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.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 72

The sun was just above the horizon as Vasile walked across the expanse of Josif’s fields in the direction of Anton, who he saw in the distance, submerged shoulder-deep in the sea of wheat.  Anton was bent down with crescent blade in hand, reaping the grain with long, flowing swings that gathered the stalks into his hands.

As Vasile got closer, they greeted each other, and Vasile asked, “Where’s your dad?”

“He’s been having to work Mihai’s crops,” Anton responded, with some bitterness, “It’s that time of year, to fulfill our serf’s duty.”

“Is he happy to have you back?”

“I don’t think that’s the word I’d use.  I don’t think anything makes him happy.  Though, I feel like he’s pleased that he turned out to be right about me trying to be a vampire hunter, and he’s resisting the urge to gloat.  To him, things are better off staying the same as they’ve always been, I suppose.”

Vasile grabbed the scythe out of Anton’s hands, and took over his job while Anton rested.

“I’ve decided to stop taking the vampire wares,” Vasile said.  He squinted under the light of the sun.  Ever since he’d started taking the vampire medicine, so many years ago, the sun had gained an overbearing quality, and now was, gradually, beginning to lose that overbearingness.  “I guess it’s time to start growing old,” Vasile continued, “I’ve been trying to reschedule my sleep so that I’m actually awake through the daylight.  It’s impossible for you to understand how long I’ve been a vampire hunter and how many nights I’ve been out in the forest waiting alone in the trees for a vampire to cross my line of sight.  Almost every day, for decades, alone at night: in summer when nights are warm and in winter when over half the day is left to the vampires.  I’ve seen a great many sunsets and sunrises, but not so much of the day in between.”

“How did you ever become a vampire hunter?” Anton asked.

Vasile shook his head when Anton asked that. “I can barely remember life before becoming a vampire hunter,” Vasile said, taking a deep breath and throwing some extra long swipes at the wheat to give himself some time to gather his thoughts.

“I was young when it happened.  You see, I grew up with my mother, living in the woods.  My father wasn’t there.  He was some highwayman who’d gone away or been hanged or something.  She wasn’t clear on the details.  My mom would poach game and gather fruit and roots for us at day.  At night, we lived in a tiny room made out of the hollow of a tree.  We had to keep it well camouflaged, since the vampires were out at night.  They weren’t then like they are now.  They would be out every night, prowling in packs.  And they have powerful noses, so we’d have to spread over the entrance of our little hollow whatever pungent flowers and plants we could find to mask our smell.

“But eventually they found us, probably because our cloak of scent wasn’t very good that night.  They only got her.  When she heard them approaching, she hid me under a blanket in the corner.  I heard the sound of her being dragged away, and was just waiting for them to find me.  Waiting all night for them to notice I was there in the corner under the blanket.  They didn’t.  But I was all alone from then on, without my mother, or anyone.

“I didn’t know how to do anything but hunt.  So I became a vampire hunter.  It wasn’t vengeance that drove me.  I didn’t know who the vampires that actually took her were, and I wasn’t going to find out.  I just wanted to earn money.  At the time there were a bunch of vampire hunters, all young.  Some of them deserters from one of the armies, some of them bandits and highwaymen, some farmers’ kids.  They were a reckless and cavalier bunch: they didn’t care if they lived or died.  And they took in huge hauls of dead vampires.  I was consistently the least successful, because I was the most cautious, took the fewest risks.  But that kept me alive.  As they all got killed off, one by one, I survived.   We’d take our kills to Andrei, or to Dragomir.  He was an apothecary that also made vampire wares, but the vampires eventually succeeded in breaking into his home, destroying the place and dragging him off for food.  Now, I guess it’s finally completely over.  No more vampire hunting.  No more dragging my kills to Andrei’s.  No more waiting up all night in the trees.  Just living a normal life again.”

<-- Go to Part 71         Go to Part 73 -->

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

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