“Father,” Eliana began as they sat gathered around the small fire Cain made for them. Luluwa sat snuggled close to Cain, who rubbed her pregnant belly.
“Yes, Lily,” Cain said looking in her direction. Lily was the endearing name he sometimes used for Eliana. He affrctionately kissed Luluwa’s hand, while still massaging her growing belly.
“There is a boy in the east village,” she says evenly and Tati covers her mouth and giggled.
“What boy?” Cain demanded, growing concerned. “A human?”
“Yes,” Eliana announced, straightening her shoulders. At now ten years old, Eliana appeared just as old as her twin siblings, Tati and Tayre who were nearing the age of fourteen. But all three of them physically were equal to that of a young adult. Her thick long mane had been sectioned off into small braids that covered her entire head, and extended to well below her waist. She had her mother’s eyes and smile, but stood closer to Cain six foot four height. She was not as shapely as Tati, but instead possessed a long, slender build.
“Who is this boy?” Cain frowned.
“His name is Ramand,” Eliana continued. “I met him once by the river…”
“And you have been spying on him and his family since,” Cain grumbled. “I know…”
“Eliana,” Luluwa began gently. “What do you want with this boy?”
“She wants to turn him,” Tayre declared with a laugh. “She thinks that he will accept the fact that she drinks blood and probably would feed on his next of kin if she had to!”
“Tayre!” Cain snapped. “That is enough!”
Eliana got up from where she sat and in a flash of movement, leaped over the fire and punched Tayre in the face, knocking him backwards. He hissed, baring his fangs, but did not dare meet her challenge.
“Eliana! Sit. Down.” Cain barked, glaring at both of them. “Both of you.”
Eliana glared at her brother a few seconds longer before turning around to adhere to her father’s command. Tayre brushed himself off and returned to his position next to his sister Tati. Lulwa offered Cain a worried look.
“I do not want to feed off of him,” Eliana confessed. “I do not wish to harm his family.”
“How old is this boy?” Cain asked.
“He is nearing the age of a man. His mother wants him to find a bride,” Eliana stated proudly. “I overheard her tell him that the other night.”
“And you,” Cain began carefully. “Want to be his wife?”
“Yes,” Eliana said, looking her father in the eyes.
“Eliana,” Cain sighed, gently moving away from his wife and folding his hands in his lap. “We are not like them.”
“But we can blend in,” Eliana contested. “I can blend in. They will never know what I am – what we are.”
“How? What happens at the first scent of blood?” Cain asked. “You and your siblings have yet to summon enough control even for a tiny scrape.”
“I can practice!”
“And what about the fact that we do not age as they do? Hmmm? Tell me, as your husband changes with time…think of him at twenty five…think of him at sixty…and then think of you at twenty five and sixty. You will remain forever young. How could you hide that?”
Cain’s question left the group in a silence so deep, he looked to his own sorrow for oxygen. How cruel his life was that his family, now had to suffer the other side of the curse that he dared not discuss. He had always feared that his children would fall in love with humans only to find themselves rejected by them or worse, hunted.
“He will love me as I am,” Eliana said sharply. “He will accept me and then…once our children are born, he can become like me.”
Tayre barked out a hard laugh. “You really think that Ramand, a family who herds sheep and goats and prays to the moon for protection will want someone like you as part of their family? They cower at their own shadows!”
“Tayre!” Cain yelled. “Enough!”
“You stupid simpleton,” Eliana hissed. “You are just mad that the only female that would have you is the goat that you mount when –“
“Eliana! Tayre! BE QUIET!” Cain’s bellow echoed into the clearing, silencing the two would be combatants, but a far cry from diffusing the tension that brewed between them.
Cain sucked in several deep breaths, unsure of who was more worthy of his fury. “Tayre, leave. But do not hunt anywhere within a five mile radius of this perimeter.”
Tayre glanced at his twin Tati, who shrugged and looked away, before hopping on his feet. “Fine.”
“And Tayre,” Cain continued, glaring at his son whose fangs slowly came into view. “Do not go anywhere near that family. Am I clear?”
Eliana’s frown deepened at the mere reference to the family she wished to protect. Cain caught the quick glimmer of worry in her eyes when she looked at her brother. Both of them knew what Tayre was capable of.
“Yes father. I will not harm that goat herding, shadow fearing family,” Tayre mumbled as he turned to leave.
Tayre dematerialized into the ether, leaving Cain and Eliana to face off while Luluwa and Tati watched.
“Eliana,” Cain said, struggling to maintain calmness as he looked at his stubborn daughter. “Humanity is not something you or your siblings were born with. You came into this world as you are, a predator. Your impulses, what is natural to you, your mores, the way that you process your environment…death has an entirely different meaning to you than it does to humans. I was human once, or at least for a time I believed that I was. And because of this, I am asking you to think about this: if you care about this boy and his family, like you say you do, you will leave will leave them alone.”
“But I can protect them,” Eliana argued. “I can keep them safe.”
“Eliana, are you aware of what happens when a human is bitten by one of us?” Cain asked. “Nunka, your foolish brother and his even more foolish wife have been quite careless with the disposing of the bodies when they are done and as a result, we are now an infection to the humans.”
“I have killed quite a few of those things,” Eliana hissed. “Like I said, I can protect them.”
“And what about protecting them from you?”
Eliana paused but despite the question, she remained undeterred. “I will prove to you that I can control my thirst. I will master it. We can eat human food. I will not partake of human blood.”
Cain raised an eyebrow at his daughter, and for the first time in his entire existence, he was speechless. Out of his four children, Tayre and Eliana were the most savage. Nunka had engaged in his fair share of sadistic bloodshed, preferring to taunt his victims until nothing but terror spiked their blood. However, Eliana, had been the one that brought him the most concern. From the moment she could walk, she preferred blood over food. She hunted animals at first for sport, often crushing their skulls in her tiny hands as enjoyment. She took pleasure on her first hunt, when she took down a man at least three times her size and equally as lethal. The man fought hard against Cain, successfully landing a few blows of his own. But Eliana had melted into the shadows and launched a carefully played out attack on the man from behind. Cain could never forget the horror and the awe of witnessing Eliana expertly yank the man’s spine straight of out of his back. The man’s screams still echo in the back of his mind to this night as he watched Eliana, excuse herself without another word.
The most violent of his brood wanted to change with the hope of being loved and accepted into a world that would only view them with fear. His sister and her offspring hunted them. Humans were becoming wiser and learned new methods of protection. Humans had quickly learned that monsters did exist and there were some things that might have been worse than the devil and minions.
He watched her look out at the stars and turn into mist and he knew exactly where she’d gone without telling him.
“Tati,” Cain said after a beat, still looking in the direction that Eliana had gone. “Watch over your brother. Make sure he doesn’t do anything regrettable.”
“Yes father,” Tati replied, springing to her feet.
Once Cain and Luluwa were alone, he gently picked up her hand and held it in his. Her eyes met his deep brown irises. She knew without him telling her that his worry for Eliana was deeper than the darkest trench in the sea. For the first time, the monster became human, and for that Cain worried that that alone would kill her.
“Do you think Tati can get to Tayre before he does what I hope he does not?” Luluwa asked.
“I will not have infighting between my children,” Cain stated firmly. “He knows what not to do. He has been warned repeatedly to not push Eliana over the edge.”
“He loves Eliana’s darkness just as much as he loves blood,” Luluwa whispered. “Although we are what we are, tempering our urges is what separates us from the damned.” Her grey eyes filled with crystal clear tears. “Or are we really truly damned?”
Her question gave him pause. Memories of life when he was but a boy and believed to be Adam’s son flooded his vision. The night of his transformation, the spilling of Abel’s blood, his own thirst for blood and the last few hundred years of fighting his own sister and her children, running and hiding, all in the name of survival made everything clear.
“No,” he said softly. “We are much more than that…so much more.”