The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 18

Madalina’s room was on the left side of the building, facing the wall.  In fact, all that could be seen from her room was a close-up of the stones and mortar, which comprised their entire view.  The roof of the novitiate was pitched, with the sloped edges on the left and right and a gable in the front.  The edge of the roof had a slight overhang, which Madalina would have to reach from her window.  It was too high to reach standing on the window’s ledge, which meant she would have to stand on top something.

“Go find another Sister who’s not busy and I want you two to stand underneath the window’s ledge to catch her if she falls,” Sister Oana instructed, “Get a blanked or something and then you’ll stretch it out to catcher her.  It’ll be just like catching fruit from a shaken tree.  Alright?”

Sister Elisabeta nodded her head and walked in the direction of the nun’s quarters.

Madalin and Sister Oana then entered the novitiate, walked down the hall and entered Madalina’s room.

Madalina’s roommates, Dorina, Mirela and Nicoleta were in the room, reading and gossiping in turns.  When they saw Sister Oana entering they all abruptly ended their conversation and stood up, saying obediently, “Yes, Sister?”

“I don’t need your help at the moment girls,” Sister Oana said, “This concerns your roommate, Madalina.  She is going to demonstrate how she’s been climbing out of her room onto the roof at night while you are asleep?”

The girls looked at each other surprised.  “You haven’t noticed, have you?” Sister Oana asked.

“We would always tell you if we saw anyone breaking any of the rules,” Mirela said, obediently

“Well I’m sure you wouldn’t hide anything about Madalina,” Sister Oana said, quietly, to herself.  The girls then looked at Madalina warily, but Madalina averted her eyes.

The window was a double casement window, with the two separate casements swinging inwards and two shutters on the exterior swinging outward.  Sister Oana opened the window and looked out of it downward, waiting for Sister Elisabeta to arrive.  Within a few minutes Sister Elisabeta and Sister Juliana arrived, holding a blanket.  They stretched out the blanket and said to Sister Oana that they were ready.

Sister Oana then told Madalina, “You may proceed,” gesturing for Madalina to step up to the window.

As Madalina stood up on the ledge, she looked down.  The dirt ground, where Sisters Elisabeta and Juliana waited with their outstretched sheets, was some twelve palms below her.  It was a fall she could safely make, but it was still intimidating for the small girl.  When she had first tried to sneak out of the convent, she had opted against climbing out the window precisely because it was too high to climb back in that way.

Standing on the window’s ledge, Madalina stretched out her foot, which just reached the exterior wall, and she used the seem between the stones as a foothold to push herself up, so that she could place her other foot atop the shutter.  With one foot on the wall and one foot on the shutter, she slowly extended herself, straightening her legs and standing up.  She transferred all her weight to the shutter and balanced herself with her hands, but still quivered precariously.  She had assumed that the shutter would hold her weight, but she could not be certain until she was fully extended and it was still attached.  At that point, she could just reach the overhanging eave of the roof, but it was too much of a stretch to pull herself up entirely that way.  So, she had to wedge her two feet between the wall of the novitiate and the exterior wall and slowly walk herself upward while simultaneously pressing against these two walls.  After several steps of this slow walk, she could finally pull her whole torso on top of the wood roof, and then pull her legs up behind her.  She relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief at this completion.  Her climb had been tentative and awkward, but she had proven her point and trusted that Sister Oana would finally drop.

She walked up the steep side of the pitched roof onto the other side where she lay down and looked up to the sky as if she were watching the stars.  It was certainly not a comfortable place to lie and look up at stars, nor a safe place to fall asleep, since it was so steep, but it made her story seem plausible enough.

Sister Oana had already walked out into the courtyard and was looking at Madalina lying on the roof with suspicion.

Madalina then stood up and considered how to get down.  The wall walk atop the wall was only a short jump away, but this would be inconvenient, since the stairs leading down to ground level were outside the confines of the monastery.  So she walked down to the edge of the roof, where she could see Sisters Elisabeta and Juliana still waiting.  Deciding to take the leap, she dropped into the outstretched blanket, and the Sisters expertly cushioned her fall such that she pillowed gently to the ground.

Sister Elisabeta hastily picked up Madalina off the ground and hugged her so tightly, saying, “Are you unhurt my dear?  Oh you frightened me dreadfully.  I’m glad you’re not hurt.”

As they turned, though, they saw Sister Oana standing petulantly in the distance looking on.  “You’ve proven yourself then,” Sister Oana said, “But there’s still the issue of your punishment.”

<-- Go to Part 17         Go to Part 19 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 17

Madalina sat on the floor with her head between her knees, in an attempt to concentrate her thinking.  She was trying to reason through exactly what she would tell Sisters Elisabeta and Oana when they returned, but her mind was stubbornly uncooperative.

After an altogether insufficient number of minutes, though, the sound of footsteps moving down the stairs could be heard in the crypt where Madalina sat.  She looked up and the two women in their black habits and apostolniks walked towards her.

Sister Elisabeta cheerily told Oana, “I’m sure this’ll end all suspicion.”  Then she turned to Madalina, “Isn’t that right, dear?”

“Yes,” Madalina said, with her faux-innocent smile, “I’m rather embarrassed that I wasn’t more forthright from the beginning.”  Then Madalina lowered her eyes and blushed with apparent sheepishness.

“What is it then,” Sister Oana asked, impatient and unaffected.

“Well, you see, Sister, it started about two or three weeks ago.  I started sneaking out at night, when I discovered,” Madalina explained, “That I could watch the stars from the roof of the novitiate.  The first time, I remember, was one of those nights when I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking of my dear parents and wondering about where they are and how they’re doing.  I wanted to see the stars, and got the idea that the view would be phenomenal from the roof.  So, I attempted the climb and discovered that it was truly beautiful up there.  And so I did it a few more times when I was troubled at night.”

The mention of Madalina’s family made Sister Elisabeta’s brow furrow with sadness, “I never realized you thought about your family.  I just assumed, since they left you here when you were so young and you never really knew them, that you wouldn’t concern yourself with them.”

“Yes,” Madalina admitted dolefully and again lowered her eyes sheepishly, “As for last night, I was also on the roof.  I guess I may have passed out from fatigue because I didn’t really notice the passage of time and didn’t hear the call for Midnight Office.”

“Oh, my dear!  I’m so glad you told us.  I knew it was something quite innocent that had been blown out of proportion,” Sister Elisabeta said with pathos and sensitivity.  She then shifted to a sterner voice and added, “But you know we can’t allow you to do this or go unpunished.  This is dangerous and it is against the rules to be out at night.  We shall have to remind you that our rules are not to be treated lightly.”

Sister Oana though scrutinized Madalina’s face, imagining that perhaps she could find some twitch or movement on her face that would give away the deceit if she stared hard enough.  Sister Oana finally asked, “So, if you’ve climbed up on this roof several times, you must be quite adept, right?  So you wouldn’t mind demonstrating for us how you performed this climb?”

“Certainly Not!” Sister Elisabeta burst out in shock, “She’s already risked herself enough!  We don’t need her to risk breaking her neck one more time!”

But Sister Oana silenced Elisabeta by raising her hand.  “You’ve done it easily enough, some few times.  You can do it again.  It’ll prove you aren’t lying.  I can’t just take you at your word.  You’ve lied to me before.”

“I’ll swear by the bible, and by my faith in Jesus that I am telling the truth,” Madalina said.

“I won’t have you profaning the bible or your faith,” Sister Oana said, “Come now.  This’ll prove it quite adequately.”

Sister Oana then pulled Madalina up off the ground with two hands and led her up the stairs out of the crypt.

As they stepped out of the church, into the courtyard, Madalina gazed across the courtyard at the novitiate and got a good look at the task ahead of her.  From where she stood, she could see why Sister Oana was having a hard time believing Madalina: climbing from her window to the roof would make for a difficult climb.

<-- Go to Part 16         Go to Part 18 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 16

While riding her horse on the road towards Vallaya at a moderate canter, Ileana passed Lucian’s coach galloping out of town.  She waved to Lucian, who was seated in the back, with Beniamin sitting opposite.  He just saw her and returned the wave before continuing the apparently heated diatribe he was engaged in.  She watched him disappear as the coach drove on by in a cloud of dust.

Upon steering her horse into their stable in the back of Andrei’s apothecary shop, she left it with their groom, and entered her and Andrei’s residence from the back.  Andrei was, as expected, behind the counter of the apothecary shop, and she greeted him from behind with a warm hug and a kiss.

Ileana was a young beauty, some two decades Andrei’s junior, who he’d been married to for several years now.  Andrei had, for most of his life, considered himself to be an affirmed bachelor, wedded to his business, with no time for domestic cares.  Ileana was the one woman capable of persuading him otherwise.  She had become his partner in love and in business. Even though she didn’t have the aptitude (or the stomach) for, the messier parts of his business – namely the butchering of vampires and the preparation of the vampire medicines – she was an invaluable asset on the business side of their operation. She had always been the better salesperson: now just returning from a sales trip, in which she’d made deliveries, contacted buyers, established new connections.

“No troubles on the roads?  Didn’t encounter any danger?” Andrei asked her after their greeting, “And was it a lucrative trip?”

She shook her he at the first questions and nodded at the last.

“I really don’t like you risking your life on these dangerous roads.  With all the thieves and highwaymen out there, a lone woman is vulnerable,” Andrei said.

“But you have no skill with people,” she laughed, “If we put you on the road and had you negotiate with these people, our business would fail.”

She told him some of the details of her meetings and sales.  Then she said, “And when I was just arriving here, I saw Lucian heading out of here in a hurry with Beniamin.”

“Ah yes,” Andrei nodded, “He’s visiting all the nearby villages, in the hopes of selling them on his vampire peace accord.  The vampires have got a fairly large hunting ground, so far as I know.  So he’s going to have to make a number of stops.  He’ll probably be gone for weeks.”  Andrei then explained what’d happened while she was away: Lucian’s discussion with the vampires, Vasile’s latest kill, and his own progress with processing it.

Then he ended by telling her about Vasile’s interest in an apprentice: “I’ve told everyone, and the word has spread.  It’s now common knowledge in town, but, so far, no one’s expressed any interest.”

“Who would want to take on such a job?  What parent would want to let their child do it,” Ilean said, shaking her head, “We pay Vasile a generous ransom and he has a king’s hoard of gold stashed away, but for what?  The job is dangerous.  I don’t know how many vampire hunters have disappeared into the bellies of the vampires over the years.  It can only be a matter of time before they finally get Vasile and whatever apprentice he takes on.”

“Well, we’ll see,” Andrei said.

“Do you want to bet?”

“What are we betting?”

“Just boasting rights.”

“You’re on,” Andrei replied, “I do hope I win, for our sake at least.  Whatever has kept Vasile alive for so long he needs to teach to someone.  Before he’s dead.  But it all may be just for naught, if Lucian gets his way.”

“All the more reason why someone would be stupid to take on such an apprenticeship and you’re stupid to make that bet,” Ileana said.

Ileana, though, turned out to be wrong.  As the morning passed over into noon and Ileana reclined in her room, the shop was visited by an unexpected guest.

Approaching with caution and circumspection, Anton, a boy in his late teens, knocked on the door of the shop.  Andrei opened it to the lad, whom he recognized.  He was a sturdy boy, inured to the hard physical labor of his father’s farm, a boy who always walked with confidence, even a little bit of swagger.  When he entered, he wore the ragged clothes of a farmer’s boy and wiped the fresh dirt on his calloused hands off onto his shirt.

There was a well-dressed customer in the shop when Anton entered, and Anton sat down on one of the well-stuffed chairs, hiding his face.  He waited for the man to leave, before he approached Andrei.

“Can I help you Anton?” Andrei asked.

Anton leaned over the counter and said confidentially to Andrei, “I need to speak of something private with you.”

Andrei was a bit surprised and perplexed, since he only knew Anton by face – not at all on a personal level – and had he never really talked with him.

“We’re alone right now,” Andrei said, looking around, “You can tell me anything in complete confidence.”

After a deep breath, and a quick look around to see if they truly were alone, Anton said, “I want to be Vasile’s apprentice.  I’ve heard he needs one, and I’ve thought about it.  I’m the best huntsman for a hundred leagues, and he’d be a damn fool to reject me.”

“He’ll be pleased to hear it,” Andrei said nodding with approval.  “But why all the secrecy?” Anton didn’t answer the question, so Andrei ventured, “You want to keep this a secret from your father, don’t you?  A hard man.  Not the most understanding person.”

Anton nodded in agreement.  Andrei cautioned, though, “You can’t keep this a secret forever, though.  You’re going to be out every night with Vasile.  Surely you don’t think you can sneak out and hunt every night and work during the day?  You need to sleep.”

“Sleep is for the weak,” Anton boasted facetiously, “Just ask Vasile if he’ll take me.  If he says ‘yes’ then I can broach telling my father.  If he says ‘no’ though, then this will be a secret between you and me.  Can you do that for me?”

“Easily and eagerly,” Andrei nodded.  Anton then hastily said his goodbye and left the shop, hustling to return to his father’s farm.

Andrei then yelled into the house so Ileana could here him, gloating, “Ha, ha.  You were wrong.  You were so wrong today.”

<-- Go to Part 15         Go to Part 17 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 15

Sister Oana dragged Madalina into the church and through the nave, to a door on the sidewall.  After unlocking the door, they walked down the spiraling stairs, their steps echoing on the stone walls, until the large open space of the crypt opened up before them.  It was a single room partitioned by an array of columns connected by archways, in the center of which several of the most prominent tombs were inset into the floor.  Off to the side were several recesses filled with tombs, dug into the walls, all engraved with the names and dates of their occupants.  Everyone who lived and worked on the grounds of the monastery had been buried here, since there was no room for any cemetery within the walls of the monastery, and no was willing to risk being buried outside the walls and being desecrated by the vampires.

Sister Oana, crossing the room, then threw Madalina into one of the recesses.  This recess had an iron gate that’s spiky top nearly touched the archway at the top.  Oana closed and secured the gate with a lock, interning Madalina inside.  She was apparently not the first occupant of this ad hoc dungeon since there were numerous separate pieces graffiti scratched onto the wall.

“You’ll be let out, when you start telling us the truth,” Sister Oana shouted to Madalina, “And no sooner!  I’ll give you until morning to reflect upon your choice.”

Sister Oana then walked out of the crypt with candle in hand, climbing the stairs to the door.  As she moved further away, the light retreated and faded until Madalina was left in absolute dark.

As morning rose, some light slowly entered the room, via a small air vent, high up on the wall.  Madalina woke from an uncomfortable sleep, with aches all over her body.  Almost immediately upon opening her eyes, she started to meditate on her situation.

The dilemma was simple.  If she refused to tell the sisters that she had left the monastery the night before, she would remain locked up for at least long enough that she wouldn’t be able to leave to meet with the vampire the night following.  If she did tell them that she had left the monastery and how she’d gotten out, then they’d probably assure that that exit was closed to her permanently.  The only choices that appeared were to claim that she’d left the monastery by some other means or to convincingly claim that she was hidden somewhere else that Sister Oana may have missed.  Unfortunately, she didn’t know any other way to leave and return back into the monastery undetected at night and she knew of no hiding place that might have escaped Sister Oana’s detection.

In the middle of these meditations, the door from above was opened and a pair of feet walked down the stairs into the crypt.  Madalina saw with delight that it was Sister Elisabeta.  Elisabeta was Madalina’s favorite of all the Sisters.  She was in fact all of the young novices’ and perhaps everyone’s favorite monastic.  Elisabeta was a young, beautiful woman, freshly blossomed into adulthood who’d taken the veil at a young age, being tonsured when she was only eighteen, and who had now already lived for many years in monastic service.  She was sweet and pleasant and took great pleasure in generosity and service.

Elisabeta smiled warmly as she opened the gate and placed a bowl of porridge and a bit of bread in front of Madalina, saying, “Here’s your breakfast Madalina.”  Then she discretely placed a chamber pot on the floor next to Madalina.

As Madalina ate, Elisabeta said, in her warm and delicate way, “You’ve been a very bad girl Madalina.  And I’m afraid that, though God may forgive all things, Sister Oana does not.”

“So, does this mean, you’ll let me out?” Madalina asked.

“No, we can’t do that,” Elisabeta admitted with disappointment, “Sister Oana has talked to the Abbess, and she is as concerned as her that there may be something you’re hiding.  I don’t know what they suspect, but it is serious.  And you could assuage their fears if you simply told us the truth, and we could let you out of this awful place.  Why don’t you simply tell me what happened?”

Madalina nodded her head and said, “Alright Sister Elisabeta, I’ll tell you.  Or, maybe you should go get Sister Oana, and while you’re away I’ll finish here.  I’m terribly hungry.”

Sister Elisabeta was pleased to hear this.  She smiled and lighted to her feet, saying, “I’ll leave you a few minutes, but I’ll be back with Sister Oana soon, and then we can get you out of here.”

Once Elisabeta left, Madalina doubled the intensity of her cogitations.  She’d bought herself a few minutes, but she still didn’t know what to say.

<-- Go to Part 14         Go to Part 16 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 14

Sister Oana, holding a candle in one hand and holding Madalina’s wrist in the other, led the way towards the kitchen.

When they peered in, there opened for them, in the dim light, a large-sized room, amply stocked for feeding the many dozens of people that ate in the monastery.  There was a large fireplace with a place for hanging pots for cooking the stew and porridge that were the main part of their diet, as well as a smaller hearth beside it for bread-making.  Bricked into the walls were a number of storage shelves filled with dishware and cookware, with counters on top for food prep and above them pots and pans hanging on hooks on the wall.  In the center of the room was a wooden table, also used for food prep, with sacks of food stored beneath it.

Madalina quickly looked through the room for the potato sack, which she hoped was there.  The room was a poor place to hide, as she now realized.  About the only good hiding place she could see was behind a barrel of ale, which she chastised herself for not thinking of.  And she especially chastised when she finally found the potato sack in the corner.  Their potato stock was running low and there only remained about twenty potatoes in the sack.  It was certainly not big enough to hide behind.

An onion sack was near it and it was almost full and Madalina crawled behind it, mostly concealing herself.  “I hid like this,” Madalina said, biting her lips, hoping that Sister Oana wouldn’t notice that it wasn’t the potato sack.

Sister Oana though looked at her incredulously, “So, now it’s the onion sack you hid behind?  So you expect me to forget that you said the potato sack earlier?  And you expect me not to notice that the potato sack is almost empty?  You are a liar!”

“I simply misspoke, Sister Oana,” Madalina said meekly.

Sister Oana was not swayed by Madalina’s contrite posture and benign-sounding voice.  She grabbed Madalina forcefully by the wrist, pulling her towards her and then smacked her repeatedly on the behind with her hand.  Madalina screamed with pain.

“You out to be thankful that I do not have my paddle at hand you lying little brat!” Sister Oana yelled.  Then she noticed a large serving spoon hanging on the wall, and figured that it would do.  She then proceeded to start whacking Madalina’s behind with the spoon, until Madalina’s bottom was raw with pain.

“Are you going to tell me where you were?” Sister Oana yelled, repeating it several times while Madalina cried uncontrollably.

Sister Oana finally stopped and dragged Madalina out of the room, asked her, “Do you know what we do with lying little troublemakers like you?”  Madalina wasn’t able to say anything between her sobs, so Sister Oana said, entering the church, “We take them to the crypt and leave them there until they repent.”

<-- Go to Part 13         Go to Part 15 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 13

After watching the vampire leave, Madalina finally started to walk briskly back towards the monastery.  She wanted to hurry, since she had been talking to the vampire for longer than she could afford.

As she approached the imposing exterior walls and the great gateway, she again waited for the sentries to be out of sight before she approached the door.  Then she pulled it slowly open, squeezed through, and closed it.  She put the door beams back in place and finally squeezed through the hole into the courtyard.

As soon as she entered the courtyard, she looked in the direction of the church, and fear suddenly spread inside of her.  There was candlelight in the church, indicating that it was already time for Midnight Office, the earliest morning service.  Had she been gone so long?  Everyone would be in the church and her absence must assuredly have been noticed.  She ran to her room to throw her cloak off and put it under her sheets, putting on her cassock and apostolnik over her pajamas.  Then she ran down the hall towards the church. Of a sudden, she saw Sister Oana blocking her path and she yelped loudly.

“Madalina why were you not in your room?” Sister Oana scolded with great displeasure.

“I was just out,” Madalina said meekly and innocently, “walking the grounds, Sister Oana.”

“No, you were not just wandering the grounds,” Sister Oana shouted, grabbing Madalina by the wrist and pulling her towards the church, “I went out looking for you.  I searched everywhere.  Where were you?”

“I was hiding in the kitchen.  I went there because I was hungry and…”

“I looked in the kitchen,” Sister Oana cut her off before she could continue, “You weren’t there.  Don’t lie to me.”

“I hid from you, of course, when I heard you coming,” Madalina said quickly.

“Really, my dear?  You want to continue in this lie?  Just tell me where exactly you could hide that I wouldn’t see you,” Sister Oana demanded.

Madalina had seen the inside of the kitchen many times, when she had to bring food to and from it for the sisters.  But it had been awhile and she wasn’t that familiar with what was in there now.  She hastily tried to picture a place to hide.  After a bit too much hesitation she ventured a guess and said, “Behind the potato sack.” She bit her lip as she said this, not knowing whether it was possible to hide behind the potato sack or even if there currently was a potato sack in the kitchen at all.

Reaching the large wooden double doors of the church, Sister Oana opened them and said, “You missed the service, but at least you can take a moment to pray pray, and then we are going to find out whether you are being honest or not.”  Sister Oana then pushed Madalina into the church.

Madalina walked down the church’s center aisle, between the rows of pews.  The nuns, on the one side, sat together as a group, while on the other side, the young novices clumped into a few small cliques.  Madalina was not permitted to join with any of them.  These included a clique of older girls, in their twenties and up, who disliked intermingling with the younger novices.  Then there were the youngest three girls, all age ten and younger, who stuck together to protect themselves against the cruelties of the older girls. And then there were Madalina’s three roommates: Dorina, Nicoleta and Mirela.  They weren’t quite old enough to be included with the older girls, but old enough to look down upon Madalina, who was only twelve.  They probably wouldn’t have been so hostile to Madalina, except that they were forced to share a room with her, and always resented her for it.

The three of them were on their knees between the pews with hands clasped in front of their bowed heads.  The service was already finished, and they were finishing off with a few moments of silent prayer.  Their lips moved silently as they mouthed the syllables of prayer they spoke in their minds.  But when they heard Madalina approaching, they all turned their heads and looked up at her with triumph.  She’d been out of her room, and they’d told Sister Oana about it, looking forward to Madalina’s punishment.  Madalina tried to kneel down next to them, but they quickly shuffled to the side to prevent her.

Madalina knelt down by herself and began to pray.  At first her thoughts led to her immediate concerns, and she prayed that she would permitted to leave this monastery and join the vampires and her lie wouldn’t be discovered.  Then her thoughts strayed to her parents, and she earnestly prayed, “God, please protect my father and mother, if they are still alive.  And if they are not alive, I pray that you shall let them join you in heaven.”

Her prayers were abruptly cut short, though, when everyone stood up and started leaving.  She followed them and left with the crowd.  But as she came to the door, Sister Oana snatched her and said, “Now to the kitchen.  We’re going to see if you were lying.”

<-- Go to Part 12         Go to Part 14 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 12

Madalina had a way of imposing her will on others and pushing them to submit.  Her voice was commanding and she spoke with an authority that demanded to be heard, if not obeyed.  Such that, when she asked the vampire to listen to her, he became silent.

“I’ve been looking for you!” she boldly declared, “I want to become a vampire.”

There was a moment of silence before the vampire burst out in a haughty laugh.  “People do not ask to become vampires,” he said in a mocking, derisive tone, “This is not a church.  We do not baptize into our coven all comers.”

Madalina stood up and stepped forward from behind the tree.  “To whom do you permit membership, then?” Madalina asked.

“You don’t understand (witless toddler), because you are a fool who can’t see the whole world outside her trivial life,” the vampire said with disdain, “I didn’t ask to become a vampire.  I was infected. When I was a boy, my family was attacked.  I retaliated against a vampire and he infected me when I scratched him.  Because he infected me he was forced to take care of me.  If I infected you, I’d have to take care of you.  And I don’t want to take care of a daft urchin like you.”

“What do you want?” Madalina asked, unfazed.

“Bodies,” he said, “Living, breathing bodies.  Young bodies.  Like you.  That’s obviously why I’m out here?  Is it not obvious what this net is for?  Even you can’t be that idiotic?”

“What if I brought you bodies? Living bodies?” Madalina quickly replied, “Then would you let me in?”

The vampire looked like he was about to say “no,” but he didn’t.  He stopped himself, uncertain, his body swaying back and forth as if he both wanted to accept and reject the proposal.  “Who?” he finally asked, “And Why should that be better than just taking you now?”

Madalina coyly smiled and said, “Because you’re not going to take me.  You can’t catch me.  Not alive at least,” and then paused.  She then added with a sly look on her face,  “And you don’t want to infect me.  No, you won’t be able to get me without doing that.  I won’t let you.  So, here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to meet again, somewhere near the monastery, where I live, and I’ll have someone in tow, someone young, just as you like.  And you’ll bring me into your ‘coven.’”

“I do not take orders from an upstart cretin little girl,” the vampire hissed derisively.

“Alright.  Then you decide where and when we’ll meet.”

He seethed, his chest rising and falling with rage and his teeth clenched as he finally admitted, “I will have to speak with my superiors.  Give me two days.  Meet me directly East of your monastery the night after next.  You needn’t bring your companion yet.  You’ll have your reply.  And if the answer is ‘no,’ I’ll be dragging you to my coven in this net while you beg for mercy.”  He picked up the net with the four weights on each corner that he had tried to capture her with.  “And if you don’t show up, I won’t give you a second chance,” he added, packing up the net in a bag.

He then walked to the tree near where Madalina was, to pick up the other bolas, watching her the whole time, making sure she didn’t move, and then quickly disappearing into the night.

<-- Go to Part 11         Go to Part 13 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 11

Outside the monastery was a road, which inclined downward and curved in the direction of Vallaya.  Madalina didn’t want to go to Vallaya, she wanted to head into the woods, the dark and dangerous woods, that only the vampires and the vampire hunters would ever dare to enter at night.  This would in fact be the eleventh time in the past few weeks that she had snuck out into the woods, and she was eager that tonight would be the night she’d find what she was looking for.

Madalina was a short, plain, dark-haired girl with fiery eyes and olive skin.  She moved quickly, she acted and thought quickly and she was always apt to seize opportunities with the swiftness and directedness of a frog snatching a fly from the air.

What she had recently seized upon was the idea that becoming a vampire would serve as an escape from the monastery that she had been unwillingly interred within.  For this reason she had begun to, for the past several weeks, as often as possible, sneak out of the monastery complex at night, just as she was doing this night.  She would then immerse herself in the vampire-haunted woods for a time, in the hope of running into a vampire and begging him to infect her.

Unfortunately, the woods sprawled in many directions and she did not know where the vampires could be found.  They did not have, to her knowledge, some sort of gathering place where she could find them.  They apparently lived in a cave somewhere, and they had to occasionally emerge from this cave, presumably for the purposes of feeding.  Her plan was thus to chance upon one of them when they were looking for food.

Her hope was, undoubtedly, that they wouldn’t decide to feed on her, and would give her an opportunity to speak and ask them to make her one of them.  Though she had never met a vampire and didn’t know they were like, she presumed that this level of decency would be common to all persons, vampire or otherwise.  What she discovered was something different.

After briskly walking further and further away from her monastery for what seemed like an hour, Madalina decided to give up for the night and head back.  She couldn’t stay out too long lest someone in the monastery might notice her absence.

As she turned around, though, she saw, in a flash, a blur of movement moving towards her.  She reacted instantly, ducking and moving away from it laterally.  A heavy object struck her arm and bruised it, but she continued to sprint away from whatever it was that threatened her in a panic.

She permitted herself a quick glance behind her and saw a large net settling onto the ground where she had just been standing.  The object that had struck her was a round weight, one of four on the corners of the net that were used to drop it from above.

Then she saw, falling like a raindrop from above, a person, a vampire no doubt, landing gently on the ground next to the net.  She slowed down somewhat and turned her head more to get a better look at it: it was undoubtedly a male vampire, in a black coat and pale skin.

The vampire then raised one hand and began to swing some sort of rope around in the air above his head.  Seeing this Madalina increased her speed.  When the vampire threw this object in her direction, she quickly darted to the side and put a tree between herself and the vampire.  The object, a bolas, abortively struck the tree behind her.  She then turned, taking cover behind another tree and stopped.  The bolas, consisting of three weighted balls connected by a rope, she had never seen, but presumed it was meant to knock her down or trip her.

The vampire raised a second bolas in his hand and began swinging it before Madalina finally screamed out, “Stop this!  I have come to talk with you.”

The vampire stopped swinging the bolas and dropped his arm and looked in her direction, where he could just see her face peaking out from behind a tree. “But I have not come to talk with you,” he said in a coarse, grating voice that carried through the night air.

“At least listen to me,” she shouted forcefully.

He didn’t move or say anything, so she presumed that she had his ear for at least a minute or so.

<-- Go to Part 10         Go to Part 12 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 10

Madalina’s slept in a bare, four-walled stone room she shared with three other young novices like herself.  While they slept, she listened, listening to make sure that her three roommates were asleep, and listening for any of the sisters.  The last thing she wanted was to run into one of the nuns and have her evening adventures brought to an end.  Not hearing anyone, Madalina quietly sat up from her bed, put on her shoes, and wrapped herself in a riding cloak.

She stepped down from her bed onto the stone ground very quietly and walked over to the door.  The door was locked, but Madalina had figured out how to push open the lock with a small twig that she fitted between the door and the wall.  There was a slight clicking sound of metal hitting metal, but she kept it as quiet as she could and checked on the other girls to make sure they were still asleep.  Then she slowly stepped through the creaking door out into the halls.

The hallway, led out into the courtyard, which was surrounded on three sides by the three main buildings: the novitiate, where she came from, the nun’s residence and the church.  On the other side was the wall, where there was the gateway leading out of the monastery.  Madalina spied upwards to check the wall-walk atop the wall where two armed sentries perambulated throughout the night. When they both walked out of sight Madalina quickly ran in the direction of the gate.

Getting out through the main gates was the most difficult part of the evening, since there were quite considerable fortifications for a monastery.  The fortifications were necessitated not by the armies, which, though a very real threat, had not been seen in these valleys in many generations, but by the vampires, which clambered regularly to enter the confines of the monastery whenever thirsty.

The front of the monastery was secured by a thick wall, with the exit being a single large gateway.  The gateway was secured by two layers, first a heavy iron portcullis, which had been added to the gateway at a later date, and a large wood double-door.  The portcullis could only be raised and lowered with significant difficulty and noise, but, fortunately, Madalina had found a small hole, which she could squeeze through to reach the gap between portcullis and outer door.

The outer double-door was braced by two large beams, which Madalina pushed aside.  The two large beams retracted into recesses on either side of the door, and she started to pull open the door, when she heard a sound.  Madalina froze and looked back towards the courtyard.  A dark figure crossed the courtyard, clearly identifiable in the moonlight as Sister Oana.  Sister Oana would sometimes wake for an extra evening prayer, and pass through the halls of the novitiate to check on the girls.  Madalina froze in the hope that Sister Oana wouldn’t look in her direction.

Fortunately, Sister Oana continued right on into the hall of the novitiate, and Madalina recommenced her escape.  She slowly pulled the large door open, which creaked with age and weight, until she could just pull herself through.  The door opened inward, and with the portcullis closed, could only be partially opened, but it was enough for Madalina to squeeze through.

She closed the doors, so that no possible invader would realize they were unlocked and then waited.  She was listening to the sound of the sentries’ footsteps.  When they grew distant after another circuit, she ran in the direction of the forest.

<-- Go to Part 9         Go to Part 11-->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 9

After Andrei closed up shop for good that day, he retired to his workroom where he had to commence the long work of processing the vampire that Vasile had brought him early that morning.

After dressing again in his cloak, gloves, mask and hat he entered the workroom and began the butchering.  He smothered the fire and then fished out the body with two hooks, dragging it out and dropping it onto a large worktable. The wooden worktable was a large, rectangular surface, pocked with knife marks and stained dark with blood.  Around the edges were grooves that captured the flow of any liquids and channeled them to a reservoir at one end of table.

Andrei put on his red-stained apron, pulled out his great knives and began to dig the knives into the vampire’s flesh, pulling apart the separate parts, pulling out the panoply of organs, peeling off the skin, pulling out the bones and cartilage, and on and on.

Each of these parts would have to be separately treated, some ground, some dried, some dissolved, and so on.  From these parts came the various medicines he carried: for the kidney medicine, he would take the vampire’s kidney and ground it, wrap it in a sheath of skin and dry it; for the vampire’s bone, he would dry the vampire’s bones and grind them into powder; for the skin, he would chop it up and dissolve it in alcohol; and so on.  Over time he had refined a number of techniques for making the vampire’s parts both preservable and consumable so that he could store them on his shelves until his ready customers came and so they could ingest the beneficial materials within these vampire parts and improve their health.

While Andrei worked, Vasile entered – rested and ready to begin the evening’s hunt.  Andrei had Vasile’s cloak, gloves and hat, sanitized and cleaned, and ready to be worn.

Vasile sat down on a chair and pulled his boots onto his feet, strapping a backup knife to the outside of one boot, placing another knife on his belt, loading his two crossbows and slinging them around his back, adding yet more crossbow bolts to a pouch in his belt, filling his quiver with what arrows he could carry and stringing his bow

As he armed himself and dressed for the chilly evening, Vasile said, “You know I am the only vampire hunter and I’m getting old.”

“I know too well.  What I wouldn’t give to have more hunters who could bring me more vampires.  But they just don’t survive,” Andrei added.

“I say it because you mentioned earlier that I should get an apprentice,” Vasile said, with his deep and quiet voice.

“I would never think a solitary lion like you would take an apprentice,” Andrei said.

“I think I should.  I want you to spread the word that I’m interested in an apprentice,” Vasile said, “Preferable someone who can shoot an arrow and that won’t get killed.”

“I can do that,” Andrei said nodding, “Are you sure?’

“Yes,” Vasile said, as he lifted his bag on his shoulders with his quiver and bow.  He then waved goodbye and stepped out into the night.

<-- Go to Part 8         Go to Part 10 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 8

After the vampires had left, Lucian opened up the curtains, flooding the room with light.  He turned to look at Andrei and said with a small laugh, “You ought to be careful about Asha.  She normally wouldn’t hesitate to kill you.  Any different circumstances and you’d be dead.  I was afraid for your life for a second there.  I wasn’t sure if she could restrain herself.”

“If you two agree on this truce, though, she won’t be able to,” Andrei replied.

“She might be willing to risk it for your sake,” Lucian rejoined.

There was a knock on the door, and it was Beniamin, who Andrei admitted into the room.

“What do you think of this truce?” Lucian then asked.

“I don’t like it,” Andrei admitted, sitting back in his chair and looking up at Lucian.

“Of course you don’t,” Beniamin merrily chuckled, “You might as well ask Cornel if he wants to ban metal, or ask the bees if they want to forego their nectar.”

“I admit it might be good for the village.  If the vampires don’t break the truce, that is.  But, I don’t trust them to do that,” Andrei said, settling back into his chair and rubbing his beard with one hand.  He then added, “And Vasile told me this morning that he thinks the vampires are in decline.  My intuition tells me he’s right.  It seems to me that with a concerted effort we could wipe them out.  I think that’s the only way I can trust they’ll keep their agreement, if they’re all gone.”

“You don’t trust them because we’ve always been at war.  They’ve never had a chance to prove their trustworthiness.  If we give them a chance, I think they will show their true worth, and they will show that they are human.  They are as much human as we are.  And they can cooperate, especially if it for something that will benefit us and them alike,” Lucian pontificated, in his usual politician’s voice.

“They depend on us for food,” Andrei disagreed, “They are not going to give us up.”

“They can live on other meat and other blood.  They can eat cattle and sheep like us,” Lucian said

“We’ll have vampire shepherds then?” Beniamin laughed, “Leading their sheep to pasture?  That’ll be a sight to see.”

Andrei told Lucian and Beniamin that he had to get back to his shop.  He left the town hall and approached the door to his store to unlock it.  A customer was already waiting in front, an oldish woman with poor posture.

“My apologies,” he said deferentially to her as he quickly opened the door and let her in. “I just had to discuss some very serious political matters with Magistrate Lucian.  I hope you weren’t waiting long.  What can I do for you?”

<-- Go to Part 7         Go to Part 9 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 7

Asha then began to lay out the conditions of the truce that she wished to initiate between the vampires and villagers: “We will cease all of our attacks and kidnapping, hereon and in perpetuity, and in exchange you will cease to kill us.”  Then she looked directly at Andrei and added, “And cease to feed on us.”

“I think that’s something all of the other villages can agree on.  Most of our attacks are motivated by self-defense.  If you ended any and all attacks on us, I don’t see any reason why we should continue hostilities,” Magistrate Lucian said, speaking judiciously and carefully.

“Except for your ‘vampire wares,’” Asha added, “Which ought to be destroyed.  And the whole shop where they’re sold ought to be burnt to the ground.”

“Keep trying,” Andrei said, “You haven’t failed enough times?  You’ve tried to destroy it before.  Maybe this time you’ll succeed.”

“Did I say you could speak, maggot?” Asha screeched, standing from her chair and approaching Andrei, “I wouldn’t even deign to drink your blood if you were bleeding, it’s probably as black as ash and tastes of venom!”

“Please!” Lucian interjected himself between them, and urged Asha to sit back down.  She recoiled when Lucian approached her. “Andrei you were told to be quiet during these proceedings.  I don’t want to hear any more from you,” Lucian said, then turning back to Asha, “I’m sorry.  Let’s continue.”  Lucian then asked, returning to his seat, “Are all of the vampires in your group behind you.”

“The coven obeys me,” Asha said, “They disobey at their peril.”

“But what if one of them were to disobey?  Then what?” Lucian asked.

“I would punish him severely,” Asha said with relish.

“I don’t know if that’s enough for us,” Lucian said cautiously, “We’d have more confidence if the offender were handed over to us, so we can be sure that punishment is being meted out?  Is that acceptable?”  Lucian waited for a response then he ventured cautiously, “Or what if the offender were handed over to” nodding in Andrei’s direction, “to him.”  Lucian waited for Asha’s reaction, though her face was quite inscrutable, “This would only be for those who killed or drank the blood of one of our villagers, of course.”

“Clever idea,” Asha said, “You placate the people who depend on this maggot’s products to keep their frail bodies from withering.”  Asha then stopped, as if thinking for a moment, asking, “Would you extend the same courtesy to us?  Would you give us all your condemned criminals to do with as we please?”

“That’s possible.  I can discuss it,” Lucian nodded, “Any other provisions you want to suggest?”

“We just want a truce.  All other provisions are inessential.  I suggest you gather the other surrounding villages quickly and see if they’ll buy into it before we waste any more time,” Asha said.

“I think they will,” Lucian said, smiling, “But I’ll get right on it.  I think this will be something that will be mutually beneficial and very long-lasting”

Lucian stood up and extended a hand to shake with Asha.  She looked at it and didn’t move, saying, “I don’t think we should touch.  I don’t want to infect you.”

“Right,” Lucian said, withdrawing his hand in embarrassment, “Beniamin will let you out.”

Beniamin who had been hastily taking notes on a sheet of paper the whole time, his nose close to the paper to try and see what he was writing in the dark, now dropped his pen and sprang to his feet, leading the vampires, whose heads were now covered, out of the room.

<-- Go to Part 6         Go to Part 8 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 6

Andrei always disliked closing his shop during business hours and it was with some discomfort that he locked the front door, pushing it shut while the sign “Apothecary and Vampire Wares” swung back and forth. He told the blacksmith next door, Cornel, who was pounding away at his metals, that he would be back in some fifteen or so minutes, if anyone came by.  Then he walked over to the town hall.

Andrei entered the great double doors at the front of town hall.  In front of him opened the meeting hall, which was now empty.  It was a large room with rows of wood benches and an elevated stage in front.  There were two private rooms off to the side that could be entered from here and Andrei knocked on the first of these doors.  The door opened and the round, red-cheeked face of Beniamin, Andrei’s secretary peaked through.  He wore a brown, ostentatiously curly wig and always had a pleasant smile.  “Yes?” he asked inquisitively.

“If I could kindly insist, to Magistrate Lucian, that I be permitted to enter, I would be much obliged.  I think I have a right to listen in on whatever negotiations you’re engaged in with these vampires, as a citizen of this village and an interested party.”

Beniamin opened the door a bit more and turned to reveal Lucian seated in the dark, looking at Andrei.  Lucian spoke up in his well-measured tone: “This is only a preliminary meeting, Andrei.  We will be sure and apprise you of the content of this meeting once we have finished.  Be assured that you will be the first person I will speak to.”

“We have nothing to hide,” Asha then shouted out in her snake-like voice, “Bring in whomever you wish.  They can listen so long as they don’t speak.”

Beniamin shrugged his shoulder cheerfully and said to Andrei, almost apologetically, “Could you please close the main doors there before you come in,” pointing to the double doors leading into town hall, “We have to be careful of the light.”

After closing the doors, Andrei stepped into the office.  “Are you sure it’s safe in here?  We’re not going to get infected?” Andrei asked.  Both Lucian and Asha nodded, but Andrei, still shrank into a corner as far as possible away from the vampires.

The office that Lucian occupied had an elegant wood desk upon which Lucian would do his writing and behind him an entire bookshelf of finely bound books.  In one corner a globe served as decoration, along with some oil paintings framed on the walls. But the whole room was immediately plunged into near blackness as soon as Beniamin closed the doors.

A single candle sat on Lucian’s desk and the faintest traces of light leaked underneath the door.  There was a window, but the curtains were closed, such that only an outline of light also leaked in around the edges.

In the darkness the five vampires were allowed to reveal their faces.  They pulled back their hoods, revealing their heads, which were entirely wrapped in a partly see-through piece of black cloth.  After removing the cloth, five stunning, pale faces were revealed, two female and three male.  All of the faces were young-looking, flawless, sharp and colorless.  They weren’t beautiful in the way that Andrei normally thought, since they lacked the round, pink skin that Andrei would’ve preferred in a beautiful bride.  But they were, all five of them, gorgeous—like a whiter, more angular version of a youthful belle in full bloom.

But when Andrei saw them expose their faces he recoiled instinctively and rose to leave the room.  Asha understood what Andrei was afraid of, and said vehemently, “There is no risk of infection.  If you want to listen, you will sit down.”  Andrei felt naked without the mask he normally wore to protect him and uncomfortably swallowed as he thought he was picking up the faint whiff of Asha’s aroma.

Asha then turned to Lucian and continued, “We have come to discuss a truce between the vampires of our coven and the surrounding villages,” rehashing what had been said for Andrei’s sake.

<-- Go to Part 5         Go to Part 7 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 5

As the sun fully rose, the farmers went out to the fields and tended their crops and livestock, Andrei opened his store for business, Vasile slept, and out of the woods five black-cloaked figures entered the village.

The five figures wore heavy black hooded cloaks that dragged along the ground.  Their hands underneath were covered in leather gloves, and their heads were completely covered by black hoods that only afforded a small opening in the front.  The moved in a V, like a flock of geese, with one figure in front and the two pairs flanking her and behind her on either side.

The five figures stopped on the main street near the town hall, and as the villagers saw them they gathered around, keeping their distance, in fear.  Cornel, the blacksmith, stopped his unending hammering and walked out onto the main street wearing his leather apron and carrying a hammer in hand.  Josif, the farmer, middle-aged and grey stood at the front with his staff in hand.

The leader of the cloaked figures, with a feminine voice announced to the villagers, “We have come to see Magistrate Lucian.  Could you please take us to him,” but she did so in such a hissing voice that the femininity of the voice was eclipsed by this harsh tone.

There was nervous muttering in the crowd, but someone did go to fetch Lucian, who was seated in his office in the town hall.  The crowd then waited in tense silence, looking at the hooded figures with suspicion and fear.  Finally, Josif took the initiative, hurling himself at the lead figure with a staff raised.  The farmer shouted as he tried to crack his staff upon the hooded figure's head.  The figure stood in mute silence as he ran towards her, waiting until the last moment to move.  She finally raised her hand and parried the staff.  Josif stumbled as his staff ultimately struck the ground and the dark figure pushed him forcefully such that he landed a few feet away and rolled onto the dirt.

“We came here to talk!” the female figure boomed and the villagers recoiled further.  Josif pulled himself up and dusted himself off, smarting more from the embarrassment than from any wound.

Lucian then stepped outside, a youngish-looking and dashing gentleman of high birth.  Though he was well into his forties, he had the looks and vigor of a man half his age.  He had a trim gray wig, with ponytail hanging behind, was clean-shaven and wore a fine jacket and breeches.

Lucian looked at the five figures standing motionlessly in front of the small crowd that had gathered and addressed the lead figure: “It’s Asha, isn’t it?”  She nodded and he said, “Let’s get you inside then.  Right this way.”  As the five figures approached he shouted at the crowd, “Make way.  They are here at my invitation.”

Andrei stepped out of his shop to see the five cloaked figures walking towards the crowd, which moved away on either side as they approached.  Andrei was a wiry figure, dressed in a modest robe that covered over the shirt and loose breaches he wore underneath.  His gray hair was cropped close against his skull and he wore a trim mustache and beard on his face.  He had the look of modest, even stingy affluence, but also of relaxed comfort and ease.

Andrei watched the five vampires walking into the town hall with Lucian leading the way.  He pondered the situation for a moment and then decided to close up shop and see if could horn in on whatever meeting Lucian was engaged in with those vampires.

<-- Go to Part 4         Go to Part 6 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 4

After a long tense wait during which no sign of breath or movement appeared, Vasile finally knew that the vampire was dead and could relax.  He dropped the bow, put the arrow back in his quiver and opened his bag.  He first pulled out his bird mask, which would cover his whole face.  The mask had two glass eyes and a long nose wherein a vinegar sponge was placed, filling his nose with its pungent odor.  The mask was meant to protect him from infection, but was something he wouldn’t wear while hunting, since it impeded his sight

He then pulled out two hooks and a rope.  Approaching the vampire, he placed each of the two large, metal hooks under the shoulders of the vampire, with a rope strung between them.  He then loaded the two spent crossbows, in case of attack, and dangled them from his shoulders, and putting the bag on his back.  Finally, grabbing the rope that connected the hooks he began to drag the weighty vampire corpse over the ground behind him.  Thus, began the long march through the night to Vallaya, pulling the massive weight, which felt like pulling a millstone through a bog.

When Vasile eventually arrived at the back of Andrei’s shop, the first signs of dusk were creeping over the horizon.  Andrei woke from a sleep when he heard the sound of Vasile pounding on his door.  Quickly throwing on a robe, Andrei leaped from his bed and dressed himself in his cloak, gloves, mask and hat.   Once ready, he opened the back door of his shop to Vasile.

The back of Andrei’s shop was a large complex, including several rooms that Andrei used as his living quarters, and one large room that served as his workroom.  When Vasile entered the back of Andrei’s shop, he stepped into this large workroom, occupied by a few large cauldrons, fires and bellows, huge working tables and shelves upon shelves of containers and jars.

As Vasile entered, Andrei placed a ramp, leading up and into the largest of the cauldrons, which was already filled with a slightly alcoholic solution.  Vasile dragged the vampire up the ramp and dropped him into the cauldron.  Andrei then began to light a fire under the cauldron.  The corpse would be slowly heated at a low temperature for many hours until the vampire infection was thoroughly killed.  Vasile also took off his cloak, his hat, his mask and his gloves and dumped them into a smaller pot, which Andrei would subsequently boil to clean off any possible infection.

After all this Vasile finally sat down to take a rest on a bench, rubbing his legs and moving around his arms and shoulders to try and drive away the soreness.

“It’s been quite a few days since you’ve had a catch,” Andrei commented as he was building and tending the fire beneath the cauldron.

“Yeah,” Vasile assented soberly, “I’m no longer able to take down the older vampires like I used to.  I had one in my sights just two nights ago, but I could only get one arrow in him.  They’re too swift and I’m just not as fast as I used to be.”

“Perhaps you need an apprentice,” Andrei suggested.

“Perhaps,” Vasile agreed in a deep, quiet voice, “Also, I don’t see as many vampires as I used to.”

“You think they’ve learned to avoid you?” Andrei asked, “Or maybe they’re moving elsewhere.  You’ve never found the location of this coven.”

“No,” Vasile said, massaging his legs and rotating his shoulders, “I’m sure they dwell underground.  And caves aren’t everywhere nor are they easy to make.  They can’t just pick up and move.  Besides, all of the nearby towns have reported declines in attacks.  It must be more than a month since the last attack.  Not even livestock are being attacked.  No, I think their numbers are in decline.”

“Perhaps they’re just hiding underground,” Andrei suggested, “Spending more time in their caves.”

“They need to come out to eat,” Vasile shook his head, “There’s no food to be found underground.”

“Well, I hope you’re right.  It’s good for the villagers,” Andrei commented, “Though not so good for us.”

<-- Go to Part 3         Go to Part 5 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 3

The tiny crossbow bolt struck flesh and the injured vampire stumbled when the bolt pierced through the upper thigh, just where Vasile had aimed.  The next shot had to follow quickly in succession and hit just as true if he were to fell his prey.  Vasile picking up the second crossbow, again took quick but careful aim and shot.  Another hit, as aimed, in the leg and the vampire again stumbled, tumbling forward onto the leaf-covered turf.  While the vampire pulled himself to his feet, Vasile grabbed the bow from over his shoulder, drawing his first arrow, putting it in place and aiming.  Vasile wasn’t as skilled with the longbow, so he aimed for a body shot.  This was the easiest of the first three shots, the vampire was only just raising himself from the ground, and his target area was larger, but he still had to take careful aim and fire his shot before the vampire had a chance to return to a full run.  His arrow slid through the air and pierced through the vampire’s side, pushing through the torso and poking out through the back.  With this last shot, the vampire toppled onto the ground and didn’t attempt to rise again.

Vasile waited a few moments to see if it would try to get up and then he dropped from the tree.  He slowly approached the vampire with bow and arrow drawn.  This was the most dangerous point, since the vampire was most likely only injured, and still capable of surviving if it could either escape or, more preferably, kill its predator.  The vampire might still have the capacity to lunge at Vasile and attack, especially if it were one of the older, stronger vampires who might require as many as a dozen arrows to kill.  Thus Vasile approached him cautiously.

The creature that he saw by the faint starlight was a pale dark-cloaked young male.  He was fit and slim, clearly a younger vampire, flawless and healthy-looking.  The vampire’s trembling, blood-stained hand was reaching out to pull one of the bolts from his thigh while he breathed in quick and shallow breaths.

Standing at a safe distance, both to reduce the risk of the vampire suddenly attacking him and to reduce the risk of infection, Vasile took careful aim, pointing his spearpoint at the vampire’s pale, taut neck.  The Vampire heard Vasile’s almost soundless footsteps as he carefully stepped between the dry leaves, and he turned in terrified anger to look at the old man with arrow drawn and aimed.  He began to push himself off the ground for one last desperate lunge, when Vasile launched his arrow through the neck, piercing the soft skin and poking through the back of the neck.  The vampire collapsed and his breath quickly slowed and finally stopped, while Vasile still waited at a close distance with another arrow already drawn.

<-- Go to Part 2         Go to Part 4 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 2

For raw materials, Andrei depended upon an aged hunter named Vasile.  Vasile worked at night, and on this night, like nearly every night, he spent most of his time waiting.  He waited now on a branch many body-lengths off the ground on a tree near the very heart of the forest, in stretches of wood that were as far as one could get from any of the surrounding villages.  The various villages in this region carved out little pockets of farmland within the otherwise unremitting forests.  Vasile waited in one of the deepest parts of the forest, more than a league from Vallaya.

Not just any prey would do for him that night.  The only desirable prey, the prey with by far the highest bounty and the one that concerned him, was the vampire prey.

Vasile had a thick, grey beard, that covered a face of tanned, rugged skin.  He pinched wrinkles all around his eyes as he squinted into the dark trying to grasp any glimpse he could of movement.  In his hands a crossbow stood ready, with another cocked and hanging at his side.  A bow and a quiver of arrows were on his shoulder as a secondary weapon to follow the crossbows.

After a long wait of sitting in the frigid night cold, while his warm breath breathed wet vapor into the cold air, he finally saw movement in the distance.  He was immediately spurred into an excited readiness, since it had been a few days since he’d seen any vampires.  He would only have a few moments to identify, aim and fire, especially if it were a vampire, since they were skittish creatures that moved quickly and could be very dangerous when injured.

Squinting into the starlight-lit forest, he was able to identify the movement of two legs.  Definitely not animal.  They moved with such strength and agility, almost floating over the soft forest floor as they ran.  Definitely not human.  No human moved with such grace and speed.

Immediately, he took quick, but careful aim, and shot.

<-- Go to Part 1         Go to Part 3 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 1

The most prominent and successful business in the village of Vallaya belonged to the apothecary, Andrei.  The stone-walled store which he owned was prominently situated on the main street of Vallaya, across from the church, and next to the town hall and a few other storefronts.  Behind the church, acres of forest had been cleared to create rolling planes of pasture that stretched into the distance.  As for the rest of the forest that hadn’t been cleared, it spread around the city in all other directions, jutting up against the back of Andrei’s apothecary shop along with the other shops next to him.  The only other breaks from the forest were a number of avenues branching off of the main street, leading out to the farms and to the various other houses, great and small of the citizens of Vallaya, and the main roads, which led to neighboring towns.

The main area of Andrei’s apothecary shop was a large windowless room split by a counter spread across the middle of the shop, separating Andrei and his wares from the customers.  On the side of the customers, was a stone floor with a long rug covering it and a few comfortable seats where customers could wait while they were being served.  On Andrei’s sides were his wares: organized in shelves upon shelves of small containers, such as ceramic bowls, wooden boxes and cloth bags.  On the left side were shelves of traditional medicines, ointments and oils that he had shipped in mostly from distant sellers and that served the demands of the local population.  But the real success of his business, was on the right side, on a series of shelves that were labeled atop with a carved wooden sign, which read “Vampire Wares.”  As opposed to the other products, which were widely available, Andrei’s vampire wares were unique to him and to Vallaya.  He had customers coming from all parts of the Romanian principalities, even into foreign kingdoms, such as the Habsburg and Ottoman empires, including great dignitaries and nobles he shipped to at substantial markup.  Andrei’s “Apothecary and Vampire Wares” shop was renowned and by people living at distances of many weeks journey.

The bowls, bags and boxes of vampire wares were filled with powders, gels and dried foodstuffs, each of which served a specific purpose.  For example, one set of boxes, filled with a dry white powder, were purported to promote strong bones and were quite popular with the aged and deformed who could appreciably feel the new strength and improved posture that the powder conferred.  Their only wish: that they could have more.

On this point, Andrei was entirely in agreement, and would create more if he could, but for the difficulty of acquiring the raw materials.

                 Go to Part 2 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Vampire Wares pt 0

I'm going to attempt write a novel in small segments. As I write each short segment they will appear here, and I will attempt to maintain a steady and consistent supply of tidbits, culminating in a completed novel some 12 months or so from now. Let's see how it goes. I'll put all of the segments under the label "Vampire-Wares," so they should be available all together at this link.

Go to Part 1
You can see what's been written so far collected here.