Author: Rin0rourke PM
The villagers burned the trapped vampire, but as the body blackened and blistered and withered to ashes the demon spirit sought freedom, leaping from the pyre in the form of swift night animals. If even one creature escaped the fire the vampire spirit would survive to walk again among the living. YulmenRated: Fiction M - English - Supernatural/Romance - Kanda Yuu & Allen Walker - Words: 3,660 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 3 - Published: 12-21-12 - id: 8817517
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Bloodthirsty creatures have haunted the earth since the very beginning of time and old powers, many of them malignant, still throb with hidden life.
In the natural order of things life is a one way journey, the living progressed inexorably from cradle to grave and once the earth covered them they were gone and their bodies, abandoned, became onto rot and fodder for the growing things.
Yet sometimes the natural order did not progress as it should, sometimes the natural order went awry. That's when the Exorcists come.
What are these creatures who seek the blood of the living man? Vampyre, Vampire, Vampir, the name is the blanket for all the monsters who feed upon the lifeblood of humans. True vampyres were human corpses that had been invaded by blood hungry spirits, some corpses suited the spirit better than others such as they who have given themselves over to evil, but any deviation from the norm in a living person is a sign of susceptibility to vampirism, among them are the cursed and the unrestful dead, illegitimate children, seventh sons or daughters, those with birthmarks, and pregnant women who have been fed upon by vampyres during the last months of their pregnancy. Indeed it was assumed that anyone attacked by vampyres were vulnerable to invasion and would rise up as bloodsuckers themselves after death.
These beings were vestiges of chaos, remnants of a formless time older than human reckoning who used the mortal body merely as a vehicle for the spirit which itself had no shape and no means to satisfy its appetite. They killed because they had to; only with long draughts of fresh blood could vampyres continue to survive. Some seethed with hatred for the living and attacked them in a frenzy of destruction, some were quiet noninvasive predators who drank their fill and left the victim relatively unmolested, all were sons and daughters of darkness, freed only after the sun had set and blackness crept across the land. Night brought them forth and allowed them to flourish. Out of profound depths; from forest and sea, hillock and cave, rock and shadow crawled creatures of the nocturne, a cruel and ghastly host searching for victims.
This overwhelming need for warm fresh blood gave them a perpetual hunger and was the reason for the hideous appearance that vampyres presented: the sickly sweet smell of rot and mold, with claw-like fingers that caught and held, sharp teeth that plunged smoothly into arteries and veins, and full eager lips that closed and sucked in measured rhythm. Each night when they fed their ashen flesh flushed with the color that seeped from their mortal victims and bubbled at the edge of their mouths to stain the linen collar of their prey; in feasting they acquired the rosy glow of health that let them walk undetected amongst man.
As centuries passed people ceased talking of these fancies, of invaded human corpses and terrible nightstalking beings what gnawed human flesh and drank human blood. Yet even in the age of mighty palaces and soaring cathedrals, of new worlds and thriving villages, the dread of night remained undiminished. Far even into the 18th century, with tensions building between motherland and her colonies and the Regent and Vatican not on particularly congenial terms, a little incident a generation or so back involving gunpowder and Parliament only further hammering the iron nail into the skull of the issue, superstition and blood hungry corpses were unwelcome instigators. With inquisition difficult to enforce and the ever increasing harassment of the peacefully devout dead, the desecrated tombs and mutilated remains, the Church forged itself weapons fit to face the old world evils.
When the earth refused its duty, when the grave accepts not the corpse, when the ground spews out the buried and the now soulless putrefying flesh rose up as vampyres, the Exorcists, the assassin's dagger of the Catholic Church, the elite warriors of the reclusive Black Order, put it all to rights.
And so while day reigned and linen smocked farmers plowed and sowed and harvested, while aproned wives tended home and hearth, while smithies with scarred and pockmarked flesh worked their forges with sinuous arms that struck metal sending a rainbow flurry of sparks, while children ran and played in fields, all under the lengthened shadows of bristling castle towers whose hearth fires blazed and smoke rose through holes among the rafters to blow like flags in the late afternoon, the Black Order Exorcists did their duty.
When the cheerful order dissolved each evening they prepared their weapons, when the gayety of the day gave way to twilight they set out in investigation, as the church bell sounded curfew and the populace headed for shelter, the cows driven to their byres, the geese and hens herded to their pens, and all the little humans ran to their havens, barred doors, shuttered windows, the Exorcists threw open the doors to the night and challenged the blackness beyond.
Our tale concerns a young clergyman in the very edges of North England barely past the Scottish border, still very much in sight of the Cheviot Hills, and as most of countryside ahead was moorland he would be spotting them for quite a ways, if he were to head straight back to London that is. Instead he was, for reasons he could only call sentimental and suicidal, taking a few days detour into the hills and smattering of tiny forests.
The vast expanse of craggy hills, volcanic rock, limestone, shale, sandstone, millstone, the scars and caves, the dramatic waterfalls and fissures, all ripped across the stretching open moorland and he stood a moment at the edge of the trees as the sun started its decent from its peak to look back and consider. He really had no reason to do this, he could just as easily walk a day or two and be in Yorkshire, perhaps even visit the Holy Island, or any number of cathedrals where he could replace a few lost items and send a message to the Vatican of his successful mission. He could do any number of things in the stead of this one course, and yet no matter the logic he used to convince himself, every step away from this path had overcome him with the greatest of anxiety. Not one to ignore his instincts, he had taken a breath, adjusted his heavy pack, and with walking staff in hand entered the trees that filled the line between the hills, flourishing around the hidden brook somewhere within their concealment.
It would not be an uneventful journey towards his destination, and he expected to get halfway through the narrow forest before he made camp and with luck be at the village by early afternoon. Unfortunately he already suspected he had made at least one mistake this day that would hinder his journey, and it had something to do with the overwhelming burden he currently carried.
That morning as he broke camp he had come across a bundle of kindling obscured in the brush, no doubt left behind by careless wayfarers who had occupied the area previously. Gloating over his good fortune he had fastened the faggot to his pack and moved on.
He had begun to suspect trickery when, towards the end of day, the pack had grown heavier than mere weariness could contribute. When he finally heaved it off his shoulders at dusk the faggot shrugged out of its ties of its own volition and leapt off the pack. The bundle of small dry sticks sprouted flapping arms and legs, cackling maniacally and scampering out of his reach the gnarled little nightling chittered unintelligibly and grinned yellow crooked teeth at him.
Disgusted at being fooled he lifted one of the rocks from the firepit, about the size of a child's head, to throw at the thing only to see a set of wicked eyes blink open from the soot blackened side. Without warning every stone and wood in the firepit and several ideal pieces of wood for campfire in the surrounding area sprung up and, laughing, ran off into the underbrush. Allen kicked at one but only succeeded in kicking up dirt in its direction as the little thing ducked and rolled into the shadows.
Ordinarily he would have huffed a bit then shook his head at his own foolishness and set about making camp before true dark, but as the sun dropped below the horizon the earth shuddered and the forest seemed to bend inwards on itself. He barely managed to grab his pack and throw himself back towards the road as the trees and undergrowth rushed in a blur towards him and the campsite was swallowed back into nonexistence. Dusting himself off he snarled at the hooting from the trees and picking up a small pebble he chucked it at the boggle dangling like a chimp in the lower branches. A yip sounded that he had hit his mark and the other nightlings howled in raucous laughter at their abused companion.
The sun dipped further west and the trees threw long shadows across the ground. He checked his pack and picked up his rowan walking staff before continuing on, he had not wanted to be without the protection of circle when the night trolls crawled out of their subterranean world but the innocent prank had left him defenseless. Perhaps he could find another camp ahead, but more likely such things would be hidden from his view by other tricksters after dark. The best he could hope for would be a deer thicket or hollowed tree, provided it wasn't already the home of a nightdweller.
Fingering one of the many iron and beaded brooches that festooned his traveling cloak, blessed badges from the many shrines and chapels he had visited over the years as he pilgrimed in search of evil, he left the frolicking bogles to their harmless games. The air grew still and quiet as darkness continued to creep greedily over the land and their laughter faded. He kindled the embers in his cresset and put his hood up against the chill. The little iron pot yielded pitiable illumination and the canopy of trees blocked out what sliver of moon would be rising after true dark fell, he relied heavily on his ash wood staff on this treacherous rain washed footpath. Above breaks in the dark overlapping foliage he could spy the ebony blanket of sky crowded with stars, the familiar river of light that was the Walting Street banded its way through that sparkling tapestry and he easily judged his direction as, at the least, accurate.
He had spent too long in Scotland, he scolded himself morosely, a few months warding off oschaerts and trows on a wild hunt for the baobhan sith plaguing the Shetland islands and he suddenly couldn't defend himself against a simple boggle. He'd be lucky not to wrench an ankle with a neglectful misstep, the gravel footpath was barely as wide as his arm span and all but impassible after the past week's storms.
Indeed he'd be lucky if a clumsy stumbling injury was all he got before the night was through. In the shadows greedy eyes glittered. A damp chill curled clinging claws at his cloak and twice he had started at the inhuman screech of an owl or the snuffling of hedgehogs. The quiet of dusk gave way to night sounds and he found himself once again toying with the brooches. He longed for a sprig of St Johns Wart or a crust of bread, he thought enviously of the four leaf clover he had carefully sewed in secret into the hem of his old cloak, the one that had gotten shredded by the headless troll guarding the fortress of the blood feasting ladies on that lonesome Scottish isle. While many of the brooches had been salvageable some had been shattered, delicate shell beads crushed to powder, and he had not yet replaced them.
He reflected longingly on the hostel he had roomed at nights ago and how far it seemed from the secluded footpath through a densely forested countryside.
Scolding himself again he fidgeted with the dried remains of the herbs he had stuffed in his pocket, it was closing in on winter and the once plentiful tokens of day no longer sprouted like tiny suns dotting the countryside, waiting to be plucked and treasured. Still though the petals had long since crumbled to dust in the folds it calmed him.
In a strange way this little setback may be fortuitous, for he would soon be arriving at his destination with a few hours to spare before the rest of the populace rose to tend to the day. If he survived the night to do it. He didn't care for how all his belongings were stowed in his pack, out of his reach in the event of being set upon by some night shrouded villain.
What a mighty exorcist, his lips curled bitterly and he picked his way over a section of road cut to tiny detailed canyons and fissures by the rain, he knew where the anxiety stemmed but that didn't stop the clutching panic from latching onto any available threat. Using his staff as leverage he kicked off and swung over a large puddle, landing with a clumsy scrambling scatter of rocks. There really was no traction on this pathetically maintained path, if a trader came through from the village he was sure the cart would break a wheel. That the people who lived here didn't maintain it only solidified the rumors he'd heard of their isolationist attitude.
The area coming up was a decent site for self-sufficiency, although the valley yielded little fertile land for crops with the hills stretching up on at every side, the grass was good for grazing sheep and cattle, and the trees were plentiful for lumber and the brook birthed not farther into Scotland beyond the border, providing fresh untainted water, if rather sparse in the fishing. Here the wild herbs grew abundant in the cool moist shadows of the trees and the game congregated unmolested. Fowl in particular provided the majority of the meat for the populace of the small secluded village.
He wondered how much it had grown, not very if they could think of isolating themselves as they were, they were such a tiny place to begin with, a few well-tended homes and a tiny two story box of a church. It was also a very young village, what once were tenants of a wealthy family who had summered in the sprawling mansion built into the very base of the towering volcanic rock. It was a thing of great magnificence, large enough to house any number of people and in its prime it had indeed been home to many parties and reverent guests. Eventually it had been willed away from the main family to second sons and added to dowries of married daughters, until it eventually fell to the Walker Brothers.
Never had there been a more beneficing family as the Walkers, who had always seen to the needs of those tending their flock and tilling the fields and harvesting their crop, always calling on their tenants with gifts, they had rethatched the roofs of every home one summer in preporation for a bad winter, built a quaint schoolhouse, even outfitted the tiny church with stained glass windows and golden candlesticks for the alter, keeping the holy building well stocked with expensive beeswax candles and supplies for weary travelers in need. When the young brothers had control of the estate the commoners had wanted for nothing.
And when they died they had willed all but the great house away to them. The tenant workers became farmers and tradesmen, the smattering of houses became the makings of a village, and that once great house sat dark and empty.
Such melancholy thoughts were expected as he came nearer and nearer to his destination, splitting off from the crossroads, where a small alter with a slaughtered black lamb festered in offering and the shallow grave of someone who had taken his own life recently had not yet collected the soft delicate shoots of grass and clover. So close to winter he doubted it would grow even a pitiful patch before the first snowfall. Regaurdless he chanced the smaller, even more overgrown and neglected footpath over the main road to town. He did not wish to see any early morning risers before he had a proper rest.
He knew this road by heart, it had never been well tended, meant only for bringing the dead of criminals and suicides and offerings to the crossroads and confusing the restless dead, so they did not wander back to town. The path was hardly more than a dear trail and circled like a maze through the trees, a few small offerings over the years withered and faded in the trees and carved into stones. A heavy round stone carved with delicate runes, a made up language only known by the Walker Family, sat moss covered and ancient looking in in the rotting hull of what had once been a beautiful tree fit for the faerie court, it had been struck by lightning and smoldered to the husk it was today years ago, on the eve of one brother's death and another's decent to madness.
It was with great relief that he saw a break in the trees ahead, letting out into the underbrush of encroaching forest, overgrown from the summer, it would be hacked at for kindling as the colder months set in and the wood became wet from snow. He was cheered greatly as he set foot in the churchyard, the tall unscythed grass brushing up to his thighs, not at all frightened by the grave markers as he passed. The setting was as familiar to him as that of a reoccurring dream.
This was his boyhood home after all, and he knew for a fact no ghouls resided in this cemetery.
Looking he saw, off to the side and just on the edge off the forest stood the dark and imposing mausoleum that had once housed generations of Walkers, that estranged off branch of a wealthy titled family, until, a little under five years ago, the tenants of the graveyard had vacated without warning. In a single night fifty-seven corpses had risen from their crypts and disappeared over the hills, his beloved father among the wandering dead, leaving the only surviving Walker alone in the terrorized village.
Tired, suddenly so very tired, he took himself from the graveyard, through the rotting gate, to the dark and empty church with its broken windows and peeling paint. He set his pack down in the entryway before removing his cloak and hanging it on the peg, then bent to untie his boots. His worn stockings were not enough to protect him from the chill of the cursed and abandoned building but as he stripped and changed into a decent nightshirt he could feel warmth spread through his bones. The presence of the dead were always a welcoming blanket, and the familiar ghosts of this once holy structure whispered across his skin in a comforting caress. Lightly barring the door with his staff with a diagonal lean, more in a ward against evil than to keep out intruders though the sound of it falling would certainly wake him, he pulled a few moth eaten blankets from the shelves, dusting them out, and flopped down on the musty cot of the former clergyman.
He would face the villagers in the marrow, this morn he would sleep, and to the cross with all his anxiety. He was too tired to care.
"I'm home Mana" he whispered into the darkness, but he knew that of all the ghosts that plagued him the father he had betrayed was not among them.
Ardor Intimus is a oneshot I promised I would have up by Modraniht, sadly due to extenuating circumstances it will be a series of short chapters. This is a request asked of me, a vampire story that appeals to the more conservative fans of works such as Dracula. It is plumped with sex and folklore and ironic vampire clichés that we can chuckle at, it also ties in several other types of vampyres and begins to cautiously explain how the vampires of old were replaced with the sensual, beautiful, enticing creatures of the night that plague our literature and cinema to date.
Those who enjoy Vampire Au fics may want to take a step back and consider if you want a few fantasies destroyed with historical fact and logic, and those who dislike vampire fics should take that obligatory grain of salt and cast circle while you still can. This fic is not meant to appeal to either group, but to the casual reader who really has no preferences and can enjoy a decent plot ripe to bursting with sex and superstition.
Also I would point out that I greatly prefer Victorian and industrial times and that the early 18th century England is a little foreign to me, in addition North England is overlooked in most history, focus being mostly on London. Near all the North England I could find was heavily overpowered with Scotland and centered mostly on Yorkshire. What I could find about the Cheviot Hills were all modern, so if you have any corrections of the area, not including the purely fictional hidden forest and isolated town, please feel free to educate me. I know full well it is a greatly cultured area with a rich history and variation of language and I have been casually fascinated with it for a while though I never can find enough to satisfy me.