The below contains an un-edited scene from Lunch at Midnight. If you haven’t read it (yet) it might contain a spoiler, although nothing major.
If you have read Lunch at Midnight, you might recall the twins and their fledglings took a trip to their cabin in the Alaskan wilderness. Originally, it was Raenef who went to the city to get the car fixed and get supplies, leaving Remy and Eclipse alone for a few days. This is what happened in those days…
“We have to be quiet here. With all the snowfall of the last couple of days, there’s a high risk of avelanches in this valley,” Eclipse warned when he and Remy had hiked to a valley more east to the cabin. It had different trees that made for better firewood, according to Eclipse.
Remy didn’t mind. He liked the outdoors. When Silas and he were young, they’d spend most of their summers in the bayou. Scavenging for food was easier there than it was in the city, and less dangerous as well. When he’d been turned into a vampire by Quintus and forced into slavery, he’d been sure he would never again see the light of day, smell the fresh air, or feel the wind on his face. Nature was great. It eased him in ways few other things did. And this place was like heaven to him. Well, minus all the snow and cold; He could do without those.
He never had spent much time with the other vampire alone, and at first, he wasn’t too sure he would like to. Unlike what most people had thought, Quintus, his previous Master, wasn’t the worst. It had been his brother Cassius who ‘trained’ their slaves. And it was him who was by far the cruelest of the two. Even though Eclipse seemed nothing like Cassius…well, some preconceptions were hard to let go of.
Eclipse was more talkative than his brother, but also seemed perfectly at home here in the wild. From a little distance, Remy observed him closely. The man looked the spitting image of his Master; Both were tall and had Asian, almost androgynous features. They both had straight, almost waist-long hair, but where his Master’s was pearly white with electric blue streaks in it—A Royal Methuselah trait—Eclipse’s hair was raven black with blood-red streaks. It was the only physical difference between them. Silas had felt the need to confirm that even under their clothing, they looked identical. A detail Remy did not need to know.
Their characters were also similar, but subtly different, and confusingly crossed. His Master was calm when around others. A diplomat. Yet when he was at home, he was more relaxed, talkative, and had a sharp sense of humor.
Eclipse, on the other hand, was more outgoing around others, had a more threatening aura. Yet as Remy watched him now, inhaling deeply the scent of the forest with his eyes closed, he didn’t look so imposing anymore. As if he had left that behind in the city.
It intrigued Remy as much as it scared him. If he could shake off a character trait like a coat, who was to say this ‘nice person’ persona wasn’t a mere coat either?
He’d wandered off a little as he followed a wildlife trail a little lower into the valley. His new boots, courtesy of his Master, were nice and warm and made sure he didn’t slip on the icy underlayer. Pushing away some low-hanging branches, he caught sight of a dead tree that must have fallen during a storm. Walking over, a sudden pain so intense shot through his leg that a groaned shout was past his lips before he could stop himself. Slapping his hands across his mouth to stop further screams from erupting, he closed his eyes and bit his lip. He had to concentrate not to pass out as burning pain kept shooting up from his right leg.
He’d fallen backward, but quickly realized his foot was stuck. Even the slightest movements made him nauseous with pain, so he kept himself as still as he possibly could.
Within minutes Eclipse had made his way over to him, alerted by the alarmed scream.
“What’s wrong?!” the vampire asked, kneeling down next to him.
Remy could only shake his head and clutch his leg, in too much pain to talk.
“Did you slip and twisted your ankle?”
“Remy…don’t know… hurts,” he choked out from clenched teeth.
Eclipse wasted no time and started digging in the snow. All too soon, the snow blossomed bright red. Not a good sign they both realized. Once Eclipse had cleared the snow away, it became clear he hadn’t merely twisted his ankle; He had stepped into a rusty bear trap hidden under the snow.
“Shit Remy, this doesn’t look good.”
At the angle he was laying down, he couldn’t see his own foot, but the look on Eclipse’s face said enough. Remy nodded, pretty sure it couldn’t get much worse than it was now.
When Eclipse tried to open the trap, though, he realized it could get worse. A lot worse. He was breathing fast and had to blink the dark spots from his sight away.
His misery skyrocketed when he saw Eclipse undoing his belt. Panic gripped him by his throat and in a blind panic, he struggled and tried to move away from the vampire, only making the pain in his foot worse.
“Whoah, Remy, calm down, don’t move! Here,” he said, folding his belt and handing it to Remy, “bite on this. It will help.”
He’s not going to hurt me?
With shaking hands, he took the belt and did as told.
“Okay, on the count of three, I’ll open it, and when I say pull, you try to pull your leg away, okay?”
“One.. two—” and then he used every bit of power he had to try to open the trap. But the damn thing was old, and rusted, and was in no mood to let its prisoner escape. The mere inch he managed to open it, nowhere near enough to release Remy’s foot. And when he was forced to let go again, it sank its bloodthirsty teeth even deeper into Remy’s flesh. Remy was sweating buckets and his fangs had sunken deep into the expensive leather of Eclipse’s belt, as he tried to keep silent.
“I’m sorry, Remy! I’ll get you out of this, I swear, I’ll go slow an–”
And then they heard it. A low, deep rumbling as if the entire mountain underneath them had sighed. In the distance birds flew up like fleeing rats on a sinking ship, quickly followed by ominous white clouds that went up in the air.
“Okay, scrap the take it slow part. We need to get out of here, right now!” Eclipse said, redoubling his effort to open the trap.
But even with the added urgency, it didn’t budge. Grabbing a dagger from his boot, he tried to use that as leverage.
Remy struggled. “Monsieur, non, you have to get out of here!”
“Yes. We both do, now hold still, I’m tr—”
“Non, monsieur, please, it’s too late for Remy, you need to go! Leave Remy behind!”
“I’m not leaving you behind, now don’t struggle, you’re making it worse.”
But as the thundering madness of tons of snow and rubble rushed towards them, it became glaringly clear there would be no escaping it. The avalanche was taking everything down with it in its destructive path, and it was coming straight for them, gaining speed and ammunition with every meter.
Eclipse cursed, hitting the snow in frustration.
Remy couldn’t understand why the vampire wouldn’t make a run for it. He was fast, there may still be a chance for him to reach the rock face behind them and find shelter in one of its caves. Why was he being this stubborn to stay with Remy?
When Eclipse finally gave up trying to free Remy, Remy thought he was finally getting to safety. But instead, Eclipse kneeled behind him, mumbling some kind of spell in what Remy recognized as Methuselan.
“I know, you’re not much of a hugger, but suck it up,” Eclipse said before pulling Remy up against him, mindful not to move his leg, and enclosed Remy in his arms, bracing himself for impact.
C’est fou, we’ll die. Remy thought, eyes widening as a wall of at least thirteen feet high rose above them. He closed his eyes. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfo—
A wave of freezing slate washed over him along with an ear-splitting noise, but the crushing, all-destructive wall he had expected and braced himself for, didn’t come. Shielding his head with his arms, he peeked through slitted eyes, only to open them wide. A red spear-like form of spinning fire hovered a few feet in front of them, cleaving the wall of ice and debris into two, like a hot knife through butter. Only the spray of melting ice and snow hit them, soaking them within seconds. He could feel Eclipse’s body burning up behind him, and slowly the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
He’s a Fire Elemental.
He remembered Silas boasting about how ‘crazy powerful’ his Master was, but he’d written it off as Silas exaggerating things again. Apparently, this time he hadn’t, because to actually melt your way through an avalanche? Remy couldn’t even begin to imagine the kind of power that would take.
After what seemed like forever, an almost unearthly silence fell upon the forest. Not even birds could be heard, and everything seemed frozen in place. It wasn’t until Eclipse groaned and Remy felt more of his weight resting on his shoulders that he was shaken out of his state of shock.
“M..monsieur?” Remy asked when Eclipse didn’t move or say anything.
Eclipse groaned and Remy could feel the weight lift off his back as the vampire sat up, rubbing his head as if waking himself from sleep. “That was a first,” he said, surprised. “What? It worked, didn’t it?” he added when he saw Remy’s shocked look. “Now let’s get you out of here. We’re both soaking wet, and with these temperatures, we’ll freeze to death in no time. It would be a real shame to survive an avalanche only to freeze to death.”
Seeing there was no safe way to open the trap fast enough, Eclipse decided to disassemble the thing instead. Using his hunting knife, safely hidden in his other boot, to pry open the rusty screws, he finally managed to free Remy’s foot.
Remy was barely conscious as the combination of cold, pain, and blood loss had caught up with him. He was vaguely aware Eclipse lifted him carefully and carried him back to the cabin, all the while whispering softly to him to stay awake.
Remy woke up again as a skull-numbing pain raced through his leg and up his spine, making his back arch straight off the couch.
“I’m sorry! I.. I have to take your boot off in order to see the wound and clean it,” Eclipse apologized.
Remy swallowed and grit his teeth, nodding he understood. He had no choice but to surrender himself to this vampire as he was completely at his mercy with his Master’s absence.
Eclipse gave him his belt again to bite on, and Remy had to give it to him; the vampire worked fast and didn’t seem to derive any pleasure from hurting him. Unlike other monsters he’d come across. If anything, the man looked in as much pain as he was.
Once Eclipse had cut away the remains of his boot, he had a first peek at his leg, and almost threw up when he did. The teeth of the trap had sunk deep into his ankle, damaging the bone, arteries, and flesh. If it hadn’t been for the real leather boots his Master had bought him, he probably would have lost his foot.
Eclipse got up and rummaged through the cupboard to find a first aid kit, but frowned when he opened it. Apart from some bandages and one small bottle of cleaning alcohol, there wasn’t much useful in it. Methuselah hardly got sick, and with a brother who could heal almost any wound, the need for a fully packed first aid kit had never really been an issue.
“We need to clean the wound, or you’ll get infections, and you don’t want that in a remote cabin. We also need to cauterize the wound. Neither you will like, I’m afraid. But Raenef won’t be back for at least two more days, and it can’t wait that long. Do you understand?” Eclipse said, voice tense.
Remy nodded. “Oui Monsieur.”
Eclipse gave him an apologetic look, and Remy bit down on the belt again.
“Hang on, drink this,” Eclipse said, holding out a bottle of whiskey to him. “We don’t have any painkillers here, and believe me, you don’t want to be fully sober when I do this. It’s the best we have.”
Remy frowned but did as told. Normally it would take a lot of alcohol to get a Methuselah drunk, but the state he was in now made the alcohol hit that much harder. A few good swallows later and Remy’s head was spinning.
Grateful as he was for not being able to think straight, it did little for the pain, he soon realized. But years of torture had taught him how to bite through pain without giving them the pleasure of hearing him scream.
“Almost done, you’re doing real good, Remy. All that’s left is to cauterize the wound to stop the bleeding,” Eclipse said, holding his hunting knife over the fire in the herd.
A second of excruciating pain later and the smell of burned flesh made him dry heave. The scent of Ambrosia permitted his nose, replacing the foul smell, bringing his Methuselan side violently to the surface, and he drank greedily when Eclipse held up the vial. Only when Eclipse told him he was done cleaning the wound, did he allow himself to sink into the dark oblivion that had been tempting him.
Time was a string of pain, fevered nightmares followed by more pain. He was vaguely aware Eclipse hadn’t left his side through it all and was dabbing his face with cold towels. There were even several occasions he was sure he heard singing, but it seemed so out of place that he was convinced he’d been dreaming.
Eclipse had cleaned the wound several times but had run out of alcohol, and eventually had left it for what it was.
“M..monsieur? S’il vous plaît… don’t leave..don’t leave Remy…” Remy begged, clasping the vampire’s hand in his sweaty one. He was sure that no matter what happened, his Master would come back for his brother, so if he could only stay with the vampire, he would see his Master again.
Wolves were howling and circling around the cabin when Raenef made his way back. It had taken him a little longer since an avalanche had destroyed the road, but eventually, he got everything they needed. When the heavy scent of blood reached his nostrils, he couldn’t blame the wolves as they circled the cabin hungrily.
At first, he thought that maybe Eclipse had gone hunting for elk or something, but when he got closer, he recognized the blood to be Remy’s. Fear gripped him as he rushed to the cabin, almost falling through the door in his hurry.
The sight that greeted him did nothing to calm him—nor did the heavy scent of both stale and fresh blood. There were bloodied bandages and towels everywhere. Eclipse was kneeling next to the couch on which Remy was sleeping, head resting on the armrest.
“What on earth happened?!” Raenef said, rushing to their side.
Eclipse groggily lifted his head, and Raenef noticed his eyes seemed to have trouble focusing. “You’re back… what took you this long?”
“Never mind, what happened?!”
Eclipse quickly told him everything that had happened. “You need to heal him, quickly, Ra’.”
Raenef’s hands were already at work, unwrapping the bandages from the now festering wounds. “Why on earth didn’t you clean the wounds?!” Raenef said accusingly.
“I did. But there was only a little alcohol. I even used the leftover whiskey, but it still wasn’t enough. Besides, every time I cleaned it, his wounds reopened, and he lost even more blood. He was too weak to hold down the Ambrosia, an—”
“—You were running on empty too with your Mana drained,” Raenef finished.
In stopping the avalanche from killing them, Eclipse had used most of his Mana. Apart from weakening him considerably, it also delayed his body to replenish their blood. And he must have fed Remy a considerable amount of his blood in order to keep the boy alive.
Raenef cursed. He knew Eclipse had done everything he could to try to save Remy, had probably gone further than any other Methuselah would for a slave that wasn’t even his own, but Remy was in bad shape.
And to think I brought him up here to get away from the stress.
The healing only took a short time, but it was harder to drive the infection out. After feeding both Remy and Eclipse his blood, he sat down against the couch, next to his brother, who had more or less passed out.
We make for one hell of a party crowd. Raenef thought, whipping the blood off his hands on a towel and throwing it into the herd.
Within two days, Remy was back on his feet, and though still a little unsteady, he was doing much better. Eclipse had slept off his own drowsiness, giving his Mana time to replenish itself.
“I swear, if I’ll catch those damn poachers, I’ll kill them!” Eclipse swore. “This is our land, they have no right coming here and setting these traps. What if a human had stepped in one? Or what if Remy had been alone? He could have bled out and frozen to dea—Sorry, Remy. I.. well, you know, they had no right,” Eclipse said apologetically when he saw Remy’s eyes widen.
“We’ll inform the Troopers to keep an eye out for poachers,” Raenef said. For now, we’ll just have to be careful.”
Eclipse growled. “We’ll see who catches them first.”
Raenef chuckled and winked at Remy. “On a brighter note, Silas will arrive today in Fairbanks. I assume you want to go pick him up?” Raenef asked his twin.
“Sure. I can get Remy a new pair of boots as well. And we probably need some new towels,” he added sheepishly. In his hurry to stop the bleeding, he had pretty much used every towel he could find.
Raenef laughed. “That might be a good idea.”