I took the small books, bound in cracked red leather, and read the titles, both in Italian. I read them out loud slowly, uncomprehending. The only Italian word I knew was ‘ciao’.
“Infettare Sangue,” there was that word again, “and Pedina ed sangue bevito : un trasformazione?”
I looked up, scepticism plain on my face, but Willow reached out and flipped both books open to pages marked with bits of frayed black ribbon. I read them both as quickly as I could, though I didn’t know the meaning of the Italian headings.
Once bitten, the victim ‘s blood is infiltrated with venom. The venom works its way around the body of the host, gradually changing the DNA in the cells until the victim is no longer human. Complete transformation takes exactly thirteen days, or 312 hours, from the moment of being bitten. If an antidote is not administered before then, the change is permanent and forever irreversible. Unless the victim wishes to take the form, not acting against the change is inadvisable.
During the thirteen days, the victim’s being will fluctuate due to the venom conquering human cells. The victim may have many human and nightwalker traits at the same time whilst the change is taking place. The victims are commonly known as infettare, or infected, because of the venom in their blood. The results of the change are worse than the situation in which a person is bitten by some venomous creature of the Earth, such as a snake or spider.
Fase di Incubazione
When a human is infected with a virus or bacteria, the time between the infection and the appearing of symptoms is known as the incubation period. This term is also applied to the thirteen days from the biting of the victim to the complete transformation into a nightwalker. During this “incubation period”, several events will occur which may cause the victim to suffer a brief amnesia. The victim will remain 99% human during daylight hours and will remember nothing, while still retaining a few nightwalker traits such as enhanced agility and speed and loss of appetite for human food. From midnight, almost complete nightwalker will take over, but at the first rays of dawn they will forget everything until the next midnight.
During the incubation period, the victim may be controlled by its master, the nightwalker who inflicted the bite; over the centuries many have created armies of these as mindless servants, from whence the term “zombie” came. However of course, the servants would have to be replaced every thirteen days and once they became full nightwalkers there was no further use for them. This is where the Eternals stepped in because they would not condone murder of part of one of their own immortal species.
During this phase, the victim’s potential will be at its fullest - both magic and strength and intelligence at their most powerful. This was a most desirable trait for a serving army to have, but building such an army was outlawed on pain of death for the creators. In the modern age, human victims must be killed fully for feeding. Leaving a bitten human alive is against Eternal Law.
Most sources would say that an antidote should be taken before the conclusion of the thirteen days; however nobody in existing knowledge has taken the antidote after longer than eight days - therefore it is unknown whether later than that the change will have progressed too far and the antivenom will have no effect.
I looked up in time to see Willow and Meena communicating silently, casting glances at me and the books in my hands. Meena cut off mouthing the word, “prepared” as she saw me look up. She smiled quickly to cover it up.
I swallowed and closed the books, handing them back to Willow, who stashed them swiftly back in her pocket.