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Leech

When you begin to bleed with the moon you leave the Ferrarium and go to the city. You are given twenty gold lakshmis and a room, and you make a life for yourself. This is iron fact, to Leech. When her best friend Poiesia left her behind, Leech gave her a bracelet for luck: copper wire, hand-wound around a little orange gem.

The trouble all begins when she sees it around a Honcho’s wrist. As she tears the transfusion line from his arm, deaf to his squeals, she understands that her world is changing. His hot red blood anoints her face.

Leech

Leech knows that outside the Ferrarium, people eat the flesh of animals. The thought makes her sick; or rather, she expects it to make her sick, and feels guilty when it doesn’t.

The blood girls eat only their garden vegetables, and flatbread, and drink milk from their goats. The life they grow within themselves is only once removed from the pure earth. So long as they remain pure, the blood they give the Honchos is once-removed as well.

This is sacred doctrine, and Leech never questions it. She only wonders, watching the returning Honchos, how all that purity is spent.

Leech

“Doesn’t it hurt?” asks the Honcho.

“No sir,” says Leech, and checks the line: still strong and purple. The blood girl sits up on her stool and stares. Her lips are blue-gray, but she’s not empty yet.

“Hurts me.” He fingers his soaking bandages.

“Careful, sir.”

“Don’t suppose you’d know,” he murmurs. “Only the little ones make enough, so fast…” He’s asleep.

But Leech does know, does remember. She sat here once. She stared straight forward. She can still taste the hot sick broth, after, and the kale, and the hunger for her woman’s blood and freedom that never came.

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