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Blood for the Dead

Old Vault Category: 
Old Vault ID: 

It was late afternoon, and night was beginning to come to the Borovian countryside, suddenly, as it always was want. The nobleman turned his gaze upon the landscape that lay below from where he stood upon the manor's balcony. The forests lay thick about and even those old manor walls which formed his house: were tapped by branches which made many a macabre scratching as the winds blew. It reminded him of the fleshless claws of some restless dead, and diverted his thoughts from peace to morbid notions. He sighed, and was about to walk back into the manor when he spied a company of travelers upon the rugged path to his door. He was to have some guests!

The knocking was as expected, and soon, the nobleman's hand was upon the knob of the door opening it. Before his eyes were three people: a man wearing a green coat, a woman who was dressed in a drab gray dress, and a young girl who wore a black cape and riding hood. All in all: a rather dreary-seeming group. The man in green spoke first: "We have come from abroad, sir... and your house is the first glimmer of civilization I have spied in these parts. May my wife and daughter, and I, lodge here for the night? For twilight dawns, and if your kindness is not to be, we may perish!" The nobleman eyed the man, with a hint of odd humor. "Twilight does not dawn, my good man, rather it falls as does a curtain! And you may enter my home, for I would not have your blood prey to a beast of the evening upon my lands when I might spare them the pleasure of it." The man in green seemed to think a tiny glint of these words was peculiar, but said nothing. He introduced himself and his family, instead: "I am Kurt Mercer, and this is my wife Candra. The child is named Azraella. We are on route to the city of Borovia, which lies beyond these woodlands. You know the perils."

The nobleman chuckled to himself: "I do indeed, Kurt, my good man! Better than any man living do I know the perils of the lands in which my family has dwelt: for the past two centuries. My name, in case it matters to you, is Venfrey. My family hails by the name of Lasdon." Kurt, Candra, and Azraella stepped into the manor's foyer, and kurt said quite honestly: "I have never heard of you."

It was agreed that before retiring for the evening, everyone should be fed well, for the Mercers were hungry after so long on the road. They all gathered in the dining room, and the servants of the household spread a sumptuous feast before them. Candra was particularly impressed, and Azraella appeared bored. The mother was dressed still in grey, and the child was without her cape, and so her frilly black dress, black ribbon about her slender waist, could be seen. Kurt kept his coat on, for he felt some unexplainable chill that wouldn't pass. Kurt had eyes only for the paintings on the walls around the chamber. "Not one of those women or children on the walls bears even a likeness to you, Venfrey. Who are they? Surely not your family." Venfrey stared off into space, and gave his reply sadly: "I have no family. I am quite alone here save for servants, who are loyal to me. Otherwise, I have taken to realizing I am the last of my line." Candra stopped eating for but a moment, and commented: "You are in all of the paintings, Venfrey... but I see not one man other than you. Those with you must in some way have been dear to you... or you surely would not be seen with them. Do tell us, who they were!" Venfrey was unable to touch a bite of food now, although was had been hungry. He glared at Candra, saying: "Those you see upon the walls were old friends and old loved ones. They are no more... so you will forgive me if I desire not to speak of them further?" Then he stared at Azraella, which seemed to make the young girl feel ill at ease. Candra was polite, and apologized for having asked of so difficult a subject matter. Kurt was distant the whole night after that.

Venfrey's appearance was striking and it made Azraella almost frightened whenever she looked at him. He was pale but his skin had a slightly red tone to it, as if his blood was part native to some ancient tribe, from some old time. His eyes were piercing and blue, while he wore a beard and kept his hair long in a neat fashion. He was, perhaps some might argue, handsome. But something in his face, made the child shudder. Even in his fine clothes, all black, there was something of the forest about him, a wildness that was calling out to her. Something her graying and clean-shaven father did not have about him, was that quality. A quality Azraella also felt. The pale, auburn-haired nobleman also had a kind of sadness within him, and it troubled the young girl... greatly.

Venfrey noticed her staring at him now, as he was showing Azraella and her parents to the house's guest room. He said nothing... for he knew that this dark-eyed and raven-haired girl had a quality to her that he found familiar. The mother lacked this quality, and her dark looks were clearly the only thing Azraella inherited from her. How very strange, he mused, that age robs of so many what magic they must have held in their youth! He held back a moist tear and waited until everyone was settled in before retiring to his chambers. He hoped the three meager beds would allow his guests some measure of comfort. It was ironic that he felt none, anymore.

The grandfather clock tolled the midnight hour when Venfrey rushed over to answer the knock on his room's door. It was Azraella, who meekly asked: "May I come in, sir? I can't sleep tonight." Venfrey smiled, and said: "Would it not be more seemly to seek solace from your parents than a stranger, little girl?" and the child said, blankly: "What it is that makes me come to you, sir?" and the nobleman rubbed his bearded chin, offering: "Perhaps we are alike in some fashion, eh, my dear? I'll wager you do not know whence your name comes." And the girl shrugged, whispering: "What do you mean, sir?" He whispered back, in a conspiratorial tone: "You are named for the Angel of Death, my little angel! I see her beauty... in your black eyes." and the child felt a sudden chill, just as thunder clapped outside and rain had begun to fall hard upon the woodlands. Venfrey picke the girl up and sat her in a large, comfortable chair. "Remain here for now, and enjoy the fireplace near the chair. I must attend to other matters at present." She thought not of it when she heard him leave, and heard the locking of the door behind him.

The clock struck three when a loud scream filled the manor. Azraella awoke after a troubled sleep of two hours at best. "Mister Lasdon!" her soft angelic voice cried out, lovely even in terror. Why did she not cry for her parents? It struck her then, how peculiar she felt. The scream was a man's, and a second... a woman's... followed upon it's sound. A maidservant unlocked the door and did gesture for Azraella to follow her. In a kind of trance, she did so, and soon found herself back in the guest room... where her parents lay in pools of blood upon the floor, dragged from their beds and, by the look of it, torn to pieces. The maid closed the door, and left the child to stare, weeping, and wondering out loud: "Did I cause this, by not... calling for them when I should have?" And Venfrey's voiced answered from one of the dark corners of the room: "No, I am to blame for this misfortune, child. Not you." But his voice was gutteral as a beast's, and when he stepped into the lamplight... which kept the chambers of the manor from darkness.... Azraella so wished that the darkness would hide for all of time, the sight of his hands and mouth as covered in her parents' blood. But where hands should be were claws and where teeth should be were fangs... the nobleman's blue eyes were now red! The child screamed: "Vampire! You, are a vampire..." and turned to run away as she learned, all too late that the maid had locked her in. "Please, sir! Do not hurt me." she pleaded, as Venfrey came towards her, stroking her hair with his bloody hands, smearing blood across the tresses. "I could never harm you, dear child. It is for you, that I have done this! To liberate you from your former life so you will have no regrets about joining me in eternal death. Besides, I could feel that you wanted this, deep within your soul. Where the darkness I share with you lies!" And Azraella knew every word the vampire spoke was true. He offered: "Imagine! You would never have to grow up, age, and die like the mortals you and I were born to. Think of the gift I am offering you... to be a true angel of death, forever more!"

Her breath had quickened so swift, that it had ceased altogether. His lips upon her tender neck had made her lose all sense of what was real and what was not. Had she surrendered to him, or did he leave her no choice? She lay looking up at the ceiling. Where was Venfrey... the vampire? She turned her neck to see that she was lying between her parents, whose corpses by now had been drained, of all their blood... what was left of them had been, anyway. She went to cry out, but nothing came from her lungs. She was dead, but living and yet still unable to move. Like in a nightmare we long to awaken from but know we cannot! Then, a shadow loomed over her, and it was Venfrey. "You have the choice, now. You can choose to die, and I will not let you taste of my blood and live. Or, you can choose to live, and taste of my blood, which will make you like I am." He gently kissed her face, and pressed into her hands a doll. "For you... for the daughter I never had." he whispered and was weeping... every tear of blood. He said, at last: "Please... choose to live! I could not bear to lose another and have to paint another portrait to remember your beautiful face by." And then Azraella understood who all those in the paintings were. Like her, they had been given this choice. Not one of them, evidently, accepted the offer she had been given. She would not be one of them! She would accept, if only so that she would not just live on in that art. She nodded her head to signify a yes, and the vampire fell upon her, savage, yet doing her no harm. His blood was on his lips, and he kissed her full on the mouth, his tongue ensuring that she had received his blood. "Drink of it, my daughter... my beloved... and you will live forever." He said in between, and resumed the forbidden kiss. She sucked his tongue... savoring his warm blood. The more of it she drank, the more she enjoyed it's taste. It eased the chill that had been within her until now, and it was so hot that it made her sweat... a sweat that was blood. Then... as she found herself clutching him, as cruelly as he was clutching her... darkness did take her reason and all was black as a starless night. She dreamed she died.

Azraella held the doll close and looked out upon the landscape the next evening. It was late afternoon, which always fell suddenly in Borovia. It was going to be her second night as one of the undead, and she turned to look into the face of her father... her lover... who had made her everything she now was and would be for all of time. His hands rested upon her shoulders as they stood together. He smiled, saying: "Earlier, I had all of the paintings in the manor destroyed. Only one now hangs there in the dining room, and I want you to see it." The two of them walked together, hand in hand, and entered the room that not so long before had filled her silly parents with so much curiosity. And she saw upon the wall behind Venfrey's seat a single, solitary portrait. It showed her holding her doll, with Venfrey just as he was now, his hand upon her small shoulders. "I painted it whilst you did slumber prior to your awakening." said he. "How do you like it?" and she was filled with a fresh delight. "I do love it, my father... my beloved! But I must confess, I have a powerful thirst that I had not known before. How do I slake it?" And Venfrey chuckled merrily, like a normal father thinking of some game for his child to play: "Oh, my dear! I think that will delight you the most. Let us go out into the woods tonight, and hunt. You will enjoy the sport..." That night, there were two wolves that ran in the woodlands and two bats high on an evening wind. And wherever it was their impulses took them, blood flowed, and fangs drank their fill of it. Like father, like daughter! Soon many tales came to be told, by the frightened and superstitious peasants of the area, of the Lord of the Woods, and the little angel of death who served as his lady.

All this attention, unfortunately, reached the ears of a local paladin who was a stern woman that vowed to destroy this growing threat. In full armor, she set out for the manor one evening, and found Venfrey and Azraella to be home. The servants, were dismissed long ago. The paladin did not knock. She put her foot to the door and broke it down in a shower of splintered wood. "I am known as Alethea Zornomere, and I bring you the peace of true death!" That was all she said... as she faced the terrified little girl and the proud nobleman. The two vampires suddenly attacked her from front and back, but could not do her a death with that armor she wore all upon her. Venfrey took a mace from the wall where some old arms were hanging, and struck hard upon the paladin's helmet rapidly, trying to make it come loose. Thus distracted, the intruder noticed not that the child had crept around her back and jumped upon her. Finally, the vampire girl wrested the helmet free, and Venfrey struck Alethea a hard blow to her head, which should have killed her at once. The heaviness of the mace caused him to spin around; exposing his back to his foe... the paladin saw her chance and swiftly drove a long wooden stake straight up into Venfrey's heart through his back. He collapsed unto the floor... coughing up blood. Seeing the point of the stake protruding from his chest, Azraella leaped upon it so that she could die in his arms. Alethea sank to her knees, dying from loos of blood from the side of her crushed head. She watched at Venfrey ran his hand across Azraella's hair one last time, saying to her as he died: "At least... I have waht the Dark Powers promised me. I am not dying alone and unloved." With her final breath, Azraella whispered to the man who had given her both her greatest sorrow and her greatest joy: "You will never be alone, even beyond. I shall be at your side... always. I am your angel of death. Look into my eyes as we die, and know... peace." Venfrey heard these words and looked into Azraella's eyes. Together, they turned into dust. Then, Alethea knew the error of what she had done and begged the Dark Powers to see her remorse. The Dark Powers, listened, as the paladin's blood mixed with her tears. At that moment... all went dark.

The old manor remained a place for travelers to stop at on the way as they sought Borovia, and the countryside was as ever fraught with peril. But now, a year after the tragic incident that had brought her into contact with the Dark Powers of Ravenloft, Alethea Zornomere looked at the portrait of the two whose lives she had taken, and placed a kiss upon the canvas, as she did every year on Samhain. Her platinum hair and pale skin accompanied her flowing white gown and pure white eyes. She licked her red lips... her tongue flicking against her fangs. She was... still getting used to those, but when her hunger came on her she found them as familiar as friends. She was lonely, but that was to be her penitence. This lonely watch, as Lady of the Woods: with not even servants to care for her. But there would be guests as there always were... and she would be there to welcome them when they were in need of shelter for the night. She would be there to deprive them of life and blood, and a portion of it would be offered every Samhain Eve to the Dark Powers, so that even beyond this world Venfrey and Azraella would never need thirst. That was the price for her own immortality... and if ever she did not honor it... the Dark Powers would take back their gift, and that would be the end of her. But she would honor it! For having been a paladin, Alethea knew of the importance of honor. Before she did honor Lathander. Now, she had new gods to worship. And look! New guests were approaching. How remarkably convenient!

- A New Beginning

Blood for the Dead © Chaos_Theocrat

Migrate Wizard: 
First Release: 
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