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Hello, and welcome to The Afflicted! This work was up on Literotica a few years ago and was fairly popular. Due to lots of requests, I am now re-posting the entire thing in one work. I hope you enjoy! Please vote and comment if you are so inclined, it is always appreciated.
The Year – 1869.
The steel flashed beneath the setting moon. The clash of the swords was the only noise on the deck of the ship other than the whisper of the wind through the sails.
The family had the ship to themselves every night from midnight until 5:00 am, barring bad weather. The only other persons allowed above were the captain, and his three most trusted mates, all of whom were long-time employees of the Council and were models of discretion. The rest of the crew was essentially locked below during the wee morning hours for the family’s protection.
Claude’s father, Palo, insisted that the children continue their sword practice throughout the voyage.
Spending the better part of each day locked in their double-sealed quarters below-decks made their time above a welcome relief, regardless of the activities.
“Sword arm higher, Aimée” said Palo in his cultivated English accent, tinged with the rich French tones he’d gained from his privileged Moroccan upbringing. “That’s it.”
Claude made a quick retreat as his sister came at him with an energetic attack. Their swords flashed in a nearly invisible web. Claude was nearly disarmed but managed to hold on to his weapon. Aimée grew overconfident and Claude knocked her weapon aside. In the same motion, his sword slashed across her forearm, leaving a huge bleeding gash.
“Merde!” shouted Aimée, dropping her weapon.
“Aimée, that was careless,” said Palo. “Further, I have told you, English only, in order to be ready for America.”
“Well I am sorry, father,” said Aimée angrily. “I wasn’t exactly thinking of the correct language I should swear in.”
“‘Damn it’, or ‘fuck’ would have worked,” said their mother, Frederique, who was reading by lantern in a chair.
“I’ll remember that,” said Aimée.
Frederique placed her book down and stood. “Well, I suppose it is my turn. What do you say Palo?”
“Absolutely.” said their father.
Frederique stood. She was dressed very properly, which wouldn’t do for swordplay. First, she removed her large skirt, and then began unlacing her top, revealing the creamy white skin below. At the same time, Palo removed his doublet, uncovering the well-muscled, chocolate-hued chest below. For Claude and Aimée, their parents were simply their parents. However, even they were aware that there were few to compare with their parents in terms of physical beauty. The difference in the color of their skins seemed to heighten their attractiveness by contrast. Claude and Aimée watched on as their parents prepared. Frederique now stood in petticoats and a corset, loosened for movement. Palo stood in breeches only.
“How is it healing,” asked Claude of Aimée as their parents prepared to fence.
“Good, it wasn’t too deep.”
Claude glanced down at her arm, and the healing was progressing well. The blood had stopped and the wound was already scabbed over and mending.
The Affliction, as their condition was called, always helped things along miraculously. Though they could not live in the light of day, there were many positive trade-offs to make it worth their while. This rapid healing was one of the greatest benefits. In terms of the activity at hand, it made those of the Afflicted some of the most stunning swordsmen the world had ever seen. Not only did the Affliction enhance physical strength and reflexes, the healing it offered gave the Afflicted an unbelievable advantage. First, they could train in ‘real’ conditions. No wooden swords or blunt edges for them. An opponent in a real battle gave no quarter, so they offered themselves none when they trained. That, and not having to fear injury, made them ferocious opponents. Hunted as they were, ‘vampires’ (as the rest of the world called them), meant such skills were gravely needed from time to time. In sparring, mortals needed to wear protective clothing and use training blades. With the Afflicted, there was only one rule – avoid the heart or decapitation. Even severed limbs could be grafted back on and would heal in a day or so. Though the Affliction could heal almost anything, there wasn’t much to do for any being with a ruptured heart or a severed head.
“Voler?” asked Frederique.
“English, darling.” admonished Palo.
“Very well then. Flying? Both of us?”
“I think we should, it has been a while,” said their father.
Claude and Frederique shared an excited glance. Their parents sparring sessions usually involved at least one of them staying on the ground, so as to be prepared for mortal opponents. However, fights between the Afflicted were known to happen, so air-to-air flying was practiced as well.
Their father was widely acknowledged izmir escort bayan as one of the greatest swordsmen from the African continent. Even before their mother had taken him as a mate and blessed him with the Affliction his prowess had been legendary. Still, he was relatively young, being over five hundred years younger than Frederique. On the ground, her greatly superior experience made them fairly evenly matched on the ground, though if Palo was patient he could wear down their mother with his greater strength. The tipping point occurred when they took to the air. As great as their father’s reputation was with the sword, all of their friends among the Afflicted spoke even more highly of their mother’s flying skills. Her speed and ability, and the ease with which she flew were amazing to behold.
Both Claude and Aimée had yet to ‘awaken’, as it was called when the Affliction came to full strength, so they had yet to fly (or whatever talents the Affliction might manifest in them). After all of their drubbings at their father’s hand, they always looked forward to the observing flight sessions where they knew their mother would emerge victorious.
“Salute,” said their father, holding his blade to his forehead.
“Salute,” said Frederique, holding her longer blade upward, while readying her shorter sword in her left hand. Her preferred method was always two swords: a longer spadroon and a shorter double-edged sword for parrying. Their father had chosen his favorite this evening, an extra-long curved saif.
One of the most entertaining elements of flight duels was unpredictability. Some duels would start with one opponent rocketing into the skies, the other pursuing them.
Tonight started differently. Their parents stayed on the deck, circling each other cautiously, parrying briefly now and again as they looked for an opening.
At last it was Palo who grew impatient and engaged fully. As always, it was startling to see. To the non-Afflicted, no swords would have been visible in this exchange. Even to Claude and Aimée, the blades were a blur from their speed. They watched in awe as each thrust and slash was met with a parry, as each feint was anticipated and countered. At last, Palo found an opening. Both Claude and Aimée gasped as they saw their father’s blade thrusting toward their mother’s left breast. They needn’t have feared, however, as Frederique sailed backward across the deck and then made for the skies, Palo directly on her heels.
“I wonder how long it will be before we can do that” said Claude wistfully.
“I know,” replied Aimée. “To leave the earth, to soar like that; how wonderful it will be.”
They watched as well as they could as their parents played a fascinating game of cat and mouse among the rigging and sails of the ship. Here, Frederique would be behind a mast, there Palo would appear from behind a sail. At last, Palo caught her in the open and they soared upward once again.
“He’s done for,” said Aimée. “I’ll give him thirty seconds.”
“Agreed,” said Claude, “but I’ll wager a minute.”
“Very well, let’s count.”
The two of them began counting the seconds as the sound of the clashing swords grew further and further away.
“Thirty,” said Claude. “I win.”
“It is a long way from a minute,” smiled Aimée.
They kept counting and squinting at the skies, not even able to make out their parents in the darkness.
“Fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven…”
“You win,” said Aimée.
“Let’s see how he does though,” said Claude. “He’s doing much better recently.
They reached nearly eighty when they heard their father’s pained cry far above them.
“Very good,” said Aimée, “a new record.”
“Below!” their mother shouted. The two of them ducked beneath the foredeck. Afflicted or not, it still wouldn’t be fun to be pierced by a falling sword.
“There!” shouted Aimée, pointing at the glittering object, flashing thanks to the waxing moon. It was falling ahead of, and to the right of the ship, straight into the waves.
“Damn!” said Claude, “Father would hate to lose that sword. Send mother after me.”
With that, Claude jumped to the railing and watched the falling object. Timing his dive, he leapt and landed in the water about ten feet from where the sword was due to hit. Plunging downward, he looked up and was grateful to see the telltale splash illuminated, and proudly swam up to catch the sword by the hilt. He burst to the surface, surprised at how rapidly the ship had diminished in the distance. Bobbing among the waves, he treaded water patiently waiting for his mother to rescue him.
Back on the deck, Aimée watched as her mother alighted gracefully, followed by her father who held his right shoulder painfully, blood still flowing liberally from a large gash.
Aimée hastily grabbed a cloth and bucket, sponging off the wound and assisting her mother to place temporary bandages.
“I almost had her,” said Palo.
“It’s true, he escort izmir did.” said Frederique, “and I’m not being generous, you are getting terribly good in the air, my love.”
“Someday,” said Palo. “Someday I will best you, my beautiful, fierce creature.”
“Aimée, where is Claude?” asked Frederique.
“Mon dieu!” cursed Aimée. “He’s in the water; he went after Father’s sword.”
“Oh dear,” laughed Frederique. “I’m glad you thought of it now, we could have lost him for good.”
She levitated and started off the ship. “Just follow the wake,” said Palo.
“I know, dear.”
A few minutes later, Claude saw the silhouette against the stars and waived his father’s sword in the air, hoping the blade would catch the light of the moon. It served his purpose, and he soon saw his mother swooping down, brushing her fingers along the water as she approached him.
“You know, we can always replace a sword,” she admonished him.
“But I have you, Mother,” he said, grinning, “the greatest flier in the history of all the Afflicted. You know how much father loves this sword.”
“True,” said Frederique, “and now you are found. How is the water, by the way?”
“Surprisingly warm,” said Claude.
“Good, I’ll wash off some of this sweat.”
Frederique lowered herself gracefully into the water, letting a swell in the waves engulf her. Soon, she reappeared, water streaming from her hair. She swam about for a few minutes, laughing and chatting with Claude about the duel with his father, among other things.
“How beautiful the moon is this evening.”
“Yes,” said Frederique, “And just two days until full.”
There was more than a hint of worry in her voice, though Claude failed to detect it.
“Well then? Pret? Ready?” she asked.
“Yes,” said Claude.
Frederique swam up beside him and pulled him to her, readying to lift from the water.
Claude had swum with his mother countless times in the past. They’d had a pool below ground in their old house and it was a daily activity with all of them. They were also a very ‘touchy’ family, and had never shied away from physical contact, taking it almost for granted.
Given that, what happened next was a true shock to Claude’s system.
As Frederique pulled him close and he could feel her body through her wet undergarments, a startling bolt of energy shot through his system. It was as though his skin was on fire, and down below, he felt himself hardening inexplicably.
Frederique herself seemed to sense something and turned to Claude, her face a fraction of an inch from his. “Claude, is everything all right?”
“Oui mother,” said Claude, looking away from her, embarrassed and overwhelmed by his body’s reaction.
“Are you sure? If anything is amiss, you should tell me.”
Frederique pulled him closer as they lifted from the water. Again, his body cried out with strange, anxious longing. He shuddered as they lifted into the air.
“Claude, are you sure?” said Frederique, gently.
“Yes, just the chill of the air, mother.” he lied.
“I see,” she said, her eyes squinting suspiciously. Yet, she said nothing else and pushed him away, holding only onto his hand in order to extend her sphere of flight around him. “Off to the ship.”
Claude was both grateful and sad at their parting. Something inside of him screamed out upon their separation, though it did ease his longing. Still, the point where their hands touched felt electrified, and all his body wanted was to pull her close to him again.
Their flight back was quiet. In spite of what Claude had said, the air was actually warm. By the time they landed back on the deck of the ship, they were entirely dry from the warm breeze they’d flown through. Claude’s heart skipped a beat as he looked at his mother, her hair radiant and full in the moonlight. With a last feeling of reluctance, he let loose of her hand.
“So? How are our wounded?” asked Frederique.
“I was all better long ago,” said Aimée. “Father is getting there. You dealt him quite a blow.”
Palo sat, still holding the bandage to his shoulder.
“It’s that damn second sword,” he said, half angrily. “Not gentlemanly, I’ve always said.”
“First, I’m not a gentleman,” said Frederique. “Second, that second sword has defeated more enemies than I can count.”
“True, true. But I had you for a while there,” insisted Palo.
“You did, mon cher. You did indeed,” she said, snuggling under his strong arm. “Soon, you will be the master of the skies as well.”
“That will be quite a while, I fear.”
Claude went straight to the cleaning kit. Saltwater was beastly with blades, and he wanted to oil it thoroughly to prevent any damage that might have been done. He had another reason for crossing there, it allowed him to distract his mind from his mother and the feelings their touch had stirred.
Palo stood and removed the staunch on his shoulder. The wound had shrunken to izmir escort a small hole and would be gone within the hour.
“My thanks to you, son.” said Palo. “That one is a gem of a weapon.”
“It was my pleasure, father.” said Claude, not daring to meet his father’s eyes from shame.
“Is everything well with you, Claude?” asked his father, concerned.
“Yes. Yes. I just think that treading water all that time took a bit out of me. I just need some rest.”
“The sun is coming soon enough. Take it easy up here while you can. Thanks, once again.”
Claude nodded quietly and walked to the end of the ship, leaning on the railing and looking out at stars dwindling into the approaching dawn. He contemplated the odd sensations within him, and then realized something which truly put him in bad spirits. They had to return to below-decks soon.
With her usual catlike silence, Aimée appeared beside him and also peered out at the stars.
“Mother says you must come in,”
“I know. I just want a few more minutes longer in the fresh air.”
“I don’t blame you,” said Aimée. “Each day, it seems longer than the one before down in that horrible hold.”
“It’s not just being below,” said Claude. “Our cabins are like a palace compared to what the crew must live in. No, the problem is our parents. Listening to them all day long, it will drive me crazy. You’d think they could at least be a little quieter.”
“They never have been,” said Aimée, shrugging. “Why would they now?”
“Because now, we are not in a thirty room mansion with them at the far end. Now, there are only two inches of wood between their cabin and mine. Doesn’t it bother you?”
“I have your cabin between mine and theirs so it isn’t so loud. Now come down below.”
They both walked to her cabin and flopped down upon her bed. Their legs ended up brushing together as they sat on opposite ends of the bed. Again, the familiarity was there, Claude and Aimée had always had a great sense of comfort with each other.
“What do you think it is going to be like when we get there?” asked Claude.
“I’m not certain, but I’m sure it will be wonderful,” said Aimée, smiling. “The civil war is over — there is now equality for all. Mother and father will have a place where they are truly accepted, no?”
Claude suppressed his first response, not wanting to hurt Aimée’s feelings. She had always been the eternal optimist in the family. Claude had asked many sources. He feared they were in for a rougher path than Aimée suspected because of their skin color, but he tempered his words.
“What I think,” he said, “Is we may still meet many who don’t approve of our father’s dark skin… but since our dealings are only by night, father will be able to continue to grow our wealth with few people knowing his face. I think I will have a harder time of it, but you… with so much of mother’s coloring… I think you can say you are Spanish or Greek maybe, and not worry about the black part of the equation.”
“Greek? Why would I say such a thing?”
“You’ll see, Aimée. You’ll see.”
Claude scrutinized his sister. She had changed immensely in the past year. She had been a gangly tomboy not that long ago. It seemed her breasts had appeared overnight, and the curves in her hips had soon followed. He had teased her mercilessly about her newly acquired ‘friends’. Sometimes he’d paid the price for his teasing. Her tomboy muscles hadn’t disappeared, merely been covered up by more curvy flesh, and she’d come out the victor in several scraps. She wasn’t as strong as him, but she was far swifter and used that to her advantage.
When they had learned they were to be traveling to America, the teasing had stopped, though. Knowing they would only have each other as allies for some time had led to a shift in their relationship.
“What are you looking at?” asked Aimée, noticing Claude’s gaze.
“Nothing. I’m just wondering how many of the Afflicted’s hearts you’re going to break before you choose your first mate.
“Claude, is that a compliment?” she asked shyly.
“Perhaps, but don’t expect such things very often.”
“Oh, I won’t. But thank you all the same.”
She pushed down beside him, pushing into the crook of his arm and snuggling across him.
“So,” said Claude, “We start in New York, there to be auctioned off.”
“Oh stop, silly.”
“No, not auctioned,” Claude continued, “but that’s where they will have gathered all of the other single Afflicted. It just feels so odd, being put out to stud, so to speak. It’s like when father would breed horses. He would put the stallion in the pasture with the fillies and just see what happened.”
“But the fillies will also have a choice here,” said Aimée, her eyes flaring.
“I wasn’t saying they didn’t. That was just the closest analogy I could find. What do you think they’ll do? Strip us naked and throw us in an underground room with padded floor and pillows. Leave us there until we’ve paired up?”
“You’d like that, but I suspect they’ll be more subtle in their approach.”
“I suppose you’re right,” said Claude, turning away from her so he was facing out. Aimée hugged herself into his back.
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