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.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 23

The cottage that they shared was a single room, with the kitchen and dining table at the one end and the two beds at the other end.  Anton’s parents, Josif and Viorica shared one bed and Anton shared the other bed with Constanta.

Anton stayed awake and waited, lying in his bed and looking up at the ceiling while the rest of his family slowly faded into sleep.  He wasn’t able to sleep, since he had to leave to meet Andrei, but, as nervous as he was, he wouldn’t have been able to sleep anyways.  He’d always been taught to stay indoors at night, and now he was not only going out but going deep into the forest, towards where the vampires lived.

As he heard the deep, nasally breaths of his family, he presumed they were all asleep and got up to go.  He put on a pair of loose, rugged trousers, a shirt and a pair of leather boots.

As he stood up, ready to leave, a hand reached out and grabbed him on the arm.  Constanta lay in bed and looked up at him with her big eyes and silently mouthed the words, “Don’t go!”

Constanta was several years younger than him, and even for her size she was skinny and pale.  She was someone who needed protecting, and she’d always been able to rely on Anton.

He reached down to kiss his sister on the forehead and whispered in her ears, “I’ll be back.  No vampires will get to me, and I won’t let them get to you either.”

He then stood up and walked out the door.  The night air was cold and it seeped through the fabric of his shirt such that he could feel it on his skin.  He then began his walk into town towards Andrei’s shop.

Once Anton arrived and was led in by Andrei, he found Ileana and Vasile sitting in the workroom waiting for him.  Ileana, dressed in her nightgown, looked apprehensive as she watched Anton approaching.  In contrast, Vasile, who waited, fully dressed, fully armed and covered in his cloak, looked calm and dispassionate.

“We’ve drawn a bath for you,” Andrei said, leading Anton into a separate room.  A large porcelain basin filled with water sat in the center of a private room.  Steam rose off the surface of the water and Anton touched it to feel the warmth.

“Put your clothes aside, and change into these after you’re done,” Andrei said, pointing to a set of black clothes hanging on the wall with boots below them, “And wash thoroughly.  Clean all your human stink away.  And then we’ve got some oil, which I want you to rub on your body, especially on parts of you where you sweat.  All clear?”

Anton nodded, and then once Andrei left, he removed his rough and dirty laborer’s clothing and stepped into the warm water.  He savored the wonderful warmth of the water, since a warm bath was a rare luxury for him, taking an opportunity to lay back and relax.  But he also knew that everyone was waiting for him, so he cut it short and tried to lather himself up as quickly as possible.  When he stepped out, he felt like a new person, like a snake slithering out of its skin.

He opened the vial of oil that Andrei had given him, which smelled strongly of tree sap and pine needles.  He doused himself with it and put on the new clean clothes, and stepped out for everyone to see him.

As he approached, his short, brown hair still wet and tussled, Andrei told him, “Good to see you nice and clean.  You smell so much better.  Most importantly, though, the vampires won’t smell you.”

He picked up a cloak and threw it to Anton, saying, “Wear this.”  Anton put it on and Vasile then handed him a crossbow saying, “We’ll see how well you can use this.”

Anton looked at the weapon with curiosity.  “I’ve never handled a crossbow,” he said, “But I can handle a longbow.  I’ve hunted many times with my father.  And I’ve been taught how to use an arquebus.”

Vasile raised an eyebrow in interest at hearing this.  “I don’t want to use an arquebus.  I don’t use any firearms,” Vasile said, “They’re too loud and not as accurate.  But if you know already how to handle a longbow, that’s good.  It’s a difficult weapon to master and quite essential.”

“I can’t just handle it.  I can place arrows on a prey with as much precision as I can touch you with my finger,” Anton boasted, poking at Vasile with his index finger.

“We’ll see about this,” Vasile said, handing him a belt with an attached knife and sheath, “You don’t want to have to use this at close range, but it can be thrown.  We’ll practice that, too.”

They opened the door to the night and the forest spread out before them.  Ileana hugged Anton anxiously, telling him, “I bet Andrei you’d bag a vampire in your first week.  Don’t make me a loser.”  Then she said to Vasile, “And you!  Bring him back alive, will you?”

Andrei cut in and said, “Wait a minute.  I almost forgot,” running to the table and grabbing a bowl for Anton.  Inside was an unpleasant brown mush that Anton recoiled from in disgust when it was pressed before him.

“Eat it,” Andrei said, “Vampires wares.  You’ll need it if you want to survive.”

Anton took the bowl in his hand.  The smell that rose from the mixture reeked.  It smelled like rotten liver and vinegar, and Anton curled his nose in disgust.  He tried a small taste of it, but it was so awful that he coughed.

“You’ll learn to cherish it,” Vasile said.

Anton made another attempt, pouring all of it into his mouth and trying to avoid smelling it as he uncomfortably gulped it down.  “Disgusting,” Anton wretched.

“Time to go,” Vasile said, as Anton handed the bowl back to Andrei.

They walked out the door, while Andrei and Ileana waved them goodbye.  In front of them the dark forest extended far into the shadows, and they strode forward and walked into the night.

<-- Go to Part 22         Go to Part 24 -->

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

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