The woman returned holding something small in the cup of her hand. She sat down and showed Rogério what she was holding. He picked it up carefully, running his fingers lightly over the object. It was a small statue made of soft stone or maybe bone. It was about the height of his thumb and it depicted a ample woman with large breasts, rounded hips and no facial features. He’d seen similar images before, it was some sort of primitive goddess.
“First, there was the Mother,” said Emerenciana. “She was human, but the tribes around her believed her to be a goddess for the things she could do none of them could.
“People would bring her offerings; the first meat from the hunt, the best fruits from the crops, drops of blood from the children passing into adulthood. In return, she offered them her own blood when they were sick or injured and her blood would strengthen and heal them.”
“The way Melisandra’s blood healed me.”
Emerenciana shook her head. “Melisandra’s story will come late. This one is about the Mother and her three children. The oldest and the youngest were boys and the middle child was a girl. Everyday, the mother would feed a few drops of her own blood and they grew stronger and fairer than anyone around them.
“The chieftain of one of the tribes knew of this and he decided that he would have the blood of the Mother and become a god himself, but he feared the strength and the powers of the children and so he waited and plotted. One day, when the two youngest were away, the chieftain and his men attacked the cave where the Mother lived. The Elder Son was killed and the Mother was taken away.
“When the Middle Child and the Young One returned, they found their brother’s dead body and the signs of struggle and understood what had come to pass. The Young One became mad with fury and he gave chase to the attackers of his family.
“He found them in their village. They had bled the Mother and consumed her blood, but it hadn’t made them gods. They had become the first of the ghouls; contorted creatures, not quite animals, not quite men, maddened with pain and with hunger for the flesh of the dead.
“The Young One fell upon them and slaughtered many. When he lost his weapon in battle, he continued his attack, biting them and tearing them apart with his bare hands, until there was no one alive around him.
“The Middle Child had given her older brother her blood, as she had seen the Mother do so many times, in the hope that he would be healed, but the Elder Son was dead, not merely injured. She laid her brother in a bier by the fire and prepared to watch over him until his soul had made the crossing into what lay beyond.
“The Young One returned. His mouth, his arms and his chest were stained with the blood of the changed warriors. He was ill, feverish, poisoned by the blood of the ghouls. The Middle Child made him a bed of leaves by the fire and covered him with animal pelts.
“She watched over both of them for the rest of the night, and the whole of the next day. At sunset, they both rose. The Elder son became the first of the vampires and the Young One the first of the weres.”
“Weres?” Rogério smiled. “You mean werewolves?”
“Not all of them are wolves,” said Melisandra. “You are a vampire. Why are you so surprised that werewolves exist?”
He nodded. It was silly. “ What happened to the Middle Child? She became the first of the ghosts?”
The women laughed. “No,” said Emerenciana. “She became me.”