Chapter 4:

Petrona's secret

Vampire Lanterns

Petrona tried to defuse the situation. "Stop! Both of you! Calm down, please! Luka,... at least apologize for attacking him and as a good gesture, bring him some clothes to change into..." She held Demyan by his pants and looked at him with puppy eyes. He glanced her way and released the grip on Luka's collar.
Luka put his arm on Demyan's hurt shoulder and put a little pressure on it. "Come out... I want to talk..." Mirko protested. "His neck is injured, he can't speak right now." Luka's eyes dropped to the bandages, which covered it. "Ok; I will talk and you will listen!" Demyan glared at Luka and followed him outside of the room.
"I have no clue, who you are, but be sure, if something happens to Petrona, I will personally find you and make you pay! She doesn't need any fake hopes. She might look tough, but she is very fragile, when it comes to her feelings. Don't even think about using her as a plaything! I am warning you, stay away from her! You will only bring her ill luck."
He turned back to Demyan and walked past him down the hall. Demyan was watching him and thinking about what he said. "Why ill luck?" Mirko was reprimanding Petrona for getting into that dangerous situation by venturing out of the outpost with the other men, while the Blood Moon was at its peak.
Demyan interrupted him. Mirko raised his hands up. "Ok, ok, I will go now. You two should rest for today. Later you also should visit the commander as well, he will probably ask you for a report." Petrona smiled and nodded her head.
Around lunchtime, she felt much better and asked him, if he wanted to stay a little at her place. Mirko, who just came in with the clothes from Luka dropped them on the floor. Everybody inside the room stayed silent out of shock. She never let anyone inside her home. A weird stranger get the chance to spend some time there? Whispers filled the room.
Petrona leaned towards Demyan's ear. "Don't mind them, they are probably just jealous, because I never call anybody inside. It's a huge trigger and a secret for them. I like teasing them with it."
He looked at her face and smirked. He felt special. Petrona opened her mouth in awe. This was the first, seeing some reaction from him. From the start, his face lacked emotions. Showed only sadness and disinterest. She was glad, that he began to warm up to her. Demyan paused... he shouldn't be able to feel nor show emotions. What is going on? Something isn't right. Lately, he is different...

She took Demyan to her living quarters on the far north side of the fortified houses. Those were the cheapest, since they were the closest and easiest when attacked. She showed him into her small attic apartment.
At first, as she opened the door a shaby-looking chest with drawers stood across the room and under the tilting roof. Next to the door, leaning to the wall, stood a small table and the left side of the room was obscured by a closet.
After a turn, he was surprised by a cat hissing at him on a massive wooden bed with engraved animals, trees and flowers. It looked beautiful, so he ran his hand over it. Petrona at first apologized, that she picked up that kitty on the streets, because it was injured. After didn't hesitate to admit, she was the one crafting that bed.
Demyan looked at her with wide surprised eyes. Then he walked towards her and inspected the palms of her hands. They were full of calluses, tiny scars and bruises. It made him sad instantly. A lady should never deal with such things.
Petrona interrupted his thoughts. "It's good, I get to do a lot of things. In the future wherever I will end, I won't get lost in life." She smiled at him brightly. "Actually, these will be my last two weeks here and the last time I see the Festival. I hope you can join me and we will enjoy it together."
Demyan was shocked about the new information he heard, but why should he care? She is a human, he is a vampire and soon he will return back to his home country on this continent. Their paths will part anyway. So why does it makes him feel upset out of sudden? He looked into her hazel, wondering eyes.
She couldn't mind reading, just kept still, while he was deep in his thoughts holding to her hands. Petrona's face flushed red. A handsome overly tall man held her by the hands. But still, she knew her place and left it only for her fantasy.
The social norms of their society didn't really approve of a relationship between a tall and a short person. Mostly short men had a slight advantage, if they made enough money, of course. Taller women carried the gene for taller kids, so short women mostly ended up alone or in the adult industry as toys.
Petrona escaped from Demyan's grip. "Well, I never asked your name. Could you write it for me?" She took out a piece of paper and a pen from the little drawer under the table in the corner. He did write it down, but since he was a vampire, he used the ancient language instead of the new modern, which was used in the Lush Lands.
It evolved from the old one, but some letters changed through time. She of course took it as a foreign writing system. "Hmmm, I can not read these,... but I recognize those." She could read only the last three...
"Y-A-N." He nodded. So she was right at least with those. "Can I call you Yan instead? It also sounds kind of like a pretty nickname. Don't you mind it?" He agreed.
Since the name introduction was at last finalized, she decided to go down from the upper floor to fetch something to eat, leaving Demyan to stay in her room by himself. "I will be back with some food! Just wait patiently for me and don't let other people inside, please." After Petrona left, he looked awkwardly at the black cat and the cat at him. He felt tired and dizzy, so he sat down at the cushioned window pledge. "This view..."
Demyan's attention diverted from the window. He felt something odd, something familiar coming from the shabby chest with drawers. He opened the second one, but he couldn't reach the source. He figured out, it had a secret compartment. Reaching inside and under, a click sound announced its opening. Demyan took out a ring... his eyes widened in shock.

The main stone; Obsidian shaped like a crescent moon and diamonds filling up the empty space on the other side of the crescent moon. The whole thing was set into a lovely leaf-shaped gold band.