May 21, 1916
It is late tonight. I have decided to keep a journal of my thoughts, as I often like to look back on my life and remember the times that have passed. My name is Eric Lecarde. Today was the most important day of my life.
Gwendolyn, my life long love, has become my wife.
I had been moved to England at the age
of five with my family and was brought up there (my birthplace
was in Segovia, Spain). There I met her, living just down the
block. Ever since then, we were friends. As we entered our teenage
years, it soon became more than just a normal friendship. We began
to fall in love with each other. One spring day, when I was nineteen
(that was just under five years ago, I cannot believe how long
it has been) I proposed to her, and she accepted with great delight.
How happy I was that day!
And the day of union finally arrived. We were wed in the early afternoon at the church here in Veros (we agreed to go back to her hometown in Romania to live), and settled down in the house we bought for ourselves a week earlier. Now, I lay here in bed, having just forged the ultimate bond between my wife and I, writing in this diary. My dear Gwendolyn, how beautiful is she! She lies there in comfort, knowing that I will protect her, watch over her, love her. It is such a wonderful feeling to have someone care for your more than anything in the world. I should probably go to bed now, as I am getting a bit sleepy. I still have to work tomorrow. I am a a traveling bodyguard to the mayor of the town. The wretched snob would not let me off the day after my wedding. Such is life. Good night, diary.
May 22, 1916
I must say, our first full day as man and wife hadnt quite been what I had expected. The mayor, Nicholas, kept me late, so it wasnt until the sun had set that I saw my Gwendolyn again. She had been cleaning the house, and prepared a delightful dinner of roast chicken for me. I told her of my day. Nicholas would be traveling to a nearby town, and needed me to come with him. I protested vehemently, how could I leave my new wife behind? He seemed to be unsympathetic. Cold old man, never been married, probably never even courted a lady. Anyway, he said it would only be day. I could see a light of disappointment in her eyes when I spoke those words, but she was understanding, and acknowledged that this job was putting food on the table and keeping us well. She said she was sleep from the work that day, gave me a kiss and retired to bed.
A day. But that time period, it would
be torture! I long to see her everyday! I do not wish to make
her lonely, but what must be must be. I must leave tomorrow morning.
May 23, 1916
This town our mayor has rode into is rotten and vile. He is visiting some old friend of his. I can barely stand the smell outside of my chamber. I must stay awake this time, for the safety of the mayor (although personally, I would much like if someone would sneak up while he was in his sleep and slit his throat). I cannot help but think of Gwendolyn. Perhaps the reason I am forlorn is that I keep thinking about her. She is an independent woman, Im sure she can take care of herself. That is all I shall write tonight.
May 24, 1916
Today was a day of utter panic for me. When I returned (it was night, as we had a late start), I found it odd that Gwendolyn was not only missing, but she had not left a note as to her presence. Knowing that no police officials would be open, I climbed into bed with a sense of utter despair. I dont think Ill be getting much sleep tonight, as my stomach is turning in fear.
May 25, 1916
I had only gotten a few hours of sleep last night, and that was only out of utter exhaustion. I ran around the house, hoping to find that Gwendolyn had returned, but with no results. At first rising hour I dressed, ran to the local officials, and asked the chief, McGregor, if anything had been spotted while I was away. It was a good thing that he was an old friend of Gwendolyn... I could get inside information that they would not normally give away. He said that this was the first disappearence that had been reported. There had been some strange things happening while I was gone... some cats were found dead on the streets, drained of blood, as well as the bloodied of remains of dogs, chickens, and even cattle found in parts of the village.
The only suspect is custody was an old woman named Drolta Tzuentes, who was being kept for witchcraft and attempted murder, under the penalty of death. She had been apprehended five days before. The constublary where already looking for her, as there were reports from the villagers that she was standing in the middle of the town swuare, slitting the throat of a rooster while in a pentagram made of palm ashes. According to McGregor, she had been apprehended when she attempted to break into a house. She was found holding an unholy sacrificial dagger, and was immediately put into custody.
My first question was: why did this woman try to break into this house? I was told that the owners were already questioned, and they had never seen the woman, nor had any idea what she would be doing. An idea struck me... even though it seemed to be a stretch, maybe I could get some information out of this Drolta...
I entered her cell and explained my situation. I hadnt intended on being very threatening, but as a bodyguard, I have to be menacing to some degree. Drolta was a very stubborn old woman, but she listned intently to what I had to say, how my wife had disappeared and if she knew anything about it.
All of a sudden, the look on her face changed from that of thought to that of malice. She hinted that she maybe had an idea what was going on, but only if I could give her something in exchange. For a human on death row, that meant freedom. I wasnt really sure if I could consciously do that... letting a mad woman roam free for my own selfish purposes. But I knew that I had to do everything in my power to find my Gwendolyn, even if that meant doing something erratic. I agreed, even though I had no legal power to do this. I exited the cell, talked it over with McGregor, and he relucantly gave in. I know he cared deeply about Gwendolyn...he was almost like a second father to her.
I went back into the holding chamber and drilled Tzuentes for information. What had happened? Where had my love gone? Did it have any relation to the nonsense she was carrying on?
Only one word escaped her lips: Vampire.
I had heard of vampires in legends. Unlike many of the townspeople, I actually believed them to be true. One of my closest friends, John Morris, had watched his father fight and be killed by Count Dracula, the father of the undead. He would tell me of the nightmares that he would have, fearing that someday he would face the same fate. I have lost contact with him as of recent, but I knew John to well to know that he wasnt making this up. But what did this have to do with what I was investigating? I asked to this Drolta, who seemed a bit giddy to get out of the stinking cell she was now in.
Again, her response was extremely brief: Castle Bartley. She claimed that was all she knew. Her "magical" powers had sensed an aura coming from that place. I had a stange feeling she was lying about this magic of hers, as she did not strike me as a very bright old lady. I threatened her, I wanted to know more! What did that old rotting castle have to do with anything? It had been uninhabited for years, and it was falling apart! Even at the face of death by my hands, she did not say any more. I left the cell, chatted with McGregor for a quick second, then watched as he unlocked Droltas chamber and escorted her to the street.
I had a lead now. It wasnt much
of a lead, but at least it allowed me to plan. I must think of
an approach to this... tomorrow, I shall explore this Castle Bartley,
and see what the old hag was talking about. I think I shall need
May 26, 1916
Sleep did not come easily last night. I awoke just after dawn and prepared for my siege. I opened the locked cabinet in the basement... the one which held a Lecarde family heirloom, an Alcarde Spear. It had not been used in ages, but I knew the time was right for it now. Being somewhat familiar with vampire lore, I took my knife and sharpened the wood end of the spear, forming a small stake. Taking along my cape, I left my house and began my trek toward Castle Bartley.
I had seen the castle in the distance ever since I moved into Veros, though it was quite a distance... it was going to be a long hike, probably several hours. I had already checked with the local stagecoaches, none would go near the castle.
I had asked Gwendolyn about the castle when we arrived. She said it was an ancient castle, long deserted. The Bartley family had died out many years before, for one of their daughters, Elizabeth, was tried and convicted as a vampire in the early fifteenth century. Thus being associated with the wicked Tepes lineage, the family was run out of town and later killed by various bounty hunters.
I thought of this as I walked through the woods, up the path to the castle. Vampire? Perhaps the townspeople did not know how to kill a vampire. Maybe... could it have been possible that Elizabeth Bartley had risen from the grave again? But how? Then the whole thing struck me... perhaps Tzuentes had inadvertantly resurrected Bartley from her unholy grave!
Around noon, I stopped on the trail and ate my lunch. I had already traveled quite a bit, and I was getting tired already. The castle loomed closer, but was still a good distance away.
It was well into the afternoon before I came across the castle. There was no moat, and oddly enough, the door was unlocked. Pushing the gigantic doors aside, I entered into the dank old castle. As soon as I stepped over the threshold, bats flew from the places and spiders scampered. Apparently, it had been a long time before anything living had set their feet in this area. The old place was dusty, but imagined that many years ago, in its prime, the castle would have been beautiful.
Seeing no where else to go, I walked up the stairs. The echo of my footsteps resounded throughout the place. It was very lonely indeed, but I promised myself that it was all for a good purpose.
I entered into the door at the top of the stairs, and was utterly frightened when the door behind me slammed shut. Without any warning, a lumbering corpse came upon me. I hit it with the butt of my spear, sending to the ground, where I drove the tip through its rotting head. A zombie? Such things existed? I reminded myself this was a house of living horror, beyond the realms of anything I had ever know before.
More of the zombies brethen close in on me. With one very strong swing, I chopped all of them into two pieces. A sinister cackle came from behind one of the columns. The voice seemed oddly familiar. It was Drolta.
"Ah, the deary has fallen for the trap! Master always wanted the fresh, young blood of a strong warrior! She says that it tastes the best."
Blood rushed through every part of my body as I screamed, "What has been done with Gwendolyn?!"
The old woman glared at me. "You will find out in time. But know that she no longer belongs to you."
Rage shot me over the edge. Something had been done with my love! Without even thinking, I charged Drolta, spear-first. Truthfully, I dont think she expected me to act as fast I did, for she didnt get out of the way fast enough. I drove the spear through her wrinkled body and withdrew it. Blood flowed from her throat as she collapsed to the floor and gurgled.
Someone called my name from side as I watched the witch die. I turned around, and to complete delight, I saw Gwendolyn! Yet something was different about her. She was dressed completely in a white dress that flowed behind her. Her skin was pale and her lips bright red. But she still welcomed me closer.
"Have you trekked all to the way to this horrible castle to save me? Why, my love, I owe you so much! But I am fine now. Come, walk over here and give me a kiss." Gwendolyn opened her arms, as if asking for a hug.
Once again, emotion got the better of me as I ran toward her and put her once again in my arms. But her grip tightened, as if almost to squeeze the light out of me. She put her head on my shoulders and began to approach my neck.
I knew something was wrong. I pushed her away and saw her eyes gleaming an unholy red. Gigantic fangs, dripping with saliva, was exposed from her mouth. I knew what had happened. I was too late. Gwendolyn had become one of the undead. My love was lost.
"Come here, sweety!" she beckoned. "We can be together forever!" Her eyes once again fixated on my neck. This was no longer the Gwendolyn I once knew and loved. This was a horrible monster, controling her tormented soul. I knew what needed to be done.
She had to be freed.
I ran forward and butted the temptress with my shoulder and she went flying done on the floor. I walked over to her. Her eyes were still glowing red. She cried out for mercy. "Please, my love! You dont know what you are doing! We can live together eternally!"
"As the undead?" I responded. "As mindless beings controlled by evil? My dear Gwendolyn, I would rather die now than live forever as a slave!" Fear rushed through me now. There was no other choice for what I had to do.
I turned the bottom edge of the spear toward the ground and dug the sharpened stake into Gwendolyns breast.
A banshees shriek echoed throughout the hall, causing the windows in the room to shatter. No light shone through from the windows, as it was now dark. Great amounts of blood sprayed from the wound. With agonizing pain, I pushed harder on the spear still in her heart. The blood stopped shorty thereafter, and I removed the spear.
I looked at Gwendolyns face. Her flesh was no longer white, but was its normal color. The fangs disappeared from her mouth. She opened her mouth, and whispered her final words:
"Thank you, love."
Her head turned aside, and she was dead. I knew how to complete the ritual... if I were to prevent her resurrection, I would have to cut off her head. But I did not have the strength to do such a thing. Tears flowed from eyes as I knelt over Gwendolyns corpse and wept.
A cloud of smoke appeared before the body. A figure of a woman clad entirely in red appeared. She giggled sadistically at the sight of my sobbing.
"You have killed my mate! And shattered all of the windows to boot! Tsk, tsk, you need to be taught a lesson. May I introduce myself. My name is Countess Elizabeth Bartley." Her eyes once again turned the horrible shade of red and the fangs extended. "Pleased to make your aquaintance!"
She began to come closer to me. For a few seconds, I wanted to let her have me. I wanted to die. There was no reason to live, to continue the torture, of letting my love out of my hands and killing her myself.
But sense struck me. This was a fate worse than death, I had told that to Gwendolyn. And I would let myself succumb to the evil Countess? Never! Vengeance must be had.
She began to descend on me, but with amazing reflexes I rolled out of the way. Bartley hissed and began to run toward me again. Ducking out of the way, I took my spear and stabbed her through the back. With amazing strength, she turned around, took the spear out her spine and ripped it from my hands. She broke the spear in two and tossed the parts aside. With no weapon, I was almost defenseless.
In my combat training we learned that, if unarmed, use any other item you can find to defend yourself. Finding myself near the windows, I picked up a large piece of shattered glass from the floor. It cut through my own flesh, but the pain did not matter.
Bartley once again approached me, but again I jumped out of the way. I struck her arm with the glass, causing a gash. Bartley screamed again and paused. I use this opportunity to strike again. I ran forth and raked the glass across her stomach, stabbed her, and forced her to the ground. She still wailed in pain. As I began to bring the glass shard upon her head, she suddenly turned into a mist and began floating away. I heard her voice.
"You arent worth it, even for a delicious young man such as yourself!" She floated toward the open windows, where she morphed into a bat and flew out into the night sky.
"Come back, you rotten bitch!" I yelled. But I knew no words would do anything to her. I went back to the body of Gwendolyn and prayed. I would have my revenge. Everything from my life was gone. I will track down Bartley, and kill her. I will drive a stake through her heart and tear her fucking head off with my bare hands and send her back to the pits of the hell from whence she was spawned. For my own inner peace. And for Gwendolyn.
FORWARD TO PART TWO
RETURN TO FICTION SECTION