Once upon a time there was a witch and a warlock who fell in love. They lived together in a modest and remote castle, working the land, making essential oils, and giving back to the earth. They were a good witch and warlock who loved their life and wanted nothing more than to share their love and good fortune with others. But most of all, they dreamed of having a tiny magical being of their own. This was not to be. For all their trying, the witch could not become pregnant. They grew herbs to make special teas, mixed up potions for fertility, and even cast spells under the light of the full moon. Nothing worked. The witch’s belly remained empty. The days turned into months, into years, then into decades. A century passed, but no baby came. The witch fell into a deep sadness. She no longer got out of bed and tended to her garden. She no longer sang while strolling through the meadows of wildflowers. She no longer ate until she was full. She cried. She slept. She stared into the nothingness of the night.
Heartbroken to see his love so forlorn, the warlock decided to venture out of the safety of their secluded castle and find a Baba Yaga to heal his wife and give them a child through either light or dark magical means. The day he left, he kissed her and promised to always love her in this world, and the next. He vowed to search eternally for help for his barren wife. He vowed to find a way to give her a child. The witch pleaded with him not to leave. She told him she’d felt something terrible coming his way. He saw it, too, but knew her happiness was more important. She cried and held onto the warlock, but he pushed her away. Before he mounted his stead, he placed a soft kiss on her lips. The warlock embraced the witch’s face in his hands and looked deep into her aqua eyes. He said, “you are my heart. Without you by my side, this muscle in my chest would cease to beat. I will travel to the end of the earth and time to make you happy.” He kissed her again. “If I do not return, always follow your heart.” He removed a long chain that held and small key from his neck and placed it in her hands. “This key opens the lock to the future. It’s been passed down in my family since the beginning of time, bestowed upon those with a purpose to learn. Use it and our love will be for all eternity.”
The witch did not see the warlock alive again.
Monday, October 31, 2022
Wednesday, October 26, 2022
It had been one thousand, four hundred eighty-one years since the calamity known as All Sins Fall, or Sinfall for short. And on this day, the vampire and his holy cleric accomplice are awaiting judgment by the Grand Inquisitor. Today is the day of reckoning.
The mighty steel doors of the keep slammed open in unison with the thunder strike outside, as a violent storm raged on. The dusk brought with it a storm so loud it was almost deafening. Two prisoners wrapped in starsilver chains were violently dragged into the keep towards the inner sanctum. The first, a young girl in her early twenties with long, dirty blonde hair, tied back and dripping wet. Loose, wet bangs covered her filthy face, hiding her green eyes. She was head to toe in regalia of the Knights of the Silver Star. Chain mail armor, wrapped in a silver star crested tunic. Her hands were bound behind her, and a chain clamped to her neck. The girl was aggressively dragged forward towards the Inquisitor.
Behind her followed the second prisoner. He was also bound in chains behind his back, with more chains tied to his neck, leading him forward. This prisoner stood out to the guards stationed along the inner sanctum hall. His pale face, white as marble, contrasted underneath his long jet black hair. His bright sapphire blue eyes were empty and limitless at the same time. It was like looking into a void that filled a person with both sadness and fear. The way he moved forward, led by the chain around his neck, still seemed unnatural and unnerving. Every step he took seemed effortless. He was dressed in a dark cloak with the hood down. Each step he took made the guards uneasy. This man was a vampire.
Vampires were not uncommon to the Knights of the Silver Star. The Order were responsible for waging war against such abominations. Dragons, demons, vampires, and other evil creatures were regularly hunted down and cleansed by the knights. What was shocking to the guard was to see one in the grand halls of the Silver Sanctum. Each guard gave the other an uneasy look, as they knew this was different. Something big was happening before them. Not to mention a member of the Order dragged along with him to answer before the Inquisitor.
A small set of stairs led to a sizeable and imposing limestone throne at the end of the hall. The chair's sculpted armrest was in the shape of an angel kneeling with its wings folded downwards to let you rest your hands on the angel's back between the shoulders. There were blindfolds covering the angel’s eyes. Down on all fours, they were clasping a sword stabbed in the ground beside them. The backrest of the mighty chair had two large wings spanning outward. They give the person sitting there an appearance of having majestic wings. The wings appeared inlaid with starsilver and gold. Upon the chair sat the Grand Inquisitor.
He sat on the throne, awaiting his prisoners’ arrival, looming over them as they approached. He was clad in thick starsilver armor. It looked almost decorative, if not for the battle-scarred dents in parts of it. The blemishes didn't detract from the practically holy glow it gave off. His shoulder pauldrons were shaped to look like griffons’ heads pointing outward, with its wings folding down in front and behind him on either shoulder. The Inquisitor’s chest plate was fashioned to look like that of a fierce lion's head. He had a blue and silver-lined cape flowing behind him. He was unarmed. His weapons were not far away, leaning against this throne. A massive silver Warhammer that looked heavier than the Inquisitor himself sat closest to him. Beside the hammer lay a large, two-handed great sword. Its decorations were hidden as a blue and silver cloak was draped over it.
As the prisoners got closer to the throne, the rain intensified outside. Thunder still crackled in the distance, as lightning flashes filled the room with bursts of light. The light glittered off all the silver decorations, armor, and weapons. The guards looked suspiciously at the vampire to see if the light bothered or hurt him. When he didn't react to the reflections of silver light, the guards collectively tightened the grip on their weapons, ready to strike should the moment call for it. The guards leading the prisoners pulled the chain forward and forced them on their knees.
"Alas, we have the infamous vampire, Alaric Caradoc." The Inquisitor smiled. "I expected an atrocity such as you to have put up a fight or resisted. The fact you have made no attempts to fight, kill or break free suggests you are up to something. Know that your words mean little to me, and you will most likely meet your end this night. And if you thought you could compel me with your neat little mesmerize trick... think again. I'm protected by the light of God and immune to such trickery. If you planned to attack from the inside... your plan has failed. Those silver chains will hold you while you die a quick and final death."
Alaric said nothing. He met the Inquisitor's gaze, the entire time without flinching. He appeared cold as stone. His marble-like skin didn't break a sweat or move.
"You can't kill him! We need his help!" interrupted the young female prisoner, as she tried to rise back to her feet. The guard behind her instinctively struck the back of her legs with his spear, knocking her back down.
"Silence, Yasmina! You are a traitor and a sinner. Conspiring with this creature condemns you to hell. I will end your suffering soon so that God himself can judge your sins. The only reason you still breathe is so I can find out the truth of what happened in the fires of Ghalat. Your mentor, Salazar, was a great hero and deserved to be honored. I will know what happened, and I will put you both to death."
"Not a compelling reason for us to give you answers," replied Alaric. "I expected the Grand Inquisitor to be a better negotiator. For fuck's sake, lie to us or something. Please, tell us if we help you, we may suffer less, or live or something. You sure this is your actual job?"
"Ric, let me handle this, please," said Yasmina in a nervous but stern tone.
"So you and this monster are on a nickname basis, eh? Does he call you Yas or perhaps Mina or something cute? You're nothing but a meal to him. I bet he calls you his little snack." replied the Inquisitor, laughing to himself. He expected more reaction to his sarcastic joke but got nothing.
"To answer your question... Ric, I don't need to lie. Lying is a sin, and men of God do not need to lower themselves to your level. You may not answer my questions honestly... but I will enjoy torturing you either way. And since Yasmina here seems to be fond of you, the more truthful she is, the swifter your death."
"I'm not fond of him," Mina interjected. "He is a monster. But he has information that could help us, and he has agreed to do so if we help him. When he has helped us, I will end his suffering myself."
The Inquisitor took a step towards her and firmly backhanded her to the ground.
"Idiot child," he explained, "we do not help or work with the cursed. Your mentor would be ashamed. Alaric is simply using you and attempting to poison your mind. The only way he can help us is to die in the light's fire. His soul is past redemption. And all that remains is to rid the foul curse from the land, so his sickness doesn't spread and corrupt any more lives."
Alaric tried to remain quiet, as Mina suggested. But he couldn't help himself.
"Do you even hear yourself speak? You sound like a brainwashed twit diddler. If your goal is to end corruption, and someone has a way to help you end it better or faster… doesn't it make sense to at least hear them out?" he asked.
"My goal is to kill you before you taint any more minds. Yasmina was Salazar's brightest pupil. You have corrupted her, and now I have to kill her. Now all I want is to learn his fate, then kill you before you pull off your plan to kill us. You don't fool me, cold one. I know you would kill us the second you get the chance."
The vampire finally showed a glimmer of emotion on his face, and he smiled at the Inquisitor's comments. He shook his head ever so slightly to clear the hair from his face so that the Inquisitor could see his face.
"Yes, and no. I could kill you if I wanted to, right here and now. But would I? It doesn't serve me to kill you all. But the vile plans you think I'm up to require your help. And in exchange... I will help you purge more evil than you could ever do on your own. I could teach you more about our weaknesses and lead you to them. I can help you," Alaric insisted.
The Inquisitor just laughed. He watched as Yasmina crawled up back to her knees, eagerly waiting to see his response. He looked back towards Alaric, still smiling in a smug, confident way.
"You should take your advice, cold one. Now, who is the shit negotiator? You have not provided me a compelling reason to hear you out. You are in silver chains and about to die. I hold the cards, and from where I stand, you are in no position to kill us all, as you claim. Frankly... your kind can't be trusted. Once I have my answers from Yasmina...I will put you to death. If she lies, it will be a drawn- out, painful death. If she doesn't lie, your death will be swift and painless... as will hers,"
Alaric's smile slowly faded to reveal his annoyance as the Inquisitor stubbornly refused him. He pulled his bound hands forward, breaking free of the silver manacles that bound his hands to his back, and quickly grabbed and broke the silver ring around his neck.
"Listen, you know fuck all about vampires. If I wanted you dead I'd have killed you and everyone in this tacky room already. Her included." he said as he pointed towards Mina, still shackled beside him.
The guards immediately drew all their weapons and pointed them at Alaric. The Inquisitor stepped back, reaching for his Warhammer behind him. His eyes locked on the vampire in disbelief at what he had just seen. He tried to hide his panic, but he couldn't. Silver was a weakness from all his experience and training with prior vampires. It should have stopped him from being able to use his unholy strength. Or any of his vampire powers. He knew each vampire's powers could differ significantly, but they had all been weak against Starsilver until now.
Alaric raised his arms high to show he wasn't about to attack. "Relax, I do not intend to fight you. Now lower your weapons before I change my mind," Alaric said.
All the guards looked to the Grand Inquisitor for direction. He nodded and raised a hand to indicate they could lower their weapons. He still grabbed his hammer and brought it in front of him, but left the hammer's head firmly on the ground before him.
Alaric thought it was comical that a man so devoted and sure of his God's protection would need to cling to his weapon, as if it were a comforting blanket a babe might need to fall asleep at night. But he decided not to mock the man, as he could see he might be making progress after all.
"Alright, vampire, you have my attention. We still have things to learn of your kind. You could have surprised attacked us at will, or at very least escaped with your life, yet didn't. I wouldn't be doing my job as Inquisitor if I didn't at least try to learn why."
"I know you have no reason to trust me, nor can I give you a compelling reason to. But so long as your knights don't attack me, I will spare them. I will also not attempt to flee till you have heard our proposition. After that, you may do as you wish,"
"And if I still wish to remove your head?" asked the Inquisitor.
"You are welcome to try," said the vampire, as his smile playfully returned, "but first, I suggest you at least listen to Mina's story of how we got here. And then I can explain how I may be able to help you. Besides, you wanted to learn of dear old Salazar's fate, didn't you?"
The Inquisitor looked annoyed, but the vampire was correct. He had questions he needed answers to—both for himself and the church.
"Fine. But we will take you to separate interrogation rooms, and I will uncover your scheme, vampire. And once I've learned all I need, we will sacrifice you to God."
Friday, October 21, 2022
Thursday, October 20, 2022
Evangeline stood up and sighed. She started to walk down the street in the direction of the Duke’s house, done her trailing for the night, when she heard a voice behind her, “Did you expect to track someone who is already tracking you?”
She turned to see Josepina standing in the middle of the road in a blue gown with blue and gold embroidery along its hemlines and birds of all sizes and shapes embroidered into every spot and space on it. Looking at the dress Evangeline wondered how Josepina stalked her so inconspicuously. Did she go around town hiding in holes?
“Yeah, I guess I was a little optimistic in my skills,” Evangeline said.
“Not a little,” Josepina said, “You must know something about me now. I could lead his highness in eternal circles, Evangeline. You would have more chances tracking him, actually. So why is it that you hoped to find me?”
“Well, I guess I was just practising tracking...” Josepina was looking at her with an amused smile. Evangeline knew that Josepina could sense if she was full of shit. Obviously Evangeline could have practised on anyone. She changed approaches,
“Well, I guess I’ve never known a lady of...pleasure?”
Josepina’s smile grew broader, “And what do you hope to learn from me?”
Evangeline’s face turned red, “Nothing, actually. I guess I was just curious about you because you have so much more life in you than most people here. You still talk about everything and seem to think about everything. It’s…. rare. And your clothes...how do you do it?”
“That is a much more interesting question than I thought you had,” Josepina said, “the dress...well, I create them out of hunger during the day with whatever materials I find. Crocheting and embroidering is time consuming. A perfect activity. Dressing up is also time consuming. Another perfect activity. Though I think most find the contrast of the bright clothing and their own ugliness something of a depressing reality.”
Josepina looked up at the night sky and then at Evangeline, “I will walk with you to the Duke’s” She began to walk and Evangeline stepped up beside her.
“The way we are now,” Josepina continued, “vampires as you like to call us, is a stagnant way. We cannot change, on the outside or the inside. You have seen that Ehvan can memorize facts, but his mind will always be that of a child. The inner maturation of his brain is related to the physical changes that happen within it. Something that cannot happen in this state. Someone whose mind was not very...developed...before, will not develop much now. They will know more facts. Learn skills. But they will not grow inside as humans.”
“I suppose my goal was always to understand other humans and through that to understand and know myself. I never considered that it was anything unusual, but looking around me now, I see that it is a rare goal.”
“I wonder what I would be like as one of you,” Evangeline said offhandedly.
“An odd thing to wonder after seeing us,” Josepina said, “though the fact that you actually thought to ponder this means that you would do better than most. You have almost no sixth sense ability but you have more depth than most pretty, young girls.
“Thank you. You know, I didn’t think you liked me much, to be honest.”
“I’m still deciding,” Josepina smiled a little shrewdly, “However, you stood in front of a city of beings that could rip you apart and you were able to look at us and speak to us as if we were still people. I respect that. Respect is more important than like.”
Evangeline let a couple minutes pass in silence before she asked the next question,“So, is it really true about the physical intimacy? I mean, is it impossible for you now?”
Josepina looked at her with that half-curious, half-knowing look and Evangeline quickly added, “I’m just wondering since there are some married couples that I have seen...”
Evangeline was doing her utmost to convince her face not to turn red. Of course she wasn’t just curious out of the blue. She was in an unspoken, apparently platonic, bed-sharing arrangement with a male whom she wanted to kick in the head for the majority of each night while at the same time looking forward to each morning in his room. Every day, when she put down her book and climbed under the covers she lay stiff and anxious, wondering if he would lie down beside her, knowing that he occasionally did, but never being awake when it happened.
Josepina’s lips curled into a wide, knowing smile and killed any chance Evangeline had of keeping the colour on her face normal.
Onyx existed in a constant state of guilt over what she considered to be stealing the best years of Noah’s life. What some would call robbing the cradle or being what was currently called a cougar.
It was the opposite of the norm, in which men had a tendency to date and marry younger women.
When Onyx brought up the topic, Noah pointed out how it was no longer a big deal for couples to have differences in their age. “Age is just a number,” Noah would say, having pointed out the age difference between Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. “She’s like 15 years older than he is.”
First, Onyx had absolutely no idea who these people were since she never watched television. And the 15-year age difference paled in comparison to their ages since Onyx was 114 and Noah was still in his 30s.
The thing that made the age difference livable, no pun intended, was that ghosts appeared as the age they were on the day they died and returned as their perfect selves. No scars or blemishes or wrinkles. Even severed limbs reappeared.
She may have been 114 years old, but in terms of appearance, Onyx looked 39.
And as a ghost, she would be 39 forever.
Assuming she could get the energy.
Onyx watched as Noah took advantage of the last bit of daylight, shirt off—sweating and swearing when the rocks wouldn’t fit together—his skin glistening with sweat and red with color.
Onyx held up her hand and examined it. Unlike Noah’s, her skin was gray. Transparent.
When she held the hand up to her face, she could see right through it.
Tonight, she would go to the hospital and see if there was anyone whose time had come. If there wasn’t, she would go into town and look for an addict shooting up in a dark alley—the kind that could be found in all towns, even small ones like Crimson Cove.
She had no problem taking drug addicts. They were killing themselves, anyway. If they wanted to die, she was happy to help them along.
Those who were young and healthy? No. Onyx’s code would not allow it. They were off-limits.
And children? Never.
Onyx walked to the opposite side of the lighthouse and peered out toward the water, seeing thin red lines of red forming as the sun was being slowly swallowed by the ocean.Soon it would be dark. It was time.