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July 4, 2024

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From THE LONGER THE FALL by Inanna Arthen:

She suddenly recalled another detail from Thomas’ story. “What about your horse? If you awoke in your chambers, what happened to your transportation?”

“Ah, yes…” his face darkened. “I’d hired him, as men without households usually did at the time. He was in the stables behind the building where I was living. When I finally remembered the poor beast and went down to see to him, I discovered for the first time how overwhelming my new thirst was. I had known I wanted something. Until I smelled living blood, I wasn’t conscious of what I wanted.”

Diana swallowed uncomfortably. “You drank your horse’s blood?”

“I couldn’t stop myself. I’d seen horses bled, there are veins close to their skin, very easy to find. I’d been given a steady, patient chestnut gelding, and he’d been standing saddled and bridled all day, unnoticed by anyone. He nickered to me when he heard me approach. I walked up to him blindly, carried along by the smell of him, and I simply…” He fell silent for a moment. “That’s when I knew exactly what kind of a bargain I’d made—when I came to myself and realized that I was standing beside a trembling animal slaking a thirst for blood. Then I finally comprehended the depths of my own stupidity, not merely the night before, but through all of my life…and it was too late.”

Diana reflected that drinking blood didn’t seem like an unfair price to pay for immortality, although she decided to keep this opinion private.


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