I was ready this time, and when I saw the flicker I ducked and kicked out, taking his feet out from under him.
He fell hard and landed badly, wincing when I pinned him. “You can’t kill me without drawing your weapon, you know?”
I was starting to have fun with this game, oddly enough, and I wasn’t quite so sure any more that I wanted to kill him. “What’s your name?”
He blinked. “Quent Harvey.”
“What maggot makes you want to take someone as a slave who would cheerfully kill you?” This attitude was really beginning to bother me.
“You would not try to kill someone you owned as master willingly, and I don’t much care if you kill other people, as long as you don’t make trouble doing so.”
I really didn’t like his conviction, because it was truth. I didn’t make trouble for those whose authority I accepted. I was no rabble-rouser. “I am no one’s slave, nor will I be.”
“That’s your choice, of course, but don’t you enjoy it when someone takes away your will?”
I scrambled away from him, confusion spinning through me. Of course I hated it, didn’t I? “I hate you!” I spat, and left him lying there in the alley.
Annoyed, I swatted at a fly with some force, only to have the back of my hand connect with a face.
Quent grunted as he was knocked on his rear. That was interesting as I’d never managed that before. He held a hand to his nose. “Ow.”
“Stupid.” I told him.
“You too.” He mumbled.
Warned, I managed to dodge his hand as he reached for my ankle. I drew my gun and leveled it at him.
“You are the strangest vampire I’ve ever met.”
“You’ve met more than one?” he asked, looking sour that he’d missed me.
He looked grumpy. “We aren’t supposed to do that to those we ask to be our helots. It’s a breach of trust. Not supposed to be clumsy enough to need it in the first place.”
“Oh, so you’re clumsy. I suppose that explains a lot.”
“I am not! …Well, I am hard headed, though. We can live on animal blood, blood is blood after all, it just tastes disgusting. And if I hadn’t left home, it wouldn’t be an issue. There are families who feed vampires in exchange for some patronage.”
It took me a minute to wrap my head around all that. “So, you can just drink animal blood and be fine?”
“And you refused as you traveled out this way, because you don’t like the taste?”
“Yes.” He agreed a little sulkily.
“To the point of starvation?”
He had the grace to look embarrassed. “Yes.”
“So then you clumsily attacked me, which you aren’t supposed to do, because I wandered by while you were on the verge of death?”
“Yes.” He sounded a bit surly about it now.
“And then you decided that you wanted me to be your helot, so you couldn’t use your little magic trick to make me forget?”
“Yes. Your blood is tasty.” He didn’t sound sorry about that at all.
“All of which you could have avoided if you’d stayed at home?”
“And you’re not a walking corpse?”
“Of course not!” he sounded indignant instead of amused at the accusation this time.
“And you have families who would willingly feed you if you’d stayed home?” I laded my voice with every last drop of disbelief I felt.
“Helots are allowed to have families, you know. Encouraged to, even. And those families usually stay in service to us. We live longer than humans, so it’s not like they don’t know what their employer likes and dislikes. Vampires tend to be very good employers, though not all of us are polite to humans. You wouldn’t like to run into one who wasn’t.”
“So you have rich parents, servants, none of which you brought along, and you decided to leave it all behind for the positively teeming hunting grounds of the sparsely populated frontier, why?”
“Because I was bored.”
“I take it back. You aren’t the strangest vampire I’ve ever met, you’re the stupidest!”
“Oh shut up.” He said sulkily and disappeared.
I wondered if he’d been living off of animal blood while hanging around to periodically annoy me, or if he’d found a human source and was using hypnotism on them. I was pretty sure that vampires had to eat more often than he was chomping on me.