The second installment of the Haven’s Realm saga visits a New England vampire named Colton Graves. Brought across against his will, he leads an existence of constant bitterness and self-hatred. In the following segment, an unexpected visitor is carried from her home on another planet and deposited in his sitting room.
The transition seemed almost instantaneous. Had there been a bright flash of light, Ki’ara would have believed she’d been taken by their transport system. No sooner had the mist finished closing around her, muffling the sounds around her until even the palace’s shrill alarm was silenced, that it began to thin. She held her breath while new and strange surroundings became visible. She was afraid to move at first—too cautious to do more than take in what her gaze could reach.
The room she found herself in looked far more primitive than any place she’d ever seen or imagined. Tall candle stands provided the only light in the room. She saw no hint of a power source anywhere. And if the décor was enough to quell her spirit, it paled in comparison to the room’s occupants.
They were ordinary enough, she supposed, if not for their strange raiment. The shorter of the two men wore trousers made of a sturdy blue fabric and a black shirt with no lacings which hung too short on his torso. The neck opening hugged his thick, muscular throat. After a moment’s thought, she supposed it stretched over his head. The decoration on the front of the shirt depicted a skull with fire coming out of the eyes, and symbols, words she suspected, in flames above and below the main design. He looked thick muscled and powerful, but in a simplistic, physical way. His light brown hair was cut unfashionably short. Golden brown eyes stared at her in open shock.
The taller of the men made a statement, drawing her attention. His language was unfamiliar, but his tone wasn’t. His anger at her sudden arrival roiled around him like invisible storm clouds. His appearance nearly took her breath away–tall and lean, with bearing which communicated a great deal of power and authority. His black hair was also cut shorter than she’d have liked, but it covered his ears and curled softly at the base of his neck. His eyes were the cold gray of forged steel. He wore black trousers and shiny black shoes. A crisp white shirt that buttoned down the front was tucked trimly into his trousers. The odd collar folded in half around his neck and ended in stiff points. A button and buttonhole at the collar suggested it could be closed at the top.
She studied his face for a moment. Aquiline nose, firm set to his jaw, square face, low brows drawn in a frown. She opened her mind to him, as was the custom of her people when meeting a new race, and attempted to gain knowledge of his language. She knew her error instantly, for his mind was stronger than any she’d before encountered. His power poured through her in a surge of conflicting emotions and thoughts too intense to make sense of. His overwhelming potency shocked her system. Fire erupted in her head. She heard herself scream before she lost consciousness.
When she became aware again, she slowly opened her eyes and found herself lying on the sofa she’d noted out of the corner of her eye. Her cheek rested on brushed velvet of deep burgundy. One of the men had put a covering over her, either to preserve her modesty or keep her warm, and a fire burned beyond her head. She smelled the wood smoke, heard the crackle, and felt its warmth.
She tried to sit up, to take a more dignified posture in the presence of the men she saw watching her intently, but her head protested loudly. With a groan, she pressed a palm to her forehead. The pain increased as the taller man attempted once more to probe her mind. “Please stop,” she begged weakly, holding her other hand, palm forward, toward the man in supplication. “You’re hurting me.”
The shorter man murmured a suggestion to his companion, and the power coursing through her mind ceased. Heaving a relieved sigh, she forced herself upright and wrapped the covering around her shoulders. She sat still with her eyes closed while her head adjusted to the new position, and when she dared open them again to look at her new companions, she saw the taller one sitting in a chair near her, still wearing an angry frown. A twinge of something she didn’t recognize tugged at her heart as she met his gaze. The shorter man watched her from behind the chair with a mixture of awe and concern.
“I need a doctor,” she said, putting a hand to her forehead. “I’m damaged.”
The shorter man posed a question softly to the taller, and he responded negatively. She wished she could open her mind again, but the trauma she’d already suffered had left her abilities too weak to make the attempt. Without treatment, she’d need time to heal the burned out synapses, time she felt certain she didn’t have. “A doctor…” she begged again, cradling her head in her hands in a gesture of pain she hoped they’d understand. “Or something for pain? Please?”
The taller man made a suggestion, sending the shorter one to a cabinet near the pair of double doors behind the chair. He approached her after a few moments carrying a small glass filled with amber-colored liquid. He said something in a coaxing tone and offered her the glass. After she’d glanced from the glass to his eyes and back again, she reluctantly raised her hand to accept his offering. She gave the contents an experimental sniff and looked back at him in question. He made a drinking motion with his hand as if expecting her to understand.
With a frown caused more by her intense headache than studious caution, she tipped the glass to her lips and took one deep swallow, assuming it might be some form of medication. The instant burn that trailed down her throat made her cough so hard she nearly lost her grip. Her head complained loudly at the sudden stress. She realized the beverage was an intoxicant of some sort. Her people didn’t imbibe because it clouded their sensitive mental disciplines. She shook her head carefully as she handed the glass back to the man, hoping to communicate her reluctance to partake, but he eased her hand, glass and all, back to her and spoke in a tone obviously meant to be reassuring.
She reluctantly took another, smaller sip, and as the liquid flowed into her stomach, she felt its relaxing effect. She supposed if she drank the liquor carefully it might ease some of the pressure building inside her skull. Too much and she’d lose control, and, especially in her current situation, losing control could prove fatal. With a satisfied nod, the man started to retreat, but she quickly raised her hand to him. “Come here, if you please,” she asked softly. When he cocked his head in a quizzical manor, she moved her hand to indicate the empty space beside her.
He cast a questioning glance at the taller man, who gave a curt nod, then sat beside her.
“Come closer. I need to touch you,” she said, again in a soft, coaxing tone. She waved her hand toward herself, and when he was near enough, she slowly put her hand on his head. She gave him as gentle a smile as her pain permitted, and closed her eyes to concentrate.
Direct contact with the man allowed her to probe his language center without having to expose herself to the more powerful man’s thoughts. Navigating his mind was surprisingly simple, easier than some species she’d encountered. It took her a few moments to grasp the basics of his language, enough to think she might be able to communicate adequately.
After lowering her hand, she said, “Thank you,” in her newly acquired tongue.
“How did you do that?” he asked her in surprise.
“I took your…language…from your mind. It is a simple task.”
“Not for us, it isn’t,” he said as he rose to his feet.
“Forgive me if I’ve acted out of turn. I am…uncertain…of your culture.”
“No. It’s all right,” he told her as he shot a nervous glance at the other man.
“Perhaps now you can tell us who you are and why you are here,” the taller man said sternly.
She took another sip of the brandy, a good excuse to take a moment to think things through. The rules regarding new contact with alien species were clear: unless technology is at least as advanced as her own, she should proceed with caution. These people couldn’t be familiar with beings from other worlds if they lacked the most basic comfort of electricity.
“I am called Ki’ara,” she told him carefully. “Why I am here is unclear. I…forgive me for my…in-incursion.”
“I believe the word you want is ‘intrusion’,” the taller man stated. “And, yes, you are intruding where you are unwelcome. Still, the fact remains you are here.” He paused to issue a reluctant sigh. “Now I must decide what is to be done with you.”