I'm lying on the damp forest floor when the first sane thoughts float into my mind. Instead of blood, I think about the trees, and how completely different they are from the saplings of my home planet. Long gone are the purple willowy leaves and rust colored bark, replaced by deep browns and greens. After the thought leaves me, I remember who I am. Why I am.
I am Aldeon, dhampir of Azure. My mother is Jansle and my father is Far. My sister, Arlee, has gone to become a Scholar in the Great Halls of Knowledge. Or at least she was, before famine came and swept them all away. Swept me away.
My fingers trace over the ground, feeling the differences between my world and this one. The biggest one I notice is the dry leaves are itchy against my skin. This planet is not my own. I gaze up at the blue sky, trying to piece together all that is lost.
The blood supply was depleted, and I was so famished that no amount of begging would soothe my aching stomach. Years passed, filled with crazed thoughts and darkness. What has changed?
I stand to my feet, dusting off my old garbs and pulling twigs from my long black hair. The wind whistles through the trees, and I look up in amazement. Though the sight is different, the sounds remain the same as home.
Home. This is not your home.
I stumble through the dense thicket of trees, not sure where I’m going. I don't know this landscape, though flashes of memories hit me with each step. Images of myself in the depths of my madness, sweeping through villages and drinking warm blood. I gulp and halt my steps.
That couldn't be right. Surely no life as advanced as my own could live on this world. The blood I drank could not have come from a sentient being. But yes, I remember their faces clearly. I remember their hands reaching out for someone to save them.
The muscles in my jaw tighten as I dispel the images from my head. What is done is done. The tide has turned now. I have to put the past behind me and find more of my people. By now, others had to have awoken from their haze.
Hello, is there anyone there? I call out with my mind, as I still and listen patiently. If there are other dhampirs near me, they will hear. But I wait for endless minutes, and no one returns my call. So instead, I reach out with my own mind, searching.
They are not back to themselves. None of them. My heart sinks as I come to the realization that I might be the first to have recovered from the madness, from the hunger.
I continue to walk the lands, crossing rivers and boulders as I go. Droplets of water trickle down branches and splatter against unfurling green moss as I travel. A beauty that would never have been seen by my people if we hadn't arrived here. I stop again, resting my hand against a coarse rock.
How did I get here? No memories surface to answer my question, only darkness and the desolate land of Azure, and then light, and bodies, and blood. I struggle to break free from the memories of the people as a sinking knot settles deep in my gut.
I don't have the answers right now, so I'll have to find others. Surely someone else knows what has gone on. We couldn't have gotten here on our own, not while consumed by our insanity.
I call out with my mind again. Is there anyone there? Has anyone returned to their whole minds yet?
The silence stretches on for an eternity, and I raise my foot to continue forward. Before I hit the ground again, another answers my call.
Brother... I am here.
Though I can hear him clear as day, the connection is weak. He is miles away, but regardless, my delight over speaking to another person can't be squashed. Brother. Have you recovered from your hunger?
Another long pause stretches before us, and I wonder if he isn't as well as I hoped. Maybe he still longs for blood.
Not anymore. I've just feasted on the last of the four legged creatures. I don't imagine I'll want another drop of blood for a while. What of you? Are you well?
I shake my head before realizing that he cannot see it. No. I am well. But there are others who are still lost to the hunger. Sadness lingers at that thought, and I try to push it away. There is no time for despair right now. I have found another! Which of the four legged creatures did you have? Hoof or claw?
I remember my last days in this forest before the haze lifted, and of my most recent meal. The poor being didn't stand a chance against me. It was sizable and covered in brown fur, with claws as sharp as talons. The beast was too slow. Its life ended quickly.
It was hoofed, with horns. He sends me a mental image of the being, and I watch through his eyes as he stalks the fauna through the dark woodland.
Feeling the pull of his mind, I switch direction toward his location. Sooner or later, we will find each other, and once the others recover, we will start our own village.
Twigs snap underfoot as I walk, and the wind breezes through my hair, giving me the slightest of comforts. Perhaps this strange land will be good for us. After all, we are alive. There are beasts in these forests, and more blood to hunt here. We could start anew.
A rust colored stone catches my eye, and I seize it from the forest floor. I examine it under the light that filters down through the trees. The materials look strikingly similar to the rocks on Azure, but held at an angle, this one shimmers and sparkles. I toss it back to the ground and continue forward.
What is your name, Brother?
I step over a fallen tree, covered in green moss and vegetation. A small, big eared animal scampers away as I draw near.
Brone. And you?
I look up to the sun, shielding my eyes with my hand. It's unduly bright and yellow white in color, nothing like the red sun that lit the days in Azure.
You may call me Aldeon.
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