“Tell me, how are you feeling?”
Retvik wasn’t sure whether he was conscious or not. He was conscious when General Litvir led him into the lead-lined room. He was conscious when he sat down on the stool at the little desk. But whenever Litvir had touched him, something had felt… off. Compounding things further, Retvik couldn’t tell whether Litvir was inside Retvik’s head or not. He could hear Litvir speaking, but his words were accompanied by an awful reverb Retvik couldn’t explain.
“I am confused.”
“Why is that?”
Glancing around the room, Retvik tried to answer why. Was the room this large when he came in here? His head felt heavy, so Retvik rested it on the desk. He was tired and didn’t know why.
“This is all confusing. I do not know what is going on.”
Litvir’s words were not helping. There was something… uneasy with how Litvir spoke. His words oozed with a strange, underlying tone Retvik could not quite pick up on.
“Am I awake, General? Have I passed out from exhaustion or did you put me to sleep?”
“I put you to sleep.”
“So why am I…” Retvik paused. He checked his surroundings again. Was he asleep? Did he trust Litvir’s words? “What is going on, General? I wish to have all of this clarified. I do not like how I feel.”
“You feel uneasy, yes?”
Retvik took a deep breath, then straightened himself out, sitting upright and looking straight ahead. There was a stool on the other side of the desk where Litvir was supposed to have been sitting, but the General clearly was not there.
“Do you know why you are in this room?”
“You led me in here, discussing how impressed you were with my control after such a short period of time, and you wanted to talk to me in private about promotions.”
Litvir suddenly appeared behind Retvik. Had Litvir been there the whole time and he hadn’t noticed? Maybe, maybe not. Something cold briefly pressed against Retvik’s shoulder. It was Litvir’s hand, very gently applying pressure to the exposed skin between Retvik’s armour plating. Each time Litvir let go, some of that cold sensation remained, somewhat spreading across his body.
Realising something wasn’t right, Retvik forced himself up, despite the heavy chains around his legs. The chains he had forgotten about.
“Litvir, I demand you stop!”
“Stop what?” was Litvir’s reply. Yet Litvir was once more seemingly no longer present. “I cannot help but be so cold, while you are so warm.”
“You are manipulating me in ways I do NOT feel comfortable!” Retvik hissed, trying to orientate himself and find the exit. He felt annoyingly dizzy and the chains and drowsiness were not helping. “What game are you playing at, Litvir? Please explain to me what is going on!”
“Very well, since you asked so nicely…” Something flashed behind Retvik. Litvir materialized in the stool on the opposite side of the desk. “Wake up, Retvik.”
As he did as he was told, everything seemed to… brighten up. Retvik found himself already seated, lifting his head off the desk.
“What… what is going on…” Retvik muttered weakly. “You… you are… not… who you say you are.”
“No, I am exactly who I say I am, but I have not revealed all there is to me…” Litvir sighed. “I have some rather strange powers of my own…”
Retvik straightened himself up. It had suddenly occurred to him what Litvir was trying to do. Why he was so cold and… empty. “You are a Vrykolak.”
Litvir frowned. “In a way, yes. I can feed on emotions, and that is how I reduce the pain of many of the… unluckier beings in my Legion. I planned to do the same to you, to feed off the guilt in your mind to make you both more able to learn and more pliable. But I do not actually have the aimophagic illness…”
“You should not have done that!” Retvik snapped, not caring that Litvir was his superior. “You have no right to sabotage the emo-”
“We have no rights!” Litvir interrupted, leaning forward. Unlike every other time Litvir had spoken though, Retvik did not sense the… forced pressure in his voice that always made him compliant. “You have no rights! The Rethavok have no individual rights in any way and everything I do is perfectly fine by Rethan Law. You have always been a particularly righteous Rethan and I admire that you, well, care, but you have a habit of forgetting that us Rethavok are just as much a hive mind as the Vohra and the Temthans are. You are only as sentient and individual as you are because of your bloodline, had you been anyone else, we would not be having this conversation.”
Retvik sneered. “If things were different, you would have stripped me of my deeper thoughts already.”
“No, not at all. I merely feed on the emotions we do not need. One is happier when they are not worrying about things they cannot change or influence. And to be fair, we all already do that anyway, by spreading our negative emotions around. I simply remove negative emotions from the equation completely.”
“Yet you do so without permission…” Retvik tutted. “That is what bothers me. What feelings were you going to take from my mind?”
“The feelings of guilt and despair that you a now a soldier of the 11th Legion, being unable to see your partner. Horrible emotions that hold you back and make you lash out. Up until now, I had been feeding on more general negative feelings, to stop you from feeling pain and to keep you compliant. Your promotion involves me taking that last bit of pain away, and my no longer feeding on you.”
“You… were already feeding on me?” Retvik hesitated, feeling rather… violated.
Litvir nodded. “It was that or allow a new elementalborn to blow himself up with his own powers. Emotions and Rethavok do not mix well at the best of times. Most who come in here with extreme emotions end up dying because of a lack of emotional control. You made it though. In one piece.”
“And now…” Retvik trailed off, not sure what to say. “What happens now?”
“With your permission, I feed off you one more time, properly. Then, after that, I fit you with some specially made armour, we do some more training and you work for me, permanently, as a captain of the 11th Legion.”
“What does this… last feeding involve?”
Before Retvik could reply, Litvir disappeared, only to flash behind where Retvik was standing. In a single, swift action, Litvir’s fangs bit deep into the unarmoured flesh on Retvik’s neck, penetrating not just skin but arteries as well. Retvik’s attempts to fight back were short-lived, as a paralytic venom flooded his system. Once Retvik’s struggles stopped, Litvir sunk more teeth into his neck and began to feed.
“Do not fret, little one…” Litvir’s telepathic voice echoed as consciousness fled Retvik’s mind. “This is for the best…”