindred, Marcus believed her to be quite adept at formulating her current feelings and abilities. Far more so than he recalled Laetita doing, the first night she rose from the Embrace. All the latter wanted, was to sink her fangs in something warm and living; little did she care about what she sensed at the time, outside of the ever-present hunger...

"Leave the plants and come with me, Valerie." Marcus breathed across to his confounded Bride, though she would have heard him as loud as if he were right next to her ear. "As your maker... I command you..."
 

Valerie Modeste

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Rather, be angry with me ...

As if she could be. She almost smiled at that. There were many things she could be angry with, but him? No, she was not angry with him for turning her. Feeling stupid at her tantrum at the plants she again shook her head. This wasn't her. She didn't explode like this, not at things that did not deserve it. As a natural reaction, she took a deep breath, only to almost smile at how strange that now felt. It still did the trick, a revenant of her mortal habits, but she could feel the muscle not needing it. Like her lungs had frozen and were now being forced to move, which in a way they were.

"I am not angry with you Ma Cherie. I am sorry, I shouldn't have..."

Stopping herself she heard him speak again. And this time, she actually smiled. There was no need for him to command her. Just at the request for her to follow him, she felt how hard it was denying him. Was this her life now? To always feel the pull he had on her, several times over what she had already felt when a human?

Nodding softly she turned to where she knew he was and took a step closer.

"Where are we going?"

She felt herself calm down to her usual composed self. Okay, so there were sides to her new life that she would have to deal with. Dying plants being one of them, and apparently having a shorter fuse then she had before. All things she could deal with. Things she would have to deal with. She refused to let these small things bring her down. So taking the sorrow she felt that the plants had died, she buried it deep down and smiled at Marcus.
 

Marcus Valerian

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Oddly enough, his Bride seemed contemplative rather than livid. Not that he would mind seeing her in an agitated state; in fact, Marcus thought he might rather have enjoyed it... But perhaps the circumstances of being surrounded by wilting flowers alone were not nearly enough to get Valerie at her most irate? Undoubtedly she would encounter worse states of...affairs as her new unlife continued. They had time. In fact - they had eternity...

Marcus smirked, noting the mortal reflex still alive and well. "Shouldn't have what, exactly? Have no worries over this, bella. Pots can be replaced and flowers regrown. And I must admit, they were a somewhat refreshing sight - and clear proof that my Bride is capable of more volatile emotions. I was starting to wonder--" Cutting off the clear tease, he pulled out his phone and quickly alerted a member of the staff to the situation, asking them to get out here and clean up the mess. Last thing he needed was for Valerie to walk on broken glass. She may have become immortal, but she could still bleed.

"Did you hear that pull in my voice? The way it compels even a fellow Kindred to heed its command? That was but an example of things I will teach you in the days to come. As a fledgling vampire, you are like a human newborn. There is much for you to learn and hopefully just as much to enjoy. The abilities our kind possess can be quite formidable. And most helpful in getting out of tight spots or unsavory situations. I want you to feel safer than ever before, Valerie - even if I am not here to assist you - understand?"

He was not trying to push her around but merely to demonstrate. Fully aware that it may not have come across that way when it was first presented to Valerie, Marcus felt the need to provide an explanation for issuing an order toward his Bride.

"Some of these flowers can perhaps, be saved," he mused in an afterthought, watching her face carefully. "Do not feel regret for them or anything else that withers away or perishes suddenly? Everything always comes back....in its changed form."

Deeming that reassurance to be sufficient, the Lasombra took up her palm and brought it to his mouth for a soft kiss. Her flesh was so cool to the touch, just like his... Without hesitation, he led her down a well-lit path, intending to take a pleasant evening stroll to soothe his Bride's frayed nerves.

"Just taking a walk, bella. Try to use your other senses as we move along to see if you can pick out any scents or sounds amidst our movement and conversation. They should have become intensely heightened after the Embrace. And soon, you will come to realize that you do not even need your eyesight to guide you."
 
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Valerie Modeste

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Casting a look at the direction she knew he was she huffed amused. Her gaze trying to be stern, like she was telling him not to tease her about this. But it quickly disappeared to a smile. It had taken her a moment to realize it, but she didn't really feel guilty about having destroyed the greenhouse. Her reaction had just been another reminiscent of her mortal days. Lasting only as long as it took her to notice the obvious lack of feeling guilty. Deciding not to dwell on things that would just confuse her she instead focused on what Marcus was doing.

It took her a moment to actually realize he was speaking on the phone. She hadn't noticed before now how close she had been standing. But now the smell of his cologne had managed to reach her. It was a smell she was used to and had come to enjoy very much. Only that tonight the same smell set off a flash of memories. Vivid images of the night before and the taste of blood in her mouth.

When he spoke to her again she was far away in her own mind. She had thought it would scare her, to feel the itch of fangs wanting to poke through her gums. Her mind locking on to a single thought with uncanny strength. But instead, there was a strange curiosity. It took her a minute to be able to push the thought out of her mind enough to hear what he was saying to her.

"I can learn to do that?"

The thought excited her. Yes, she was used to gifts, certain abilities. But they had never felt useful in any way for her. This on the other hand. It sounded like fun. Hearing him say he wanted her safe even when he was not around made her smile. It still warmed her that he cared.

"I think you worry too much Ma Cherie. I live in a huge mansion, with guards and people around me at all times. And now? I don't even feel like sneaking out for hidden strolls in the sun anymore, don't think it would be nice for my complexion."

Shrugging good-naturedly she giggled. It had hit her earlier, that sunlight would from now on kill her. And it hadn't bothered her as much as she thought it would. Then the flowers dying had bothered her a lot more... Feeling the way he took her hand and kissed her palm she turned her head and smiled at him, a short and sweet smile. Caressing his cheek with her fingers she noticed that the difference in temperature was no longer there. Her fingers lingered a moment longer before she let him pull her away from the greenhouse.

"Do as you want Cherie. I won't be coming here anymore."

Her tone of voice was different than normal. It was colder, more to the point. There was no sorrow over the plants anymore or guilt about having ruined the space. It was just matter of factly. She wouldn't be going here anymore. Hooking her arm in his she followed him out of the building and back to strolling through the grounds surrounding. Attentively she listened to him speak and only responded with small nods. It was all the things she had noticed. Especially how much more she could hear now. For a few moments while they walked she just focused on everything around her before she responded.

"I can hear the guards talking... They have snuck out for a break around the other side of the house..." A soft smile spreading over her lips at the sheer enjoyment of being able to hear so much more. "I can smell every single plant around us, mixed with the dirt and minerals in the air... I even think it might rain later." Giggling she looked up at Marcus. "I can even hear..."

Whatever she had heard it made her pause, her grip on his arm dropping as she cocked her head to the side and focused. She wasn't sure where it was coming from. But it had to be one of Gabriel's human escorts. It was faint, but the heartbeat of the person strong enough for her to know instantly what it was and where it was coming from. Her fingers twitched, curling together to fists as she felt her entire body wanting to attack. Gasping softly she felt her fangs grow in her mouth. "Heartbeat..."

She finished her sentence with a whisper before she without thinking headed the direction of the sound.
 
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Marcus Valerian

Autarch of Erebos
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"Indeed you can. I have a feeling you will enjoy your new life. In time, you will learn to tolerate the absence of the sun on your face, although there are ways to bypass that, also. There is more than one way to skin a cat. Speaking of which, would you want one? A pet, that is." It had never crossed Valerian's mind that she might want to eat it at some point; he asked out of respect for her former self. "Someone to always be with you even when I cannot be? A dog perhaps?" Not that she required a guard dog, he thought, but having an animal could not hurt?

Thinking back to her comment about the sun, he nodded, squeezing her hand lightly. "I have thought about how much you used to say you loved the sunshine and while you may not be able to take in a tan while strolling through our beautiful downtown at noon, there are still ways that are open to us - to enjoy it." Indeed, the special UV-shielded glass came with a hefty price tag, but Imogen always did excellent work, even on the side. Though focused on cybernetics, they had plenty of talented engineers that specialized in many other areas - and the side projects they did for Marcus were nothing short of brilliant.

"You remember that penthouse where you spent your very first night with me? After you were taken from the street? I had very special glass installed there. You can look out, but the sun cannot penetrate within. So you can still look at it, even feel some scant heat off it on your face, without becoming a pile of ashes..."

A strange feeling of ...almost regret swept over him as Marcus heard Valerie say she would not come to the greenhouse anymore. Surely, there was something that could be done for that? In the meantime, he would adhere to her wishes. "As you like, bella. Your comfort is my comfort." His mind flew over the memories of moments she had spent at the greenhouse... It was the one place on these grounds, she loved, he thought. The manor had been a gilded cage. The sound of Valerie's voice snapped him out of the somber reverie and he smiled automatically, watching her describe what she was hearing and smelling.

"Ah, yes. You will be hearing and smelling and feeling things like you've never done so before. At first, it's a wonder to experience - but later, it will become a pure reflex, an extension of yourself you will barely pay attention to. Not like you are now, at any rate." Lifting her palm still in his, Marcus brought it to his mouth for a cool yet soulful kiss. She had just heard her first mortal heartbeat.... and his eyes grew crimson and black at the mere idea of it, though he whispered it to his Bride nonetheless...

"Would you like to hunt the Kine?"

Come to think of it, the hunger in her awakened fresh hunger, in him. As for the escort? Easily replaced. Marcus would reimburse Gabriel for it later, even though he'd still owe man a favor. No matter. Nothing would outweigh the happiness of his new Bride.

Not ever.
 
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Valerie Modeste

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As she listened to him talk she gently squeezed his arm. It warmed her to hear how he was trying to show her that she did not have to give up many of the things she had loved as a human. But to her own surprise, she again realized that her emotions had changed. Right now, she did not care that she would never feel sunshine on her skin again. After all, all the things she had given up, would make way for all the new things she would be experiencing. For her to find new things to love, new places to make her own. So right now, in the light of rational thinking, the things she had given up did not seem like that big losses.

Though, she would consider getting a pet. Maybe a cat? "I will think of it. Thank you."

But none of that was important to her right now. Not when the sound of someone else's heartbeat was thumping in her ears. Distracted she felt how Marcus placed a kiss on her palm. Pulling enough at her focus to make her turn her head a bit as he whispered to her. Hearing what he said her head twitched a bit as it turned back towards the direction of the heartbeat. It was coming closer now. Most likely moving out of the house.

"Yes."

The reply was out before she could ever think it through. It was pure instinct. And honestly, this scared her a bit. She had always hated hurting others. Stayed away from it as much as she could, and now? Now she could feel the urge to tear out a living creature's throat like a living thing inside her. And the more she focused on it, the less guilty she felt about it.

"Can I?"

One of her hands were still holding Marcus's after he had kissed it. And now it twitched once in excitement while she waited for him to confirm that she was allowed. The moment he did she let go of his hand and began moving slowly between the trees. She had thought it would be harder to locate the person without her sight. But she realized that her sense of smell and sound was more than enough for her to go after. It only took a few minutes before she stopped. Her hands on a tree she was leaning against it as she sniffed the air. Now she could even hear the steps of the human in front of her on the pathway away from the manor.

Again she moved on instinct. Her entire body seemed to be focused on the human. Sounds and smells telling her exactly when she should move and where. Before she really knew what had happened she had moved out from between the trees and were standing right in front of the human. A surprised gasp came from the woman, who had clearly not seen her come closer.

"I am sorry for this."

She wasn't really sorry. It was nothing personal to the woman. She had simply been at the wrong place to the wrong time. And in a way, it felt polite to apologize for it, even as she moved as fast as she could and grabbed the human. Not having complete control of what she was doing they ended up on the ground with Valerie sitting on top of the woman with a grip around her throat, squeezing it so no sound could come out. A growling sound she had never heard herself make before escaped as she nuzzled the woman's throat. The smell of her blood was intoxicating as she without any more wait bit into the soft flesh with a hungry moan.

It was beyond anything she had ever felt. She had thought that it would feel the same as when Marcus had bitten her. But that felt almost muted to the intensity of what she felt now. Growling again she bit deeper, wanting more of the blood to fill her mouth as she drank greedily.
 
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Marcus Valerian

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Marcus nodded at Valerie's initial assent. It would be interesting to see her maintain a pet - especially as a vampire. If the animal survived a week, he or she would likely be a keeper. Even so, that seemed to be a secondary concern. His Bride was focused on the matter at hand: a beating heart of a mortal specimen. She wanted the blood that fueled that heartbeat, that much was clear - not just from her words, but from her entire demeanor - as she stiffened her frame, poised to strike. She was acting on a primal Kindred instinct, this much he knew.

Her hand was still holding his, with the other one withdrawing. He could sense the subtle twitch of excitement passing through that appendage as he nodded his permission for her to do as she wanted. Not that she needed it, mind you. Maybe all he meant for it to be, was a confirmation of his and her intentions being one. Marcus wanted to see her hunt; he wanted to join her once the hunt was complete.

Moments later, he stood and watched as Valerie began to move, acting upon her primal need to feed... until her quarry was firmly within her grasp.

I am sorry for this.

Marcus heard the gasp and grimaced, knowing it was simply residue from his Bride's mortal days. It would take time to disintegrate, but eventually it would dissipate like every other mortal instinct she's ever had. He let the reflex linger for a second, then rushed the mortal female just after his bride had nabbed her, rendering the prey defenseless. Seated atop the human, Valerie's hands encircled the latter's neck like vice, preventing any outcome of sound. Pleasantly surprised, Marcus smiled in spite of himself. His Bride was every bit the gem he had envisioned; not a diamond in the rough, but the perfect specimen - soon to come into her own.

In a moment, the Lasombra Ancient could sense the Kine blood, seeping free from the opening in her slender neck. Soon enough, Marcus would be next to the victim, waiting for his lover to take her fill of the vessel, before joining her in the communion of blood...
 
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Valerie Modeste

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She was drinking too fast and she knew it. The blood filling her mouth faster then she could swallow it, making small trails escape the corners of her mouth. But she didn't care. The woman underneath her tasted amazing, and it was the only thought in her mind. Along with the intense feeling of pleasure that was filling her body. She could feel how her body moved of its own, her hips grinding against the body that was slowly going limp under her. For a moment she expected to feel the usual telltale signs of arousal. But nothing happened.

Confusion spread over her face as her feeding slowed. She did not let go of the human yet, the need for blood stronger than her confusion. Still, she felt the revenants of her human emotions in the back of her mind. Seeking something in the heat of the moment. So with her free hand, she reached out for Marcus who she could feel right next to her. Her hand found his and held it as a myriad of emotions ran through her mind, excitement slowly winning over the rest.

Moments later she broke free from the human and sat up. Her mouth slightly open and her eyes closed as she licked her fangs, a slight panting coming from her as she tried to calm down. She wanted more. More blood, more of the pleasure, more of Marcus and more of the thrill she had felt hunting down the human. Especially with the sound of the weakening heartbeat in her ears.

Turning to Marcus she couldn't help but smile as she lifted his hand and kissed it gently. She knew she should feel bad about it. After all, she had just attacked an innocent woman who had done nothing to her. But she didn't care. The only thing she cared about was how much she had enjoyed it, and how grateful she felt that Marcus had shown her this. Letting go of the human she leaned closer to him and placed several small kisses along the inside of his wrist.

"Do you want to taste?..."

Reaching out she laid her free hand on his cheek and with blood still on her lips she placed a teasing kiss on his lips.
 
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There was intense pleasure in Valerian's dark eyes as his pupils turned crimson watching Valerie take her fill of the Kine's sweet, sweet blood. He did not partake in the feast, wanting to savor this moment instead, feeling the passion in Valerie's movements and perusing every shifting muscle as she groped and squeezed and lapped up the blood. There was even an inkling of sexual? arousal, although he expected that. She was so new to all of this. Her reactions would mix, Kindred and formerly Kine, until the mortal reflexes would start ebbing away. Right now, it seemed the Beast had found Valerie and was making a seductive introduction to Valerian's world.

A world of darkness.

As Valerie's hand found its way to his, Marcus clasped it and squeezed, reassuring her without saying a word. He could feel the passion coursing through the Fledgling's veins, the transformation of blood into vitae taking place. He could hear the Kine's heartbeat waning....slowing. He did not expect the woman to survive. Most newly Embraced vampires rarely showed restraint when feeding. The Lasombra did not care, either way - a loss of a single life was easily reimbursed.

When the Childe asked him (amidst some distracting kisses), whether he wanted to sample the Kine, Marcus found it hard to resist. It was a miracle he had not Frenzied until now. So without wasting another moment, he placed a soft kiss inside Valerie's palm before lunging at the mortal, whose breaths were becoming more and more shallow. His fangs broke the skin of her upper arm, garnet liquid cascading down the slender appendage before falling into the grass. When he finally pulled away, several seconds later, the Lasombra's pallid features seemed to have gained vitality, although the latter was all too brief and would not last long.

Releasing the woman, he turned back to Valerie, rising to his feet as the corpse rolled onto the grass with a dull thud. "Shall we retire?" He reached for his Bride's hand, offering to help her to her feet. Someone would be along shortly to clean up the mess they left behind. Marcus would make sure of it. Free hand moved with innate subtlety and grace, making a sign of the cross in the direction of the fallen victim.

Requiescat in pace...
 
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It thrilled her that Marcus wanted to join her. The kiss to her palm making her smile as she waited for him to move. And just moments later she could hear the breaking of skin and smell fresh blood. Sitting still she felt how the body weakly tried to move as the breaths grew shallow. Her heart was desperately trying to pump blood through her veins, doing it's best to keep the body alive. But it was no use and soon the heartbeat completely stopped.

In the wake of the dying heartbeat, Valerie caught herself thinking how silent it was again. The dull thud of the body hitting the grass was the last sound the mortal body would ever make. And it was her doing. Sure, she hadn't technically been the one to kill the woman. But if she hadn't caught the sound of the heartbeat, Marcus wouldn't have attacked her. If Valerie hadn't been outside that night, the woman would have been on her way to whatever she was doing. Instead of now laying lifelessly in the grass.

She could even smell it. How death was taking over the body. Soon it would be rotting and all because of her.

When Marcus spoke she didn't answer at first. The full weight of what she had done slowly getting to her. But after another moment of just sitting there, she slowly nodded. "Yes..."
Taking his hand she got back on her feet, careful as not to touch the body. "I... I killed her." It wasn't said in a regretful tone of voice, more one of confusion as her brows knitted together in an expression that matched. Somehow she had managed to tell herself that she wouldn't lose control, that because she was prepared, knew it would come. That she would be different.

And yet. At the first sound of a heartbeat, she hadn't been able to stop. Her body had moved on its own, guided by an instinct she could never have been prepared for. And she had liked it. Loved it actually. The first taste of the woman's blood had been better than anything she had ever felt before. And she had never felt so connected to another being as when Marcus had decided to join her.

"Shouldn't I feel guilty? Sorry for ending her life? I just feel... Empowered. I can feel my brain telling me I should feel bad for wanting to do it again, but I don't." Rubbing her forehead she looked even more confused as she kept talking. "It's like having the memory of a feeling but not being able to feel it properly. Like waring emotions inside me. One telling me I should be horrified the other begging me to do it again... Why am I feeling like this?"
Clutching Marcus's hand she lifted her confused face, looking to him for answers to the turmoil that was happening inside her.
 

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"Guilt... remorse... those come naturally to you now, because you are so new to what you have become. That will change, in time. With each passing night, you will find yourself drifting farther and farther away from this... melancholy."

Quiet, unnaturally gentle steps moved Marcus toward the manor as he guided his Bride away from the corpse and toward their haven: a place of safety and a promise of sublime bliss. Yesterday, they had only the present... Now, they had eternity.

"Be patient, bella. Not everything can be explained away - some things just have to be FELT - and while you feel, you must learn to let yourself go. As Kindred, our emotions are heightened beyond what you were used to experiencing. The memory you feel is fed by nostalgia. And the voice that urges you to hunt and drink again, is the inner struggle of every Kindred. None of us are exempt from the power of the Beast. The Beast represents the monster in you, wanting true freedom - no holds barred. But you can resist this urge to kill, to Frenzy... This is where your willpower comes in. As vampires, we are not without our virtues. We are not merely creatures of darkness, flat and shallow and uninspiring. To some extent, we all possess conscience, self-control and courage. Our convictions and instinct flow from within, just as they do from our former Mortal selves."

Hoping he was not flooding her mind with too much information, Marcus fell silent as they stepped into the foyer. Turning, the Lasombra took his Bride's hands in his and pulled her close, touching his frigid lips to the chilly satin of Valerie's forehead.
 
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Just listening to Marcus explain what was happening inside her was comforting. And it made her realize how dependent she now had become of him. From now on she would always look to him for answers to everything she could not explain on her own. He would be her guide in this new strange world she had become a part of. As they walked she hooked her arm in his, and leaned closer so she was hugging his arm with a soft sigh.

"There is so much I need to learn. So many new things to get adjusted to. I am so silly, I thought because I knew this would be coming, that I would be more prepared. And the first thing I do is hunt down and kill a person."

Shaking her head softly she let out a wry chuckle. She had been so wrong. But moments later they were inside the safety of their own home and he was pulling her close. Feeling the press of lips against her forehead she smiled and wrapped her arms around him before lifting her face so he could see her smile again.

"I can be patient. After all... I have eternity to learn all this right?"

Pulling one of her arms free from around his waist, she reached up and laid her hand against his cheek. It was still so strange to her that there was no longer any temperature difference between them. Even his skin felt different against her hand now. Brushing her thumb over his lower lip she caught a smidge of blood that had escaped him earlier. Wiping it off she then lowered her thumb to her mouth and sucked away the blood with a smile.

"So my King... Anything else you wanna show your Bride on her first night as a vampire?"
 

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"Mortal or Vampire, we are always in a perpetual state of growth. Even in death, we learn what it feels like - to pass on. Certainly, we cannot share this particular insight with anyone afterwards, but we still learn - and while it is the last thing we experience, I have a feeling there might be more after that - although certainly not in our current state," Marcus tapped lightly on her wrist, indicating he was referring to their physical bodies. "Do you believe in an afterlife? I do. It seems I always have. I have no proof of it, but I can't shake the feeling that there is more to all of this than experiencing the here and now."

Her former human reactions - sighing, needing to feel close - were not lost on him. The Lasombra filed all these, and other observations, in his memory for future considerations as he listened to his Bride express herself. "Funny thing. Even if you had mentally prepared yourself for this - I doubt it would make one shred of difference," he murmured, leaning over to kiss her on the temple.

"While you might consider having to kill someone your first act as a vampire, you will find that guilt does not work us the way it used to, when we were mortal. At first, you will still feel remorse, you will even spend time on thinking up ways to atone for what you've done - or maybe come up with some kind of alternative so you would not have to kill again. Later, you will hardly bother. It will become second nature - a simple instinct, a rite of self-preservation - much like breathing, eating or sex are, to our former selves."

Leading them both up the main staircase, Marcus waved away the approaching servants. He wanted to be alone with his Bride, his Childe, his forever companion. Tonight of all nights, he needed her presence more than ever - as a veiled memory of Laetitia Sforza crept into his mind and stared back at him with empty, soulless eyes. He almost felt a pang of guilt tearing at his heart, reminding him of his cool indifference to Letty in what turned out to be, the final moments of her life. In a way, it was his fault that she died...

Valerie's gentle touch to his face made him change focus - bash unpleasant thoughts away. He watched as she wiped a speckle of blood off his mouth and licked it with a smile of obvious delight. Her question brought a smirk to otherwise austere features.

"I was about to ask if you had any requests, my little queen. The night is yours - ask of me what you will - and you shall duly receive."
 

Valerie Modeste

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Do you believe in an afterlife?

The question made her snort amused. "I am a gipsy, of course, I believe in an afterlife. It might not be the afterlife of Christianity or other religions. But Gipsies believe that the souls of the ancestors stay with us. They watch over us, and we communicate with them through Tarot and other means."

She thought about what he said as they moved up the stairs. About how everything was in a constant state of learning, how he didn't think she could have prepared herself and how guilt wouldn't bother her forever. Her brows knitted together, only paused for a moment by the gentle kiss to her temple, before it was back. Guilt. Was that really such a bad thing to lose?

It was an emotion that had been bothering her for so long she couldn't remember any time where she hadn't felt guilty about existing. Always worrying about using her powers, wondering when she would have to choose between insanity and someone else's life. And now, not only did her sanity depend on her killing, her life did. And this she had chosen herself. She might not have asked for it, but she couldn't lie and say she had not been warned what would happen by getting close to Marcus. Still, she had kept going.


"Atone... I was a killer long before you made me like you. Judge, jury and executioner, remember? If killing low lives sated my consciousness before, why should now be any different? The only difference now will be that I drain them, then I take the Ephemera before they are dead. I guess, what I am trying to say is, the sooner I get over the residual feelings of guilt, the better I will be off."

Good girl. Finally! Some sense in that pretty little head of yours. I thought you would never stop your incessant whining.

There was this strange moment as she decided that she had to get over her guilt. That it had no room in her new life, and really, never had had room in her old. Where it was like she could feel small pieces of herself fall away, like when an artist chipped off pieces of marble from a statue. It was a strange feeling, one she was not sure if she enjoyed. But it was soon pushed out of her mind as she heard him answer her question with a question of his own.

"Little queen? Careful now Ma Cherie, or I will start demanding crowns and jewels."

Taking a moment to think it through, she wondered what she wanted on her first night. She was feeling invigorated from the feeding, and was honestly excited to know what else there was to her new life. Letting go of him she danced a few steps away, her back now to him. Clearly in a good mood and excited about something as she tapped her lip thinking. Finally having decided she turned back to him. Her hands clasped on her back as she smiled at him. There was an ease to her steps now as she moved, and she loved it. No more racing heart, no more shaking limbs hindering her balance or making her second guess her steps. For a girl who had lived all her life afraid of moving. It was an incredible relief.

"I wanna know more about my new life. Like, I have heard talk about different kinds of vampires. Like Elena and Gabriel, they are Toreador, right? What are we? And you said I would be able to do things, I want you to show me."


 
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I am a gypsy, of course I believe...

Marcus led her into his bedchamber, realizing he had hardly considered whether to keep this room for the two of them, or give Valerie the liberty to choose her own. As Kindred, they were hardly expected to sleep 'together' in any sense of the word. As in, they could - of course - but what would be the reason, other than simple geography? Being near one another made them more (or less) vulnerable, depending on circumstances. Well, he would ask her about that in a moment. For right now, it was more important to support the conversation and not offend his new Bride. That, and his innate breeding as a Lasombra forbade rudeness. Elegance and efficiency in all things, the Beast reminded him curtly. Marcus found himself attuned both to the Beast, and his particular point.

"Ridiculous," the Autarch remarked with a subtle shake of his head as Valerie referred to herself as a killer. "I prefer to think that you were - and continue to be - a survivor. I don't see a feral animal, such as a lion - for instance - as a killer? Certainly, technically, it is true. But a lion does not kill arbitrarily, on a whim. It kills because it needs to eat. It is simply about the survival of the fittest. It comes down to him, or his prey. Would you willingly give up your life, your existence - and starve yourself to death so that some other creature might live? If you are that lion, mark me: if you do not get the gazelle, another lion will."

Feeling guilt or remorse was something Marcus had not experienced for several centuries now. So it was hardly odd that while his first Childe's death struck him as a hammer, evoking rage and awakening vengeance - he did not feel sorrow at her passing. Laetitia was her own creation. He had learned to let go of her many decades ago. Yes, her death was a loss to Erebos, but he would turn it around and make it serve a much greater purpose. Marcus could now make his war on The Circle without hesitation. They had destroyed his Childe and now he would destroy Maledictus - with his new and much beloved queen, by his side.

"Crowns and jewels, you say?" He smiled thoughtfully, tapping his chin with a long, white finger. "Demand away, my little queen. I shall shower you with the finest gemstones and the most precious metals this earth has ever produced. And you know I always mean what I say, so be careful what you ask for.... as you will definitely receive it."

Dark gaze devoured her as she took a few dancing steps away from him, clearly thinking about his question. Her new life had endowed the young woman with beguiling, unnatural grace - so he felt even more drawn to her, than before. It surprised him, not expecting it. In fact, he thought to grow bored and detached very quickly, as he had done with Laetitia. Strange. Was he truly capable of love... after all?

"You want to know about your new life? Then make yourself comfortable, bella, while the fire gets started."

Pressing one of the buttons on the wall mounted console near the door, Marcus waited a moment. When one of the staff arrived, he briefly gestured to the ornate fireplace and took several steps back, toward the bed. Once the fireplace was lit and the footman vacated the chamber closing the door behind him, the Lasombra turned to Valerie and waited for her to get settled before he too, joined her in comfort and relative warmth that was now beginning to permeate the room...
 

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Would she starve herself so another may live? Someone, that in this town of theirs would only get a small reprieve from death before someone else came and took their life? Would she suffer through the madness of wanting more Ephemera, the all-consuming hunger for blood, just to ease her guilt? Once upon a time, maybe. But that kind of mentality felt so far away. Only yesterday she had been a human and thought she would prefer the option of starving. But now? After living at The Crown for so long, building a life, she actually wanted to live. Damned, be the rest.

"No. I wouldn't."

There was a short sad smile on her lips as she said it. But it was gone as soon as it came. There was no point in lingering on it, soon her new life would take over and she would forget to feel guilty about not feeling guilty. In the meantime. She would just bury it. Push it out of her mind and wait for it to pass. Then it was easier to think about Marcus's teasing promise. Having taken a few new dancing steps towards the bed she looked over her shoulder and sent him a mischevious smile. But wisely stayed silent. She had no doubt he meant every word, and she just knew that promise was a gift she shouldn't abuse.

Already on her way to the bed she just nodded when Marcus told her to get comfortable and called for a servant. Her new hearing had to be her favourite thing. Before she had used the repeated clicking of her tongue as a form of echolocation to move. But now? Only the sound of their voices and steps were enough to paint an image of the room in her mind, making it easy for her to move freely around. And only a few steps later she was seated on the bed. Crossing one leg over the other she leaned slightly back with her hands on the mattress. And waited for the servant to leave them before speaking.

"Ready when you are. I am quite excited about learning about our clan. Is there any history I should know? Special gifts or drawbacks? What kind of things can I learn to do?" Having noticed that she had rambled a little she shut herself up and laughed. "Pardon. I should probably just leave it to you to figure out where to start." Clapping the bed beside her she gestured for him to come and sit with her while they talked.
 
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Marcus Valerian

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Shedding the formality of his crisp black silk jacket and relaxing beside his Bride with his shoes resting now adjacent to the side of the bed, Marcus took Valerie's hand up into both of his and held it firmly, one of his thumbs drawing lazy circles on her outer palm. He was about to tell her what he divulged to no one else although now, given the fact that it would be far easier for a visible Childe to slip up on her identity, than a Childe who was invisible (or better yet, dead!), all would have to be revealed soon enough.

"We have been around for thousands of years, this clan. The Lasombra. We are of the true darkness, possessing the ability to command shadows themselves and bend them to our will. You, my dear, do not have to worry about that part." Lifting her hand to bestow a soft kiss, Marcus continued with a voice that was quiet yet distinctly audible. "It takes centuries to learn it, you see - thus, you can focus on the basics and pick up the signature ability much later on," he explained. "It is a unique ability, fiercely guarded by all Lasombra. We do not divulge or share it outside the clan, choosing to keep our greatest strength to ourselves. Each clan has its own glory and ours is born of the shadows."

As he continued to speak, Marcus told Valerie about the Clan first originating somewhere in the Mediterranean region, having established heavy ties to Italy and Rome. It was no surprise then, that he - a former Roman military general - was chosen by a Lasombra long ago. A wealthy and learned man with the natural propensity for drawing up flawless strategy, he made a most visible and scrumptious target.

"We also have heavy historic ties to the Roman Catholic Church. Our oft-used nickname 'Keepers' comes from the story of Cain in Genesis who is known to have said, 'am I my brother's keeper?' when inquired about Abel's whereabouts by his father. A brother he had killed... Also, though this little tidbit might both amuse and unsettle you, my dear - it will have little impact on your behavior in public, given that you are sightless. Members of our clan cast no reflection in mirrors or reflective surfaces. I will attempt, of course - to warn you, should we come anywhere close to such things. Although I highly doubt it will matter in the course of the future... unless, of course - we are attempting to hide our true selves from the mortal kind."

He then proceeded to warn her that the Lasombra's association with darkness left them more vulnerable to the sun and to fire.

"So you see, my dear - there is much to be aware of - and none of it should be taken lightly. As powerful as we are, we are not invulnerable. So I have chosen to tell you first and foremost, about some of the drawbacks to being what you are - to make you aware that there are still dangers lurking out there which may seek to maim or destroy you - and are quite capable of doing both with relative ease....given proper preparation and practice. You see, knowing that a danger exists, is the first step to avoiding it," Marcus smiled, releasing Valerie's hand and placing it gently in his lap. He had been talking for a while and chose to fall silent for a moment to see if his Bride had any questions or concerns about anything he divulged, thus far.
 

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