September 22, 2012 § 5 Comments
The plan was to get to Gunnar and convince him in coming with us until we (she) figured out who’s behind all of this, and if there really is someone attacking the ones that are closest to her. I tought of me, but I wasn’t a vampire, I figured I should be safe. You never know.
However, like all plans, this one had a glitch too. There needed to be a Gunnar to convince in the first place, which was not the case here. Gunnar was missing.
We searched everywhere. There were no footprints in the snow, which was already almost 10 inches high. It was still snowing, so that couldn’t have helped much anyway. The front door was unlocked, everything in the house was in order, nothing broken, no sign of fight.
The fireplace was cold, if there was a fire there, it was long gone. We checked everything and at one point Regina even started screaming from the top of her lungs for him. Nothing. The scream itself, couldn’t have gone that far into the woods. The blanket of white, fresh snow was covering everything and proved to be a very good insulator against sound. The snow dampened everything.
We stayed around for maybe another half an hour or so, checked the basement and the small shed with the horses there. They were locked each in his own little space, and the stash of hay was in front of them, no even 10 feet away. A stash that was supposed to last through the winter. They were starving. I couldn’t help it and let them free – I hoped they wouldn’t eat more than they needed – there was plenty of water around us. Hoped they survived.
There was no point in waiting, he was clearly missing for the past three or four days, and he wouldn’t let the horses just starve like that if he intentionally went away by himself. Or the door unlocked, and a few other things that people usually do before leaving the house, like closing the damn upstairs window.
Something happened to Gunnar, alas, he wasn’t dead – yet – just missing. But then and there, it was clear that someone, something, was on to Regina, on to her offspring. This was no coincidence anymore, Blanche, Viktoria and Gunnar – they were all attacked in the same night – thousands of miles from one another. This was coordinated, well tought, and it involved humans and vampires alike.
From there, we went straight to the meeting. This one wasn’t called for by Regina, but by the elders themselves.
There was a minimum cvorum to be met, for a meeting to have a valid reason – at least 6 elders, or 5 regions. It was met on both ends, and she had to attend.
The issue was not necessarily directly related to the attack problem, but to the fact that Viktoria was attacked by humans, a group, and in a no-go zone. She had to explain herself . There isn’t much control in their world, but when it comes to one of the highest members breaking two or three rules in the same night, there needs to be some sort of clarification.
We were heading for that meeting, which took place in Scotland. Yes, Scotland. I have never, ever seen such a beautiful place in my entire life until then – and from then onwards up until now. Not Scotland, not all of it – but the actual place where we went. I can’t recall the name (I don’t know if I was ever told the name anyway) – but it was this beautiful mansion – hell, castle – somewhere around or near Inverness. Huge, eight or nine huge 18th century style rooms, all having their own fireplace, their own bathroom and more importantly, four-poster beds. I felt like at home in a way, but much better.
I can’t even describe it – you have to see it – I would have posted a photo but I can’t recall the name.
It seemed to be like the one in France, perfectly equipped with everything you need, beds made hotel style, I figured it was either a hotel, or a rental, but not a private residence. It was too standardized to be a private residence, I didn’t ask.
In any case, we landed in Glasgow at around 22:00 and headed straight for a pub.
Nobody waiting at the airport – Where’s your god now, ha?!
And now the fun part began:[audio http://k006.kiwi6.com/hotlink/6ae2glh3mt/02_-_days_to_come_feat._bajka_.mp3]
It was dark, cold and snowing. We took a cab to “any open pub”. Seriously?
We got of the cab in front of a bar named either ‘the old sheep’ or ‘the old ship’.
“Wait here.” Regina said.
“I’m freezing cold. What the hell are we doing?” I was more than confused.
“Just go sit in a corner for five minutes, time out a bit.” She said and with that went inside the pub.
Regina never, ever told me stay out, or you’re not allowed to come in, and because of that, I didn’t insist. If she had a reason for me to stay out, I would stay out. This was no time to piss anyone one, neither her, nor myself. We were both hungry, tired and cold. Really cold.
Five minutes later, Regina comes out in a hurry, with new clothes, classy ones.
“What the hell did you just do?”
She didn’t say anything and started going in one direction, then changed it and we went in the other way around.
Imagine this: a crazy girl in the middle of the night, snowing, running from one side to the other of a road, searching for something, while a dude is chasing her, trying to keep up.
Finally, a car made the familiar beep beep sound and she got in.
You’ve got to be shitting me.
I was just happy we were not out in the cold anymore. But wait, there’s more.
The moment I got in the car, just a fraction before the light going out as she started the car, I’ve noticed a tiny bit of red on her new jacket. Blood.
I realized what had just happened.
“So….” I didn’t even say anything.
“Do you need a detailed plan with points and sub-points with what just happened? I’ll tell you what happened: When you get in a new city during the night, with no means of transportation, hungry as hell, and cold, then, you need a human.”
“Do you think this is the first time I’ve done this? How do you think I lived over the centuries? I didn’t always had someone at my disposal.”
“We’ve been on the road for three days and I’m really, really hungry.” She said and started accelerating.
“Check if your mirrors are properly set for your line of sight dear.” I smiled.
“Very funny.” She replied in a sarcastic tone, and we were off.
And I felt for her. I truly did. She was basically a homeless child. Seriously. She perfected the art of going in, taking what she needed, and getting out, in under five minutes. And I bet she did this thousands of times, in thousands of cities, all around the world.
I was happy she wasn’t so self entitled anymore to take from me. She did, quite often, but only when I had the chance to also eat and rest properly, otherwise she insisted on feeding on others. I couldn’t blame her.
By the time we got to the castle, everybody was there, including Blanche, but not Viktoria nor Lars.
I hugged Blanche like she just came back from the dead. See what I did there?
I did. And she told me she had to get out by herself, because there wasn’t anyone to get her out. I felt bad for her. Imagine, digging your way out from a grave. Well it wasn’t that bad. She wasn’t buried, of course not. Just put in a coffin, in a crypt, with a stone lid. Nothing she couldn’t handle. Blanche was officialy dead to the world.
I apologized for not being there, and explained why. When she heard about Viktoria, because apparently nobody had told her, she freaked out.
Regina entered the castle in a hurry, pacing the hallway with really hard steps, imposing steps, demanding steps. Head held high, fast-paced, she didn’t say anything to anyone, but instead headed straight for the dinning hall.
The elders present there were Karl, Jackson, Nikita, Giorgio and Edmund. Lars was missing. I expected more of them, for example the elder of the UK, Arthur, wasn’t there. And we were on his territory. I know his name sounds a bit stereotypical and made up, but that was his name. I won’t invent another name just because I want to make this story more credible. Arthur was the name of the elder of the UK, and he wasn’t there. Period.
By the way, the UK doesn’t include London. London has three different elders.
I sat in a corner away from everybody, making myself as small as possible, while Regina gathered everyone, without saying anything, around the table.
“Whoever is behind this is going to have a very bad couple of months….”
“Surely you don’t think it was someone among us?”
“Who else could have the knowledge or power to plan such a thing?”
“Any human or vampire can hatch such a plan! It’s preposterous to accuse us!”
“I’m not accusing anyone. But we have to deal with this quickly. We cannot reveal ourselves just like that, not now, not there!”
“It seems to me that you’re the one revealing too much….” Said Edmund while looking at me.
Regina said nothing in return, just stared at him. I stared at him too, from ten feet away. Everyone else was staring at me.
“I think you lived long enough to realize why he’s here… of all the people, you should know better.”
Later I found out the reasoning behind this. Most of them, especially Edmund, but other elders too, had something in common. All of them were turned by their makers straight into strigoi, over night, but only after having spent months or even years with them, from a young age. They were raised into it, and left to make their own choice. Apparently this yielded ambition, loyalty and no depression nor regrets over the years…. I kind of understood that. Regina turning me by force would have probably meant years of hatred, and a feeling of robbing me of my life which would have never ever went away. Gunnar was a good example of forced turning.
Meanwhile, Lars and Viktoria pulled in front of the castle. He literally got her inside like a sack of potatoes, on a shoulder, and dropped her on the table. She was a mess.
History was repeating itself.
Regina quickly jumped over her and started stroking her, pep talking her and trying to ease any pain she had. It was clear for everyone around, me included, that Regina cared for Viktoria more than she let out. I don’t think she cared for anyone else as much as she cared for Viktoria, even if sometimes she got more than violent with her.
“It seems to me that not even a year ago we were having the same kind of gathering, with Viktoria almost being in the same position.” Karl said, trying to show a fake smile and putting his blond hair on one side, leaning on the fireplace like he had no cares, with a glass of wine in his hand.
“Your point being?” Regina said, clenching her jaw and tensing up.
“I hope there won’t be a third time soon.”
“I took out as many as I could, but there’s still plenty left.” Lars said, while making more room on the table.
He was talking about Viktoria which was literally punctured from top to bottom by holes. Larger, smaller, straight or skewed, on all sides. Some were bloody, almost closed, some were closed already, but she was squirming in pain. I figured that ought to hurt.
“You crazy bitch, you’ve done it again!” Regina yelled at her while ripping Viktoria’s clothes off, or what was left of them.
Blanche was sitting on the table, behind her, above her head, holding Viktoria’s head on her lap.
“They tried grabbing me! I was minding my own business and they just came out of nowhere and tried grabbing me!”
“Wait, they tried to kidnap you?” I stood up and said while approaching the table. Regina was looking at me and we were both thinking about the same thing, Gunnar.
“Yes.” Viktoria said.
“Gunnar was taken.” Regina said, and with that they all gasped.
“WHAT?” They exclaimed in unison. It seemed to me that Lars was the one most pissed by this. Figures.
“But he wasn’t just anyone! He was of you! He was stronger than all of us combined!” Some didn’t agree with this, but none contested it.
“Well then, that just proves there’s someone really powerful behind this.” Regina said.
“Or really smart…” I said while I approached Viktoria.
“How many were there?” Regina said, and by now she was opening up each closed wound where she could feel any foreign object, and as soon as she opened it, the bullets started coming out, some by themselves, some by force. Viktoria was screaming from the top of her lungs.
“An… army…” Viktoria said and clenched her jaw in pain.
“HOW MANY?” Regina said again and inserted her fingers deeper in a wound.
“40-50!” Viktoria blurted out.
“How many escaped?”
“One… two maybe… I’m sorry… I was taken by surprise.”
Holy shit I thought. Talk about the Terminator, he’s nothing compared to her. I wouldn’t have wanted to see what she did when she wasn’t taken by surprise. World domination probably.
By now, Viktoria was near unconscious. The amount of blood she had lost was already visible there, in the room, not even considering what she lost on the way here.
“Food.” Regina exclaimed.
“There isn’t any.” Edmund said.
“I’m sorry. What?”
“Arthur was supposed to bring it, but he’s either late or we have another mystery on our hands.” He explained.
Upon hearing that, I felt shivers down my spine…. Holy crap, I was the only slice of pizza in a room full of potheads with the munchies.
I went near Viktoria and I smiled at her… then I put my left hand on top of her head, and slowly underneath it… I tilted it just a notch and with my right hand I pulled on my sweater down. I kept stroking her head the whole time she fed, and, for the first time, she mustered a Thank you. Trust me, that meant more than all the thank yous I ever got in my whole life, put together.
There were mixed feelings about this. Some were pissed that I did that, some showed appreciation, some didn’t care.
Viktoria was clearly getting better in front of my eyes after this, and I needed to sit down. She took way more than Regina usually did. I felt every beat of my heart, and I felt like floating, unable to focus my eyes on a certain thing. Way too much.
Lars got me water and I thanked him. Regina and Blanche picked up Viktoria and took her to one of the bedrooms upstairs. She came back down in no time. Blanche stayed behind.
Downstairs, Arthur was finally making an entrance with four other people behind him. Three girls and a boy. Humans. Food.
I wasn’t nearly as revolted as I should have been, and I witnessed a full night of chatter while they were feeding on them in the same time. For them it was just normal sipping, and by the end of it, all of them were almost as drained as me. Pale, weak and sleepy. One of the girls sat next to me.
“So for how long have you been at it?” The girl said in a very thick Scottish accent. She was a local, clearly. I could barely understand what she was saying.
“At what?” And with that she realized, but didn’t say anything, that I wasn’t also a local.
“You know… a donor. Who are you with?” She asked, in connection with me not being a local. She figured I came with someone.
“I’m not… are you a donor?” I asked.
“Duh…” She replied.
“And how does that work?” I continued.
She was shocked. How could I not know how it worked.
“You don’t know? Who are you then?” She asked.
“I’m…. Regina is my sister.” I said.
“Who is Regina? That one?” Clearly, the only girl at the table. But that showed me that she had no idea who each of them was. They truly were mere food. No friends, no close nothing, just humans – food. I wondered what will happen with them, because they clearly didn’t know that any human that knows about them must either be turned or die.
And she believed me, also, that Regina was my sister.
“And why doesn’t she turn you?” She continued. And without allowing me to answer, she continued:
“I can’t wait for the day when I get my chance to be turned. But I’m too young still.” – I wondered if this was something she decided, or someone lied to her about that. In any case, I wasn’t too keen on making any friends that night.
Point was, that nothing of importance was discussed as long as they were there, the other people. After the elders and Regina got their spirits up and relaxed a bit, Arthur made a subtle sign to one of the humans and they all left.
As soon as they did that, they started speaking more seriously.
“So. I understand now, if we are to believe her, that it wasn’t her fault for exposing herself to the humans. However, that doesn’t change the fact. There still are some of them alive, knowing who she is and what she is, and they aren’t in our reach.” Karl said and Jackson nodded his head in agreement.
“And what was she doing there to begin with?” He added.
“She was following a lead, I had sent her to fix something for me, but I never tought that the trail would lead her there. I think this might be a gray area gentlemen. Surely, it’s forbidden to go there, but this is really important for me, and if it turns out that I’m right, for all of us.”
“I’m on to tracing down Sigismund. And I have reasons to believe he might still be alive.”
They all froze in place.
“Well that changes things… considerably. We don’t want that, do we?” Lars said.
“I’m not sure…” Regina said. I didn’t understand, she still had the love for him, but for some reasons they all feared him and didn’t really wanted him back. And they never met him. Was it what Regina told them about him? Was it some history that I didn’t know? Was it that they were too comfortable with the way things were, and didn’t want everything to turn to chaos with the ruling hand gone – because if Regina would have stopped to be the oldest – well – that changed everything.
“As soon as she regains her strength we’re going back there and we’re solving this. I promise you that. But in the meanwhile, all of you have to work together to find out who is behind this. I’m being threatened and I don’t need to remind you of your duty.” Regina said.
“You’re not crossing the border! And that’s that!” – They all agreed and formed a kind of a small resistance in front of her. This was no democracy, but Regina knew better not to oppose them just out of ego. She nodded.
“And you’re not exactly being threatened directly.” Edmund said.
“It sure feels like it. Or do you want to wait until someone actually tries to murder me too?! Or him?!” And she pointed towards me.
That was a loaded question, because they had mixed feelings about me. And I can’t blame them. There’s a reason I didn’t say anything or didn’t stay with them, and just kept to myself. All of them, Regina included, worked for centuries to be where they are, to decide such things and to have the power they had. And yet, there was this human kid, not even an adult, threatening to jump over all the steps and all the years, and just be a part of them – of the very top – just like that, because the queen says so? That didn’t sit well with them, and I understood. Some of them were nobodies for decades, even centuries, before gaining enough age, knowledge and influence to be able to be the elder of a zone.
All in all, this was a rather peaceful – and entertaining – for them at least, gathering. I figured they should do it more often, without a reason like this. They did, once every few decades apparently. Go figure.
We went to bed around 4 or 5 in the morning, and as we were going up the stairs, I could see the sorrow and anger in Regina’s eyes, and right there, out of everyone’s eyes, for the first time – I got close to her in a way that sometimes says more and offers more than even a kiss. I took her hand… it was as simple as that. I never really held her hand until that point. Not like that.
I slowly took her hand and got close to her and said nothing…. I just squeezed her hand in a reassuring way and she relaxed in an instant… she just became…. much softer. She let go and we went to bed without her releasing my hand the whole night.
You would think that a being so old and who has seen so much violence and so much sorrow, would be immune to emotions and affection, stone heart they call it. But Regina wasn’t like that. She enjoyed life when life was enjoyable, and she felt and gave love whenever there was any. She was just like you and me, if not more.
You would also think that they would prefer to be alone, with their thoughts, in the shadows, but that’s false. Nobody wants to live a life by himself, not mentioning roaming alone through the centuries. We fell asleep holding each other face to face and smiling, and her last words before falling asleep were:
“Tomorrow we’re going home…”
September 20, 2012 § 3 Comments
A man dies twice. When his heart stops beating and when his name is spoken for the last time.
I wondered how long it would take in Blanche’s case to forget about her, because indeed, that is true death – disappearing from the minds of everyone you’ve ever loved, forever.
We were not yet out of the cemetery itself when Regina’s focus shifted from nothing, from relaxed, to full attention towards a flight of stairs that led to the other entrance. I didn’t hear anything but by now I was pretty accustomed to the fact that no, she wasn’t predicting the future, she was just expecting – or hearing – or having better senses, and could notice something before I did, most of the time. Sure enough, a minute later, a very common man, nothing out of the ordinary, around his thirties, medium sized guy with a local sense of fashion, approached.
Small side-story here:
He could have passed as a local and I wondered if he was someone from the town. I don’t know whether he was a human or a vampire. There are a lot of persons that I never found out about if they are one or the other, and this just proves to me, and maybe to some of you, how ordinary and common they are. Even for someone who has spent quite a considerable time with them, it’s damn near impossible to tell. And if I was to take this even further, and hypothetically make someone choose from two people, one human and one vampire, I’m fairly certain he would pick the human as being the vampire. They are just really, really… inconspicuous and hard to tell.
Like I said time and time again: the only real way that you can find out if someone is a vampire or not is by wounding him. This is something THEY CANNOT CONTROL. And I cannot stress this enough. Healing themselves is NOT subject to self-control. It’s a very strong mechanism that kicks in the second one is wounded, no matter if he’s conscious or not, dead or alive. As long as rigor mortis has not yet dissipated. If you don’t know what that is, read about it – but it’s basically the stiffening of the muscles post death, which occurs about two hours after death in humans, and about 12 hours after death in vampires. It lasts for two to six days in humans, and about a week or more in vampires, depending on how old they are. The vampire continues to heal through rigor mortis, and eventually springs back to life. This is the key to their eternal life.
HOWEVER – if the wound is prevented from healing – or the damage is just too great, rigor mortis dissipates and decomposition occurs. Once decomposition sets in, that’s it. This can be done in several ways – leaving the weapon inside the vampire – like a stake, you HAVE to leave it there for the full duration, or decapitation – which basically ensures that no healing will occur whatsoever, and decomposition sets in much faster. I’m sure you can get creative here anyway.
And one last point: rigor mortis can be extended indefinitely for vampires, in sub-zero temperatures.
End of side-story.
He approached Regina, did a very subtle nod towards me and her, and then stared a bit at Regina in an inquisitive kind of way.
Regina looked at me and then back at the man, and said: “Yes.”
I figured he was asking for permission to speak – not in the literal sense, but in the sense of “Who’s this guy and can I speak freely in front of him?”
She didn’t bother introducing anyone, which normally wasn’t the case, but right there and then I knew that he was no close acquaintance of hers, and I even doubted that they knew each other prior to this.
“Message to central five minutes ago. Viktoria attacked by unknown group of humans. She requires your presence, the cvorum has been met.” – The man said.
And then proceeded to give her a piece of ordinary paper full of numbers and special characters from top to bottom. Nothing meaningful it seemed to me.
But before getting into that, I have to tell you that this was truly for the first time after years that I had the least bit of insight into their ways of communication, which will turn out to be even more and more complicated – and yet so simple – in the months to come.
I had absolutely (and still don’t) no idea how she was found anywhere, anytime whenever there was a need. Somebody just popped up and relayed a message. At least that was out of the puzzle. I knew there was a messenger. But how he got it in the first place – or how the one that sent the message even knew where to send it and where Regina was – remained a mystery for a long time.
Basically – they have a central – not a nest or anything – just one simple phone number to which someone answers no matter what, day and night, and then proceeds on sending the message through a number of channels from one point to the other, no matter if it is another person or another phone number. I soon understood that the messenger had to deliver the message as efficient as possible, as soon as possible and as personal as possible – you can see how those three contradict themselves, don’t you? I could never fully understand the whole network or its full extent, it was damn near impossible and it would had taken me a lifetime to learn. It was not a standard network, it relied heavily on word-of-mouth, it changed from area to area and there was a high degree of subjectivity involved, meaning that each messenger conveyed and kept in touch with Regina as he saw to be most fit and efficient way for the given situation and area. Intercepting a message in this network was almost impossible, because the network was deliberately made in a chaos to the untrained eye, but nonetheless, Regina’s location was always available, and I had no idea how.
I figured she was keeping a messenger nearby at all times, but I later found out that it was more a matter of a “check-in”. And that’s why establishing territorial boundaries and control was important before any kinship presence could be established. Because she always had each zone carefully established and with known people in it, it was a matter of a simple alert whenever she arrived at any – literally any – destination within the influence of the kinship. She checked in – simple as that – and someone was made available instantly to convey messages if needed – and to provide any needs. And she wasn’t the only one enjoying this apparently.
Now back to the paper she received.
She focused on it for about twenty seconds, and then for the first time seeing her in a rush and unsettled, she said:
“We need to leave. Now.”
She gave the paper back to the messenger which made his way back to where he came from, and we started going towards my house in a hurry.
“What happened?” I asked.
“That message was from Viktoria herself and she’s got herself in a bit of a mess. We really need to go as soon as possible.”
A code that only the two of them knew – ever. An artificial language developed by the two of them over centuries. And I’m not even joking. It was not just a code, but was a language in itself – I don’t really know if someone could ever decipher that, because it literally had no spaces, no word formations, no nothing. It was just random numbers and special characters, one after another, spanning over an entire page. I never tried understanding it, because it’s of no use – You could never decipher a language based on nothing, and even if taught, I could never learn it properly. I need to tell you: This wasn’t by any means common, or used by anyone else. It was just the two of them that understood it – they created it – together, and never taught it to anyone else. It was their little way of making sure they are truly communicating with one another, and nobody changed, intercepted or interfered with the message.
“Where are we going?” – I was by now almost running down the steps behind her.
“I don’t know. We just need to leave right away to get there.” – That was confusing enough. Regina always knew where she was going.
As soon as we got home I threw in a small bag a couple of clothes for any occasion really, and just shouted away “I’m leaving” to my folks. This time they weren’t so understanding. With Blanche’s funeral and all – although they knew everything about it – it wasn’t so easy for them to leave me just vanish away, again, without knowing where I was going or for how long. I was growing up – but not as fast as I would have liked.
I basically gave them no choice but to accept. I didn’t have the time nor the will to explain everything. I feel sorry now for how I made them feel, but there’s no room for regret now.
As we were rushing out the door, I asked Regina again about what happened, and only when we got in a car she relaxed a bit and told me what happened.
“Viktoria was attacked by a group of humans, she’s hurt apparently but safe for now. I need to deal with this urgently, because as you already know, there’s rarely one human than knows about me or her, not mentioning a group of them.”
“But Regina, if Viktoria was attacked not even two days after Blanche, doesn’t that ring a bell?”
“What?” – She replied.
“They are both… yours.”
“I would bet that this is a new trend, and we need to find all of those that you turned.”
She had an epiphany right there and then, and pushed the car even harder.
“Change of plans.”
We were in the airport in under 40 minutes and in a plane in under two hours. Although it took over eight hours in total to get there, we finally did.
We were in the plane.
“How many descendants do you have anyway?” – I wasn’t expecting an answer to this really, I felt it was way to personal, even for me, to ask her.
“Just three, out of which just Viktoria was planned if you must know.”
The three were of course Viktoria, Blanche and… Gunnar.
We were heading for Gunnar, and as soon as we landed in Gotheborg, Regina checked in with Lars, the elder of Scandinavia, and told him everything that has transpired, and more. It seemed to me, that from all her acquaintances and elders, Lars was the one she not on liked, but trusted, most. Except Viktoria. Maybe.
Lars was already aware of pretty much everything and was also prepared to leave. Later about that.
As we left his place, Regina ended the very short conversation with:
“…and whatever you do, don’t step over the border.”
And with that we were on our way straight for Gunnar. If you don’t remember who Gunnar is, read the post “vampires don’t dig for the past“, last part, after the last photo.
From Gotheborg we took a flight to Trondheim, Norway – the last bastion of Regina’s influence. Everything north of Trondheim, is a no-man’s land. I’m not saying there aren’t any of them, I’m just saying there’s no elder covering that area, be it Sweden or Norway. Scandinavia, north of Trondheim, is without influence. Nobody applies any rule there, and because of that, too few of them go and settle there permanently. The most gruesome stories I’ve heard between them took place there, in the middle of nowhere, with nobody hearing or ever knowing anything. Regina herself didn’t condemn anything as we talked on our way there. It was truly a ‘everything goes’ zone, but it’s rather safe for humans, because like I said – there are very few of them in such a large area, and none of them really stay there permanently. If you have something to do there, good, if you don’t, you’re most likely not going to be there anyway.
The flight to Trondheim was horrible enough, in the middle of the winter, but the drive there was even less pleasant. I honestly expected us to remain permanently trapped in the snow, and with nobody in sight and a hungry Regina next to me, my chances weren’t really good. I mean one can eat snow for only so long.
And while we were at it, we also talked about what she said to Lars.
You see, Viktoria was in triple-trouble.
First, a group of humans knew who she was and what she was, and wasn’t exactly clear if she was to be held accountable for this.
Second, she was in one of the very few areas in which Regina strictly told everyone not to go – for no apparent reason I thought – until then. There aren’t many places where a vampire can’t go, but one of those places is a considerable area of modern-day Turkey.
And third, she was very badly hurt.
Regina sent Lars to pick-her up and transport her to safety, guard her until the cvorum met. He was supposed to do this without stepping over the border, which is not a human border, but the territorial border of the kinship’s domain in Europe. It is basically the strait that divides Europe from the Middle East, it divides Istanbul in two, it is the strait that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara.
Viktoria was on the wrong side of the border, and Lars needed to pick her up with the help of – you guessed it – humans. Even in a situation like this, Regina obeyed, or feared, going over that imaginary line.
We finally got to Gunnar. The plan was…
March 3, 2012 § 6 Comments
It was a surprisingly short drive from Arlanda to where we were going. After a mere 50 kilometers and a dash of more conversation we were entering a town. At first it seemed like we were heading into nothingness, surrounded by old and tall mountain trees that looked like over-fed and over-grown Christmas trees. However, as we entered more deeply into the town I could see this was no village.
We were in Uppsala. A town, which at the time I didn’t knew, was the old Viking capital of Sweden and the whole Scandinavia, back in the 1200 if I remember correctly. This holds no true relevance to the story.
We shortly stopped around the town and just… well, Regina seemed like a tourist. She seemed interested, she seemed amazed by the town. It held no special meaning to me, it was just a bigger version, more cleaner I could also say, of my hometown. Old buildings and the occasional cobblestone streets.
“Can I take photos?” I asked.
“Of what?” Regina quickly replied.
“Here, go stay in that bush. I’ll make a model out of you.” I said mockingly.
She laughed loudly and we thought nothing of it. We just kept walking and, what I didn’t knew about Uppsala, was the fact that it also held the biggest church in Scandinavia, and the oldest stone one in Sweden I think.
It was huge. Gigantic I tell you. I had never seen such a big church in my life. I have to correct myself, this was no church. This was a cathedral. And although I had seen the Milan Cathedral (in Italy) previously, somehow this church seemed taller, but not as wide as that one.
As we were walking past it and I was admiring because what else was there to do, Regina pulled me towards it and in no time we were headed towards the door. I didn’t really wanted to know what we were doing, but I was happy to see the inside. I was always a fan of old architecture, and although it seems something of a geek hobby, it wasn’t really a hobby. I just enjoyed watching beautiful things, is that a crime?
I understood why Regina dragged me around town all this time. She waited for the sun to go down, but I think she might have gotten tired of waiting because it was almost past 21:00 and the sun was still shining. I had learned on the spot that the sun in Sweden, during June, does not set until 23 and rises at 3 in the morning. And if you go ever more up north, the sun doesn’t set at all for a few days during summer! Go figure!
A vampire in Sweden! HA! That seemed hilarious. But then I remembered that there’s a winter too, and the same thing happens during the winter. Little to no sunshine. Aha…
In any case, we waited for it to at least dim, because it did. It was a in-between light, and we needed it. We were making a breaking and entering. Into a cathedral. Into the biggest cathedral in Scandinavia. Lord have mercy on my soul if you’re up there and real and watching what I’m doing now, I thought.
Well I have to tell you, that the door was… well, you couldn’t take it down even if you rammed a car in it. No.
Regina had a different technique however. She had a key! A key! I didn’t even want to know how and most importantly WHY would she be in the possession of a key from the front entrance into a world-renowned cathedral. But she was, and we were there. Well, at least no breaking in the “breaking and entering part.”
We went in like two mice, in broad daylight (well almost) with people around us and everything. I was actually amazed that nobody saw us going in. The cathedral was supposed to be closed I figured, by how tightly the door was locked.
In any case, as soon as we went inside I saw the beautiful inside of the church and my jaw dropped. It was out of this world. It really is something, you have to see it. We walked fast down the path leading to the altar and I thought we were going to say a prayer or something, but just in front of the altar, Regina turned a left and went behind it. The altar had some kind of a fake wall behind it and there was yet another room after that.
What I didn’t knew at that time was that the room hidden behind the altar – which by all means was open to the public all day long – was the most important one. Also, creepy wax model staring at you behind the altar. I do have a photo with that if you’re interested, which was taken sometime… later. During normal hours.
The walls around the room were literally taped with Latin texts, white or gold (can’t remember) on a blue background, that I can remember. And in the middle of the room, was the center-piece, of course.
I didn’t even need to ask – I figured it must be someone really important in that tomb, which was all marble and cast iron over it, and in the lid were sculpted three silhouettes. In the middle there was a man, with a crown on his head, probably a king I thought, and on each side he had a woman. Now that was a man who knew how to go into the afterlife.
I took the liberty of reading the texts and I quickly found out that there laid the most beloved (and apparently important) king that ruled over Sweden. Gustav Something. I kid, I kid. Gustav Vasa was his name.
There were little to no windows inside the actual church, which made it dark even with the dim light outside, but above us (well, not us, the tomb, because that was the important thing here apparently) there were nice, big windows which let the mild sun shine over the room. It made everything look even more golden that it already (physically) was.
“Tu esti barbatul asa ca hai pune cotu’ si ridica sau impinge cu mine.”
“Trebuie sa ridicam chestia asta, mormantu asta, sa-l dam la o parte.”
“Tu esti nebuna? Asta-i cel mai important rege al Suediei. Din principiu nu pot sa fac asa ceva, mi-e si rusine de mine daca fac asta.”
“Sa vezi ce rusine o sa-ti fie daca nu faci asta…”
“Rusine ca ai fost batut de o fata.”
“Mai poti sa ma ameninti mult? Daca vrei sa-l ridici, ridica-l singura.”
“Da’ nu pot SINGURA!”
“N-am mancat aproape nimic de cand mi-ai onorat inimia cu un dar, si sunt slabita.”
“Da’ daca nu vrei sa ma ajuti, atunci….”
That talk was in Romanian. I just felt the need to say it in Romanian first. However take notice, that although I write in English, the conversation was, most of the time, in Romanian. About half of the time I would say, and the other half in all kinds of languages which I was trying to understand, like Italian, French, Spanish, English and sometimes Russian, which I know nothing of.
But here is the actual talk for you.
“You’re the man so put a shoulder here and pull or push with me.” Regina said.
“Excuse me?” I replied.
“We need to lift this thing, this tomb, move it aside.” She explained.
“Are you crazy? This is the most important king of Sweden. Out of principle I can’t do a thing like that, and I would be ashamed of me if I did.” I said, trying to convince her to stop insisting. I didn’t want to see a corpse that laid there for hundreds of years.
“You’ll be ashamed alright if you don’t do this…” She said, trailing off and then quickly adding “Ashamed you’ve got beaten up by a girl.” I believed her. She was getting angry. Not angry that I didn’t want to lift it. I couldn’t even if I tried, but angry that I refused to cooperate, almost all the time, not just now.
“Aren’t you tired / Can you threaten me any longer? If you wanna lift it, lift it by yourself.” I said.
“But I can’t do it ALONE!” She shrieked at me.
We were arguing by now.
“I haven’t eaten anything since you honored my heart with a gift, and I’m weak.” She added.
“But if you won’t help me, then…” and she didn’t finish that sentence. Instead she pushed me with a hand towards a wall that it almost cracked behind me. She was in front of me, pushing me harder against the wall in a second afterwards.
She started kissing me.Nnot in a “I need love” way but in a “You’re getting it” way and I knew I was. I knew what was next. I could feel her fangs extending and grazing my tongue, which she bit also, just to toy with me.
And then I submitted, when she stopped kissing, I willingly turned my head and let her sink her teeth in it. No pain, nothing, that was good. She actually, against all her anger, made it a pleasant thing. I swear I could hear her thoughts, I could feel her emotions and I could see her, like she sees herself, in her mind. I don’t know how to explain. This thing formed such a strong connection every time, that you almost felt one and the same with her. I wondered if she felt the same. I wondered if she felt the same with everyone, not just me.
In any case, with a bit of practice, if indeed we felt the same, I was sure this was the key towards telepathy. Rhyme not intended. It was just that strong. I could feel her heart beat, in my mind. How is that possible? That doesn’t even make any sense!
She finished and didn’t even bother to heal me up. She just left me another nice puncture on my neck. Sweet. I wasn’t mad anyway, because what came next, shook my world again.
I swear to you, that tomb could not be lifted by a fork lift. It was massive, marble made, over half a ton. There is no way in hell ten people lift that. It didn’t make any difference if I helped or not. Physically. Well, I did, but not with my muscles.
She ran her fingers across the floor, at the edge of the tomb, trying to find a good spot to grab, and she found some kind of a ridge because in an instant I saw all her muscles tense like they were about to burst. Her face turned red – yes – it turned red like it does for me and you when trying to lift something heavy. She started shrieking and pulling hard on that. I literally thought she was either going to break her back or have a heart attack right there, but the tomb started moving. I couldn’t believe my eyes, she was lifting the damn thing, which was not only crazy heavy, but also untouched and unmoved for centuries. It was practically soldered to the ground from all those years standing there, but that didn’t stop her.
She lifted it about 10cm and then she started pushing it to the side. Then she let go of it, slowly, with no booms and poundings of the floor intended. As she laid it down, I circled around the other side and marveled at what was before my eyes. There were stairs beneath the tomb. Actual stairs, leading into pitch black.
She didn’t say a word, I didn’t say a word. We both knew where we were going and I didn’t have the guts to tell her I’m afraid of the dark. I just followed, and we descended beneath the old cathedral, through a narrow (very narrow, we were on our sides, advancing) tunnel, which was also dripping went and moist and just generally disgusting, and we kept going. I thanked all the saints that I knew and the ones I didn’t knew for not having claustrophobia, and continued going. Should I mention we had absolutely no lights and it was so dark you couldn’t see anything? NOTHING. Not even your finger in front of your eyes. Nothing. It was the darkest place I’ve ever been.
It was so dark that not even Regina could see. She made that abundantly clear several times when she asked me if I’m still there. And I can tell you, she wasn’t happy at all. She was not comfortable being blind after centuries of seeing perfectly. Not a bit. She was getting anxious, angry, frustrated and I truly hoped there’s no such thing as a claustrophobic vampire because that would not only be the most ironic, the most hilarious thing in the world, but also the most unsuitable for the time and place where we currently were.
I think we went through that tunnel at least a hundred meters until we reached (finally) a room. It wasn’t a big room, no. Just a simple two by two round room. Perfectly round I must say.
As we got to the room, she got a lighter and started setting things on fire. Torches. Four of them. It got bright and hot sooner than expected.
“You have light and didn’t say anything?” I asked frustrated towards her “secret.”
“I think you only have about five minutes of oxygen in here with all these torches.” She replied instead of an answer to my question. I was satisfied with it nonetheless.
“What is this place anyway?” I asked in an attempt to change the subject.
“This my dear, is my maker’s vault I believe.” She replied.
“So you’re not actually sure…” I said and waited for a reply, which came sooner than expected.
“Well, before going away, he told me that if I ever needed help, I should come here. I never did, until now, and so here we are.” She said.
“So what are we looking for then?” I said while trying to make heads and tails of the room. The walls were covered in holes, and each hole held either manuscripts, book, artifacts (jewelry), and all kinds of weird things, like dried herbs. I started poking around and kept trying to find something that was actually of a certain value to us, not money wise. But before I had the chance to come through as the victor, she replied to my last question.
“I believe… this is what we’re looking for.”
And sure enough, I stopped searching, because that caught my attention.
“Wait a second… don’t tell me he made the… this…” I said and trailed off looking confused.
“This doesn’t make any sense.” I added.
“Why is that thing here, why is it exactly like my necklace and why is Sigismund related to it – and WHY both of them are the same with Vlad’s seal, The Order of the Dragon?” I asked. Too many questions.
“I don’t know, but I believe this…” – and she ripped the necklace off my neck – “goes here.” She pushed the actual pendant in the middle of the ouroboros which had a perfectly carved inverted pentagram in the middle, just like my necklace. It clicked – it clicked! – right in.
Nothing magically started moving or opening, but instead the metal dragon ( the ouroboros ) jumped back by a few millimeters, we could see and hear it, and Regina rested her hand on it, looking at it confused, and then she tried pushing it back but that only made the pendant fall off from the spot.
She took it off the ground and pushed it back in, making the ouroboros once again jump out by a bit. She again looked at it and rested her hand on it but this time, instead of pushing, she grabbed it tightly and turned. And it started turning.
By god she looked like Sherlock Holmes. I was awed at how exciting this all felt, feeling giddy inside, but had to notice that the whole thing was nothing more than a lock, a clever, but primitive lock. What I did care about was, why the key to that lock, was being worn by me for all these years, with no clue of what’s dangling around my neck.
The head of the dragon turned exactly 180 degrees and then it clicked, but didn’t move. Regina stopped and then ran her fingers across the edge of what seemed a brick, and pulled.
The “brick” came off, rather hardly, but it did. I think it would have never been possible to take it out without breaking the whole damn wall around it, without the key that is.
Inside, there was one, very small and old book. No hardcover, just a bunch of pages wrapped in a thick leather hide – raw leather hide, untreated. It looked so fresh – and so raw – that I was surprised there wasn’t any fur on it still.
“This is it.” She said.
“Let’s go then because I think you were right about the air.” I replied.
“I was just joking, the tomb is still open…” She said.
“Or is it?” I said in an attempt to mock her too. Which worked, very much.
I think there was nothing more scary for Regina than being trapped in a lightless, soundless tomb. Nothing. I think that was also the reason she came back for me and released me from the crypt that first day also, besides the necklace. I really do.
You see, if someone would have been to actually close the tomb, I would have died in probably oh, about two days maximum, after I had run out of air completely. But her… well, she would have lasted much, much longer, even without air, she would have died slowly and painfully, and that was her curse. And her deepest fear. Being trapped.
A human – couldn’t be so scared – you’re not actually scared of being trapped, but you’re scared of death. She instead, was scared of not being able to die – SOON ENOUGH – for it to be acceptable.
I realized my mockery and its effect intended was more than I had planned for. I realized that when I found myself alone in the whole thing, because Regina rushed towards the entrance to the crypt, and when I say rushed, I mean she was there in under ten seconds, when previously it took us two minutes to reach the room.
She was yelling at me from the entrance to hurry up and stop being a “slowpoke”. Didn’t knew what a slowpoke was but I swear to god it pissed me off more than it should have. That, and the fact she didn’t at least have the common sense of leaving me the damn lighter. One crypt in my life was enough for me, seriously. This was just not funny anymore.