March 8, 2012 § 3 Comments
As soon as I arrived at the mouth of that awful underbelly tunnel of the cathedral and got out Regina started pushing the massive tomb back into place, giving me inquisitive and rallying looks to help her out, which I didn’t, again. Didn’t matter anyway, trust me, I’m a gentleman, but she needed to be reminded at times that I can refuse things also, although she reminded me pretty often that I can’t – so it was kind of a cat and mouse struggle all the time, which we both enjoyed, if only a little.
We left quickly and quietly, the same way we came in, and Regina as a master of deceit that she was, easily remembered to lock the door back as it was, no suspicions left behind. What kind of “thief” locks the door back? That’s just wrong.
In any case, as we started getting more distance between us and the cathedral, and no I don’t mean running, we just casually continued walking as peaceful as we approached it in the first place, as we started doing that, I made a mental note that I really needed to come back here sometime, alone, and go back in that room. One would need months to go over everything that was inside it.
So I did, years later, without Regina. Don’t ask me how I got in or how I moved the tomb because that took months to accomplish. In any case, I snapped a photo for old times sake, here.
We continued walking until we arrived at a hotel where we stayed for the night, and I remember the awesome place where we actually went to eat, yes, we BOTH ate, which was rather amusing to see. For one, she’s not used to it, anymore, and two, I think she acquired so many “manners” from so many different cultures over the years that it was just a mess really. You would expect her to have more control over these things, but not really, no. She mixed them all just hoping to get something right. In any case, the restaurant was kind of special, above and near a river, I think it was an old river mill transformed into a restaurant. But that holds no relevance. What is relevant though, is the talk we had afterwards.
Regina was sitting quietly in a corner of the hotel room, on the floor, no chairs needed apparently, and just going through the book she (we) took from the crypt or chamber, because there were no skeletons buried there, so a crypt wouldn’t exactly be the term. Also, calling it a book is stretching it really. In any case, I said nothing of it and minded my own business, which was writing in the diary and making phone calls back home. I needed to do that almost every two or three days, because I was gone for a pretty long time and it’s not really a usual thing, not even for my very dear and liberal parents, to let me leave with someone who they didn’t know, someplace where even I didn’t know, for “some time”.
“I know how to find him.” She suddenly said.
I had stopped writing and was looking at her bewildered. Confused. It didn’t make any sense. First, how could she know if he’s even alive? Second, how would she know where he actually is and third – WHY IN THE WORLD WAS THERE A VAULT WITH THE SHAPE OF MY NECKLACE AS A LOCK IN THE FIRST PLACE?
I asked all of those questions, in that order.
She read that book, which apparently was written entirely for her. And she showed me. Awful handwriting if you ask me, but it was clearly written there. Everything, but somehow encoded because every single line needed interpretation. You see, you couldn’t make heads or tails about what actually everything means, unless you personally knew him, and knew him good. And there was one person in the world, one and only, that knew him good enough. Regina. It was meant for her to read.
She didn’t knew if he was alive, but she had a hunch on how to find him. And the necklace part proved out to be easy. Remember how I told you repeatedly that the necklace was hers? Well, it was, until he left with it. Not as a gift. That offered some comfort, although raised more questions. Why? Isn’t that always the question really, why?
In any case, among the last entries that we could decipher from his notes, there was one that stood out.
“I’m now done with what I was meant to do, and there’s nothing more to do for me in this world, except saying goodbye from the lands which gave me life. And if you shall need me, I will be there, like I said, offering my help. Search for me at the end of the world, and you will find me. I will not have rest until I will know that my effort was not in vain and my life was not taken away for nothing.”
This book was not written in ANY language that I had seen until that point. Trust me, it was not Latin or not even a Latin based alphabet. It was not Cyrillic, not Sanscrit. No. It looked even more rudimentary and obsolete than the Egyptian hieroglyphs for me, and yet Regina had absolutely no, and I mean NO problems in reading it like a poem, fluently and without hiccups.
I didn’t bother to ask at the time what language it was, and later on it slipped my mind to research on it. You have to understand, that was the least of my concerns and questions. It was a language so obscure that I didn’t knew, and that offered me enough comfort to be sure that I’ll rarely meet it again, if ever. I wanted nothing more to do with it.
But sure enough, fate, trust in it or not (I don’t) offered to shed some light on the matter, and take away my smugness. I wasn’t that smart after all. Because any casual walk through the same town (Uppsala) will offer the answer. Here’s the answer below.
That right there, above, is a rune stone. They are scattered around Uppsala and other parts of Sweden. On it, you see a language. That my friends is a runic language. Yes, like in those “magic” stories that you hear with rune stones and everything, these things are actually real and touchable in Uppsala.
Of course, runic languages could be, basically, studied by anyone. But to be as fluent as Regina or write a whole book in it, now for that you really need a lot of free time.
So let’s get back to the last entry in the said book.
“The lands that gave me life…” Regina whispered under her breath and before I knew it she was set to go.
“We’re leaving.” She ordered (not said) me.
“Good, I was getting bored robbing tombs anyway.” Yes, I’m that sarcastic. Once I get used to the situation.
We left Uppsala and drove for almost a whole day. Just the two of us, we kept driving and driving up north. It got colder and colder even if it was summer, and surprisingly, it got brighter.
By the time we pulled over for the final time, it was almost 1 in the morning and the sun was still shining, although mildly. Go figure.
We were almost at the border with Norway, in northern Sweden, and I don’t want to tell you that in Uppsala, it was hot and sunny, but here, we just went back to early spring, in less than a day.
Apparently in the middle of nowhere, but not really.
We walked for about two miles through… well, almost mud. The car was useless there, it looked like a path but it was really moist, so instead of taking the car we just walked until we came up to a big wooden house, painted red and with a lot of windows. It looked weird to me, but then again, I guess that’s the style they built things around there.
Regina knocked on the door just as we were visiting some friends, and when her knocking was answered, I could see that there are few places on Earth where she doesn’t know someone. You see, a really big fellow opened the door.
He was twice as me, I shit you not, and his biceps was the size of my head. IF this was how a Viking looked in the tales, then this guy was their leader. Seriously, you could not paint a better picture of a Viking.
Barreled chest, no shirt on. 10 degrees outside. Long hair, blonde but not really. It had dark stripes in it, and some stripes in-between. Those hands could crack me in half in under a second.
As soon as the guy opened the door and saw Regina, he stepped back and frowned. He looked angry. I did not want to make him angry. I did not want to even see him angry. He looked best sleeping I imagine, nobody could be comfortable around him.
“Gunnar, still alone I see. You never did listen to me, did you?” Regina said and walked inside without asking for permission.
“You’re not welcomed here, why have you come? Did you decide you finally want to die?” He replied.
Ohhh snap, I thought. This won’t end well. If this guy has the guts to speak like that to her, well then he has the means to back it up too I imagine, and he did, almost.
“Don’t make me angry Gunnar.” Regina said.
“Make you angry?! YOU?! How about me? You demon! You took my family away and then left me to be forever aware of that!” He quickly shouted back at her. I could feel his breath from two meters away. This was truly the elephant in the room, literally.
“Listen. I need your help.” Regina said. Oh?
“You? My help? I won’t even if I can!” Gunnar replied.
I said nothing, backed up and just stood there watching the whole thing. But even so, I got my share of adrenaline.
“And you? Do you know who she is? Do you know what she did to me? Are you just another of her toys? You have no idea what you’re getting into boy!” He said to me.
“I’m afraid I am…” I replied.
He said nothing more to me, looked a bit amazed that I took this willingly, but instead turned towards Regina.
“Still, you enjoy torturing children, QUEEN?” He said the last word in a mocking way, as in making a fool of her title.
“I don’t have to explain myself to you. Will you help me or not?” Regina hissed towards him.
“No, I won’t. Now leave my house.” He added quickly.
“Then I’ll help myself.” She said in a rather quiet and calm tone, and with that Gunnar was well… flying? You don’t really… I mean… You can’t imagine such a big man actually being as much as smudged, or… you would think he wouldn’t even feel it. But he did.
Regina was half his size, in all the possible meanings of the world half. Half tall, half (maybe half of half) thin, half everything. And yet she made him fly. There was no magic involved, trust me. In a quick move she was behind him and pushed him, from behind, towards the door. He literally flew the four or five meters to the door, and that didn’t stop him. He took the whole door and a chunck of the wooden wall with him, and rolled outside in the mud.
“Still using violence to make your point…” he said and this time prepared, launched towards Regina. I had absolutely no doubt that if he could punch her, it would crush her skull in an instant. But that was always her advantage, not only strength, but quickness. Agility. Those two combined are deadly, you rarely see them combined for that very reason.
He looked at me and saw me not reacting, realized I wasn’t going to, ever. And I really wasn’t. There’s no way I would as much as poke him with a stick to check if he’s dead, not even mentioning standing up to him. Call me a coward, I don’t mind. I’d like to see you in that situation.
The fact is, I was wrong with him punching. As much strength as he had, as many muscles as he had, it made little to no difference to Regina. You need to understand, most vampires obey the rules of physics, gravity, strength and all that. But Regina was so strong and so old and so fast, that she was borderline supernatural at times. She made full stops without apparently submitting to inertia. She went almost full speed in a second, again defying that very same law. She jumped higher than any animal can, apparently defying gravity. But this was all strength. It was all pure, pure strength, which came from someplace other than muscles, because fact is, when he did try to punch her, with all his might, she casually stopped his fist two centimeters from her face and pushed him back as a grown man would push a child. He stumbled and fell to his ass in the mud and, like me, was amazed. I had a feeling this was the first time he actually tried punching her.
I also had a feeling he had a death wish, because he tried again, with no result other than a broken arm. And again, I must remind you, most of them seem very strong, but inside the knowledge belt, where you can actually, although stretching it, explain the way they work. But Regina, Viktoria and a few other old ones, were really borderline supernatural. At times it seemed they can read minds, it seemed they can really hypnotize humans, it seemed that they can fly, or have infinite strength.
And trust me, seeing it in front of your eyes is like heaven revealing to you, because you instantly understand that all those myths, all those stories, come from someplace, come from true facts, but they are passed on, re-told and re-written, and the facts are distorted, exaggerated. You see, that flying thing is no more than jumping, hopping really high. But they don’t stay there, up in the air. They obey the same rules we all do.
The supernatural speed is not that much of a speed, and certainly not a total blur, although fast. But it’s pure strength. You could do it too, if you had the strength to do it. And the reading minds part, that’s non-sense. Any person who lived more than two hundred years can tell what you’re thinking or what’s your opinion on something. Go talk with your grand-parents, and dare to challenge that.
Hypnotizing? Charisma, the art of negotiation, the art of manipulating, the knowing how to choose the words, the eternal bet on making the other he has something to gain. If you have the time to gain that knowledge, the human mind can be bent really easily, add charisma and mystery to that, and you have yourself a mind-reader/mind-bender. Nothing more than knowledge.
Back to the story.
Gunnar really had a death wish, but Regina just refused to satisfy it.
“Gunnar, I’m not going to push this further. I just need two damned horses and you’ll never see me again. I hope.” She said.
“Two horses?! That’s why you came all this way?! For two horses?!” He seemed not to be that bright if you ask me, and that stereotype with the strong muscular guy but not that bright started to sound more truthful by each word he said. Of course we didn’t come all that way just for two horses.
“Go take your pick, and when you’re done with them just let them free. They will find their way.” He said sulking a bit.
“And don’t come back here again you ugly, ugly woman.” He added.
I must say, this man was one of the few that defied Regina, and hated her in the same time. I wonder what she did to piss him off that much, for that long, whatever long meant.
With no time to waste, as this was the middle of the night, apparently, we went in the barn, got two horses, with no saddle, no nothing on it. Just two horses and that’s it.
“Do you know how to drive this model?” She asked me, mocking me in return for my mockery when I made fun of her for… well… handling a stick (manual transmission that is). No sexual connotation here, really.
And I actually did. And I actually like it more than with a saddle, really. I had a horse back home, which I visited rarely, but we knew each other, and he agreed on letting me ride him whenever I came to see him.
But that was the thing, it’s rather hard to control a horse which you don’t know. You don’t understand each other, and that just makes it awkward. We jumped on the horses and with a slap on the side of the neck and a gentle push from Regina, we were off.
I must tell you, that thing with horses being afraid of vampires, that was actually a bit true. Her horse stood back, jumped and turned before actually letting her approach. She had to be as gentle as a flower, she approached really slowly, smiling, talking with the horse, standing back and trying again. Letting the horse know she meant no harm. They needed a five-minute bond really, just standing still one next to another and doing nothing.
My horse was rather more understanding. I just approached him and with a gentle pat on his head and a “Hey dude” we were friends. Really, some people talk with horses as like they are babies. “Hello buddy… how you doing…?” That’s just retarded. If you want the horse to trust you and treat you as a friend, then be comfortable with the horse and treat him as your friend also. The horse FEELS you, doesn’t understand your words. And if you have an attitude much like that which you have with a baby, that doesn’t help.
Let the horse feel comfortable, and he’ll respond the same. If he’s not a douche. Mine wasn’t, and Regina’s accepted her eventually. That, and the fact that mine was a male and Regina’s was a female. I think that helped.
But enough with the horses.
We started riding (still north, which sucked) and continued to do so for a long, long time. And when I say long, I mean we only stopped to let the horses rest, for half an hour, and then started again. I think we rode for more than half a day, and when we finally stopped I was hungry, thirsty, tired, sleepy and all that.
Regina provided. This girl could take care of herself, and me, no matter where we were.
She disappeared for twenty minutes and came back with – wait for it – believe me or not, a moose.
Drained moose, dead moose, but still warm moose.
She had her lunch, and I already had a fire going. No rubbing sticks survivor style, I had the technology! A lighter! (Yes, I was a smoker, so what?).
I had no clue on how to actually eat a moose. I had no clue how to prepare it, and she didn’t either, at least that’s what she said, because I had the hunch that she just wanted to see me make a fool of myself, she took great pleasure in that, but it was nothing ugly really, it was just a girl making fun of a silly boy. We fumbled around deciding which part I should eat and eventually I roasted the upper part of a leg, which was pretty big, and just left the whole thing there to rot away. A waste if you ask me, but it was more than I needed, and took some for the road also. At least Regina provided her big bad golden knife. I felt more grateful than ever for her carrying that thing around all the time, no matter where we went.
As for the water, there was plenty of water all around us. I drank without fearing I’ll get sick, I was too thirsty for that.
We slept for about four or five hours until the sun went mild again, not down, just tuned down.
I wasn’t cold, not a bit. Regina was radiating heat, really. She was almost burning, and with the fire next to us, it felt good enough. Nothing to cover ourselves with and still made no difference. It felt good enough to sleep and so I did.
When I woke up Regina was gone, the fire was out. As soon as I started turning around and trying to get the fire back on, Regina was back smiling.
“I thought you left me here.” I was joking, in a way…
“No, just my morning run.” Yeah really, like she jogged to keep in shape. Somewhere another moose was having his last breath I imagined. Good thing we were almost at the north pole, otherwise a human could be doing that instead of the moose.
We went back to the horses which stayed in exactly the same spot, all night, not tied down to anything. They just stayed there. I had my doubts about the “they will find their way back home” part that Gunnar said.
Still, we jumped back on them and feeling like we know each other even better (us and the horses), we started riding again.
This time, we stopped after less than 5 or 6 hours. We stopped in front of two walls really. It looked like a house, but all that there was left were two stone walls still standing, everything else was nearly leveled, with vegetation growing in the middle.
“We’re here.” Regina said.
“Here where actually?” I replied almost instantly.
“This is where Sigismund was born, and I think this is what he meant by the lands which gave him life.” She explained.
“And you think he’s here…?” I replied.
“No, but I think he might have been here before leaving, wherever he left, if he ever did.”
“So what exactly are we doing here?” I asked.
“We’re making sure he’s not dead and we’re chasing ghosts in the first place. If he died, I’m pretty sure he died on his own terms. I’m sure he would have wanted to lay with his family, which by my approximation, should be buried right here.” And with that, she was standing in the middle of the “house”.
“Who would bury his family under the house?” I asked.
“He would…” She replied.
“Start digging.” She said with a commanding voice. Excuse me?
“Me? You dig!” I replied offended actually.
“No, no. I don’t think you understand. Vampires don’t dig graves, ever.” She said.
“None of them, or just you and your superstitions?” I replied.
“It’s not a superstition. I just don’t like digging up the past, no matter if I need it or not. So, start digging.” She added.
I was pretty certain she meant it, and I was pretty certain that one way or another, she will find a way to make me dig that damn house. Also, I wasn’t in the mood of fighting with her, again, which would yield, in the end, the same result.
“With what? You didn’t bother telling me we were going to do this, so we can actually get a shovel.” I added, hoping that would get me off the hook.
“Oh but you don’t need one, it’s merely half a meter thick, maybe less. I’m fairly certain they are laid in a crypt and not the ground itself.”
That didn’t sound like a Viking burial to me, but I trusted and hoped that was the case, and started “shoveling” with a sharp rock that I found. I felt awful. I felt like digging my own grave, and by my calculations, if Regina ever wanted to make sure nobody could find me, this was pretty much the spot.
So I dug and dug, for what seemed like hours. She seemed tired and bothered that I’m not faster and made absolutely no effort in helping me. She paid no attention to the fact that my hands were almost bleeding, and just told me to hurry up. I felt like a slave really, but all that went away when I saw the look on her face when my rock hit another rock, making a noise which you can’t miss.
She was actually proud, that I managed to do this without complaining and saying anything more. This felt like punishment and training for me, in the same time. Although training, I didn’t know what for. Punishment, maybe…
As soon as we heard that sound, I stopped and stood up. She got down in the mud on her knees and started continuing what I had been doing for the past two hours, hurried to uncover everything else there was to uncover.
And she did, although she took ten minutes herself, not so fast as she thought it would be, but I welcomed the break.
By the time she was finished, underneath all that, was one big crypt, square, as to fit two or maybe three people. Nothing written on it, not even a cross, nothing. Just one big stone lid.
She started pulling on it without hesitation, disregarding the earth that was still on top. I knew she wanted to know once and for all, if her maker still walks the Earth or has been gone for ages…
And with a crack of that stone and more pulling, with me helping this time from the other side, we managed to pry the thing open. Something that was sealed for so many hundreds of years, two people with absolutely no clue what they were doing, opened the forbidden tomb. Disturbed the peace that the dead deserved…
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.
March 2, 2012 § 3 Comments
Now, you might think that, for the way I talk about her, I’m sure slow in taking the right choice.
But you have to understand, it’s not that easy. It’s not easy deciding to murder the person you love. The only one.
Because Regina was not just any other girl. Her death would not just affect me and her, it would affect a million other vampires, and at least that many humans also. And if, by any chance, all the history stories I’ve heard among them, are actually true, then I don’t even want to think how it would affect history. Or how it did these past five hundred years.
The reason I didn’t decide in killing her just yet was, well, because you see, I wasn’t sure if the way she affected the world was good, or bad.
She was 100% percent good, and in the same time, 100% evil. How is that even possible?
I’ve been raised, and taught, that things are either bad or good. Sometimes in-between. But this situation right here, was the biggest dilemma of my life, and I couldn’t even comprehend how is it possible. Regina wasn’t good, or bad, or in-between. She was both as good as she was evil. How?
And then I thought – this is impossible to reason. For once in my life, for the first time, I was faced with a decision which had to be taken with my heart.
And so it was.
Fuck the world, fuck all of you.
And like I said, decisions like these are not made in your brain, you don’t know where they come from or what line of thought you followed. They just happen, and you just act.
I pulled the knife from her heart as easy as it went in, but this time slowly. As slow as I could. I didn’t know what to expect, but I stepped back, went in a corner, left the knife on the floor, and waited.
It didn’t take long, I didn’t even have time to put my thoughts in order.
She woke as violently as she went down, it was as if her anger was frozen in time for a bit.
She instantly saw me, and snarled at me, the coughed violently. I was in the corner, scared out of my mind, looking at her face.
“Please don’t kill me.” – Lamest thing I could find, but it was the most sincere request I had ever made.
She smiled, turned a bit around and started coughing again. She was clearly weakened.
I took the chance, encouraged by her smile, to approach her.
As soon as I was in range, she pulled me on the bed, turned around and in a second was above me, holding my neck tight with her left hand and with her right hand on my heart.
She was listening and feeling my heart.
I was frozen. I was expecting her to grab my heart in her hand and just literally squeeze the life out of me.
“The most beautiful thing in the world don’t you think…?” She asked.
“The sound of a heartbeat…” She added.
I said nothing.
“AND YOU TOOK IT AWAY FROM ME!” She then shrieked.
“You took mine a long time ago…” I was being romantic, maybe it would work to water her anger down. It did.
“Suppose I should be happy now… you made your decision.” She said.
I didn’t understand at the time, but later on it made sense. You see, she always knew that I was split in opinion about her. She always knew that I would either decide to kill her at one point, if given the chance, or to protect her with my life. And she needed me to make my decision. This was me making my decision. I had decided to protect her life no matter what.
It was much like having a relative trying to commit suicide. He always says he will, and you try to hide the knife. But can you really keep a knife away from him all his life? No. So then what do you do? You give him a knife, leave him alone, and leave. When you return, if he’s dead, you failed, but if he’s alive, maybe a bit cut but alive, then you succeeded. You helped him make that decision. The decision to live. Because a man who really wants to end his life, will not cut himself just a bit, to attract attention. No, he will cut himself beyond any repair.
And I understood Regina, she gave me the chance, the knife and I took my decision.
But all this time, I was being fooled.
You see, the Codex Strigis does say that a human has the last say in the decision of murdering another, but in case of Regina, the treaty of Vienna that she herself made with the elders, clearly states that “you will all unite for a common goal and cause only if it endangers the queen or the kinship.” And what I done, checked both boxes.
It was, a very, very sneaky trick of her, making sure she was safe from human hands and protected from the Codex. But this is something that I’ve learned only recently, at the time I was very convinced that my decision would have been respected.
“Viktoria?” She asked.
“I think she’s alive.” I replied back.
“Should I thank you also for stopping me taking the life of my beloved?” She asked again.
I didn’t answer.
“You… a human boy. Not even of age… You are my Achille’s heel.” She continued.
“Not my heart, not my other weaknesses, no. You are the true weak point of me.”
And she was right. I changed her, and she changed me, in ways you rarely see these days. She gave me access to her most intimate thoughts and desires, and I gave her back something she always longed for: innocent smiles and desires, of a human child, a child that she once was. She always longed for bits and pieces of humanity, of pure human feelings, things that could keep her in balance.
She was still above me and without a warning, interrupting me while I was speaking, she leaned over me and struck. She dug deep inside my chest, with her fangs, she struck. Above my left nipple and to the right, above my heart. She bit so hard I swear I heard something cracking.
The pain was similar to the bite in the church months before. She was doing it on purpose. It hurt so bad I screamed my lungs out. It cut my breathing. It stabbed my heart like a thousand knives. This was revenge.
Nobody entered the room but I was sure the elders knew she’s with us again, and she was taking what was hers. Revenge.
Their face was pretty priceless when they saw me standing tall along her side when we left the room.
“Viktoria?” She said.
“Alive, barely.” Karl replied and led us down stairs.
Viktoria was in the same place we had left her, not bleeding anymore, missing an arm, conscious and in excruciating pain.
Regina approached her and spoke to her in Russian.
I don’t know what she said but she hugged her afterwards and then asked her in English, for us all to understand.
“Why did you do it my love? Why did you break my rules?”
“Envy my queen…” She barely replied.
“You have everyone submitting to your every wish…”
“And I’ve been lonely for centuries.”
“I need a pack because I can’t control the wolf within me no longer.”
Both me and Regina understood this, but also understood that Viktoria would be that much more dangerous with a pack of her own.
“Then you shall have it, but not like that. You will gain it through respect and devotion, not fear and strength.” And she was right again, because that was exactly the way Regina had her followers. Submitting out of respect, devotion and admiration. A pack that fears you is a pack that will attack you sooner or later.
“But right now, you need to recover.” I was keen on seeing that happen, and learned that Viktoria would indeed recover, but it would take months if not years. And until then, she needed to stay inside, protected, and powered down totally, mustering all her strength into her healing ability.
I had the perfect person in mind to do that. I knew it wasn’t fair, but I wanted a stronger connection between me, Viktoria and Blanche. So I called Blanche, told her all that happened, asked her to be Viktoria’s guardian for as long as she needs, and she accepted.
Blanche came in the days that followed, took Viktoria and went unseen. For months, Blanche was to do everything for her, she was to get Viktoria all the nutrition she needed to recover, every day.
I felt that this whole visit was a disaster. We had learned nothing, Moscow didn’t help and we were no closer to finding Regina’s maker.
But that was false.
The next day we left the mansion just as happy as we went in, but now with the elders having more respect and fear of me. I was a mere human, but Regina had shown them that I meant more than that. And I would have loved to tell them why, and how exactly I was connected with her, but that was not their business to know.
We had to find her maker. We had to find the black eyed children. We had to know what they want. We had to know what is their purpose. We had to know why was I given the necklace. We had to know so much, and Regina knew that only answering those questions, for me, would get me on her side, would get me to willingly accept – eternity with her.
I was not about to accept such thing, when we both knew, that Regina herself was the subject of such a deal, and now it was my turn. And she knew it also, she knew something was amiss. This was not normal, this was something ancient, this was something planned.
Aware of the tales of the old town of Sighisoara, she knew better than anyone else, that any ancient creature, that spans its plans over millenia, is to be feared of and watched against. The black eyed children had a plan, and we both feared in fulfilling their purpose, to an end that might not be to our liking.
The fact was, that Regina was drawn to me, just as her maker was drawn to her. And we both knew, that the necklace did that. My blood tasted different for her, it was a narcotic, and we both feared, that she once was a narcotic for someone else.
We both wore the necklace that saved our lives, we both wore it as a gift from the black eyed children, we both were helped but kept captive by the necklace. Only one thing could set us free – renouncing our humanity.
We didn’t understand how it worked, although we tried.
Regina was not one to be attracted or interested in magic, however we searched – we searched any explanation possible – and we did find it, but that only raised more questions.
What we knew about it up to that point was little. Physical characteristics told us that the platinum pendant itself was man-made, but the Jade inside is was a rock of Earth. Old as time itself.
We had also learned that the circle around the necklace represented the ouroboros, like a reader also noted. Yes, the ouroboros is an ancient symbol representing a dragon eating its own tail. It symbolizes ” the perpetual cyclic renewal of life and infinity, the concept of eternity and the eternal return, and represents the cycle of life, death and rebirth, leading to immortality, as in the phoenix.”
But the ouroboros can also represent “the idea of primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting before any beginning with such force or qualities it cannot be extinguished.”
All that is taken from Wikipedia of course. We had been told, the same things, along the same lines, from an older book which was given to Regina by an elder when she noticed him looking at the necklace. He recalled reading about the symbol in an old book of his, and also noted that it is strikingly familiar with the seal of Vlad Tepes, the seal of The Dragon Order.
I strongly advise you in reading more about the ouroboros online before stepping into judging my story.
What we didn’t know at the time would shake both of our strong beliefs against all that is supernatural.
We learned that it represented something else: energy.
We learned that the Jade did more than just look beautiful. It was more than a simple stone.
Since ancient times it has been known that certain stones and diamonds can resonate at certain frequencies, which occur naturally, if attuned properly and shaped accordingly. But that is for a later time of the story.
For now I’ll limit it to what we knew at the time.
We needed to find the maker and solve this mystery once and for all. It was now a quest not just for me, but for Regina herself in finding the story of how she came to be.
So we left the mansion the next day. The same as we arrived, together.
“I think it’s about time to tell me your plans.” I said.
“I would, if I had any. Right now I’m just closing leads one by one, until we find one that won’t close.” She replied.
“So we’re blind here. We’re just walking from door to door asking questions?” I asked.
“No, not really.”
And then we arrived at the airport.
“So where to now?” I said.
“We’re going to Sweden, to desecrate a tomb. Does that sound exciting enough for you little one?” I didn’t like her “little one” note, but it did sound exciting otherwise.
“Lars will receive us properly do not worry.” She added, when she saw my confusion. That didn’t calm me down, I didn’t exactly appreciate being around anyone else except her. They didn’t understand my relation with her and it just made things awkward, complicated and violent at times.
And there I was, side by side with a five hundred year old girl, riding a plane towards unknown lands, chasing stories and myths, in a time when others my age were falling love with Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, I was falling in love with the most shining star I knew.
We were two normal people, going in vacation in a normal way, towards a noble goal. Or so we thought.
The plane ticket once again read:
Le Mans (LME) France – Arlanda (ARN) Stockholm.
And as the plane took off and started shaking once again, I touched my necklace and looked at Regina.
She held my hand and smiled.
She was alive.
“Did you know that I could make this plane crash and walk away freely after?” She said.
I froze. What? I really hoped she was joking.
She was. Still playing.
As she saw my face she started laughing and then kissed me.
“You don’t know what you’re missing out on…” She whispered slowly in my ear as the plane smoothed out, those five seconds after the shaking of the take-off stops, those seconds when you feel you’re in the air.
I remember her exactly saying that, those were her exact, exact words. Because she was wrong. For once, she was wrong. I did know what I was missing out on, and I didn’t care.
I didn’t care for an endless existence, dictated by someone else. Not by her, not by her maker, but by the ones who started this whole reaction. The black eyed children – whether they were myth or real, I didn’t knew. I didn’t and I don’t believe in such non-sense. I refuse to, even when they are in front of my eyes.
The flight was short, a mere three hours, and by nightfall we were in the airport and sure enough Lars was waiting for us. How did he get here so fast, before us?
We took a separate car and for the first time I saw Regina driving.
I’m sure my face expressed a lot of things because Regina seemed amused by it.
“What? You didn’t think an old lady can drive?” Still playing, still joking. It blew my mind every time how such a creature could still have that joy and life coursing through her veins. After all the wars and cruelty she’s seen, and was a part of, she still had that innocent, twenty year old of age humanity in her. I was starting to think that it will never change, no matter what.
“I didn’t think nothing of it… but it is funny to see you do it.” I replied.
“You should see me mastering my horse then.” She said.
Now that would be a pretty picture I imagined. A picture that would be shown to be sooner than expected…