An arm dropped around my neck from out of nowhere, and I jolted.
“Have you decided to be my helot yet?” The self-proclaimed vampire asked, as if it were a given that I would.
I noticed that he had managed to pin my knife so it would be difficult to draw, and pulling a pistol really wasn’t… a good thing in the middle of town. Besides which, the accuracy wasn’t great, and if he dodged, fast as he was, I’d be out a weapon. “No.” I growled, keeping my voice low and vehement.
He had the gall to look surprised. “Oh, you’re obedient in public. Interesting.”
I curled my lip. “I can do them all a service by letting them know that you’re a-” I broke off as a hand slid up my chest towards my throat.
“You could, of course, but then if I’m not here, they’ll think you’ve lost your wits. You wouldn’t want that, would you? Or maybe possessed of something more sinister? You humans believe in that stuff, don’t you?”
I gritted my teeth. “You don’t?”
“No.” he said and disappeared, leaving me feeling like I had lost again.
I was starting to get used to the vampire dropping in at inopportune times, in town where I couldn’t retaliate. He’d done it twice more since the first time, and I was expecting another unwanted visit any time now. This time I was ready.
As soon as I saw the faint hint of movement out of my eye, I turned, knife drawn. Only to freeze when his hand clamped my nape instead of his arm draping around my neck companionably as he’d dropped in the previous three times.
His dark eyes narrowed on me. “I suppose I am glad I came prepared. Such hostility.” He pried the knife out of my lax hand and resheathed it.
I was never sure whether to be glad he left me my weapons or insulted that he didn’t bother to disarm me.
He guided me into a dark alley between the small inn and the mayor’s house, and I went passively, unable but to do his will with his hand controlling me. I hated my victim state. “Put your hands on the wall.”
Slowly, as if dazed, I did so.
“Higher. Over your head.”
My hands slid up the wall, feeling the rough texture of wood and the smooth sticky feel of whitewash.
“Good, Boy. Don’t move. Stay just like that.”
Even in my captive state, I shuddered, a tremble going through my whole body. Only the widow had ever figured out that I’d obey orders without questioning in this state. Only the widow, until now, and now a monster had figured it out. I didn’t question how he knew my name. Everyone knew my name.
The hand slid carefully away from my nape, over until it settled on my shoulder where my position lifted it awkwardly. Enough to let me out of the victim state, except that the order I’d been given held me as firmly as being clapped into stocks would have. I don’t know why, but orders given to me in the victim state were impossible for me to disobey even after I broke out of it.
My vibrating tension gave me away, though, and he chuckled. In the victim state, my body was still and calm, relaxed. Sharp teeth pierced the curve of my neck, the same spot as before, the still healing flesh giving a twinge of protest but parting easily. I whimpered, the only sound I could make. In a far shorter time than I had expected, the teeth pulled out of my flesh and he licked my wounds closed.
“You are such a natural helot.” He said softly, warmly, as he laid a small kiss on the rim of my ear.
“What- What’s a helot?” I finally lowered myself to ask, trying to use speech to break the command that held me.
He chuckled, and maddeningly was gone, leaving me helplessly trapped.
I fought to break free for a good half candlemark, before giving up, my head dropping in weariness. And that movement broke me free. With a sigh of relief, I lowered my hands and shrugged the stiffness out of my shoulders. No one had wandered by while I had stood there unmoving, and at least that was something not a disaster about the day. I was definitely going to kill that vampire as soon as I got the chance.
“A helot was a Greeshian slave of the government.” A voice said in my ear, startling me badly. He had come up through the afternoon bustle rather than do his flicker into being there trick, and it took me off guard. “Or a Vampire’s personal servant. I want you to be my helot. Your instincts for it are excellent.”
I flinched away from him, realized that there were too many people around to draw a weapon unless I was willing to make a fuss, and hissed at him, “Go away!” I was an outsider here, just posted here to add to their security, and I wasn’t willing to make a fuss that would focus on me. There was a good chance of them not believing me and locking me up for being crazy, and an equally good chance of them believing me and starting a witch hunt that’d kill innocent strangers.
He patted my arm, and drifted off in the crowd, saying, “Another day, then.”
At least I was free of him for the next three months, if his pattern of showing up to annoy me held true.