Rev. Jan's Fiction Extravaganza

Requiem for a Vampire: Chapter 1

Since I came into being, Death has been with me; always near, always waiting -- but not for me. It is for those who dare ally with me that She waits, with a watchful eye and a silent tongue, and a touch that lets suffering cease -- but not for me. I have gone by many names in my time, but only one has stayed: Vampire. It is the only one She knows me by; it is the only one I will keep.

Some say I am death: I cause it; I thrive on it; it is the very force that sustains my existence. But they are wrong. I merely bring Her to those who exist for me, and She frees them from my spell. It is a noble deed She does, to be sure; when they are in Her realm, they are safe from those like me, safe from those who rob them of Earth, and give them eternity. But they do not mind, when She is with them. For Her other guise is Life.

And I? I have met Her many times, in passing, but She won't come for me. Neither Death nor Life will give me reprieve; they will only watch, as I take away those they gave life. I do not wish to know what they think; I fear their thoughts more than their actions, their scorn for me more than what they would do with it. Any action would be release from the force that bids me to do what I do: they will not act. They cannot act.

Of this I am reminded every time another is gone, another who loved me, and whom I loved; that is my curse as much as athanasia, because I love them. All of them, and the lives they could have lived, and the ones they could have given. But they can't, because of the nature of what I return to them, what I take from them, my revenge on them for loving me. It is a love of death that they have, as do I, but only mine is unrequited. She loves them well, when She comes for them, as I watch Her take them from me, each one that I have taken first.

And oh! how many there are! For the years that I have loved them, they have died, and with them, another step is lost in the quest for my Requiescat. Once lost, I will never regain it; so it is with my being. Because, I was once as they were, and loved death as much, but the one who brought me love would not let me know Her. She begat my curse, my athanasia, and it was by her that my mortality was taken. It was not love, but hate that she shared with me, and so with hate did she create me.

But this is a mere prelude to my story, that began so long ago...


It was raining on the night I left for home, after staying a fortnight with my relations. They made their home -- their castle -- in the south of France, a paradise of warmth and fair weather, where it stormed only at night and then only when travellers were safe. When I departed, however, Nature did not take it upon herself to make my journey easy. Perhaps she knew then my destiny... or perhaps it was merely raining.

My young cousin and I had quarreled over something; its nature was quickly forgotten, but in my anger, I stormed from their hospitality like the rain that came from the heavens. My horse was barely rested, my carriage driver, drunk, and though I knew well the danger of my late parting, I would have it no other way -- royal tempers are all too often like that. So I woke my footman from the inebriated sleep that had him, and within the hour, I was gone.

It was autumn, and over summer and the floods of spring, the roads had fallen into disrepair, making our already hazardous journey more so. My retainer swore fervently at the coach driver at every bump, his tongue more limber than usual in this state, until I could no longer stand the incessant remarks, and made him stand outside where he ought to have been before. My carriage much quieter, I contented myself to watch the country outside.

It was in this way that I first saw her, lying at the side of the road, her dress splashed randomly with mud. I called to the driver to stop, for even in my anger I would not abandon such a waif. I stepped from the carriage into the chilling wetness that lay outside, and recovered the girl. Her face was pale even discounting the fever that had no doubt taken her, and her limbs shivered with the cold; but her heart still beat, and her breath still came. She moaned when I picked her up, a sound that barely carried in the wind -- but it was loud enough for me.

I took her into the warm silence of the carriage, and wrapped her in voluminous blankets until she no longer shook so, and I could see her face more clearly. She was not the child I had taken her for in the rain: her lips were full and red, her eyes rimmed with dark lashes that stirred even now.

"Don't try to speak yet, my girl," I said to her as she struggled to sit up. "I am the Lord's son, travelling home -- yes, even on a night such as this -- and I saw you on the road; it was out of compassion that I stopped, for I hate to see my people suffer." She smiled doubtfully, making me uncomfortably aware of what my other motive might have been, though I was not quite morally capable of carrying out such an act. I continued swiftly, to cover my embarrassment.

"How is it that you came to be on the road so late? If I may be so bold as to enquire, that is." The shrug of her thin shoulders told me it was, in fact, too bold, and so we sat in silence for a while, as the rain beat time on my carriage. Then she sighed, suddenly, almost with distain, and thrust her hands out to me, kneeling in front of me on the wooden floor, the blankets falling away from a form that was startlingly full.

"Thank you for your kindness, Messieur," she murmured, searching for my hands, which she gathered into her own. They were, not surprisingly, quite cold; I did not let go of them -- and not purely out of kindness. She deigned not to notice, and continued. "Without your help, I surely would have died, and though my soul is an insignificant one, may God thank you for rescuing me." The tone of her voice suggested that God do otherwise, I thought, but I said nothing about it.

"There really is no need for this, mademoiselle," I said, and gently lifted her onto the seat next to me. She smiled, revealing unspoiled, white teeth, a characteristic found not often then. She shivered again, as I handed her the blankets, and though she appeared to fall asleep, I noticed a self-satisfied, somewhat derisive look on her face. It was only when I lay down on the bench opposite her that I realized I didn't even know her name.

By the time some semblance of morning had been reached, the rain had stopped, though it was still quite overcast. The storm that had so assaulted us was moving towards the east, leaving in its wake a muddy wasteland of fallen trees and battered houses. The sun that now tried to escape its cloudy vestments, however, wasn't enough to keep the driver awake. He must have had a terrible night of it, I thought, as I woke him to take his place, and allow the horses to rest.

The girl was still asleep when I checked her, after persuading the carriage driver to rest -- no hard task, that. She had covered her face with the blankets, so that only her dark hair was free, and I could see her chest rise and fall with measured breaths. It wouldn't do to wake her, I knew; by her look the night before, she had probably not slept easily in a long time. Already, I could hear the driver's snores, and the horses' pawing hooves, so I took the driver's place and we drove again.

The roads were much the worse for wear, but that didn't seem to bother the animals. Even without much rest, they were making good time, and my home was in sight within that day. My father, being a lord by the virtue of his blood, had inherited a comfortable chateau, and multi-hued tapestries to cover its walls. It was barely a castle -- even our ancestors hadn't been rich -- but it was large enough for my taste.

It was only after the horses and carriage had been taken care of that I remembered my father was away with a delegation, and that I would be alone to run the household. There were, of course, all the servants I needed, but they would certainly not replace Lord Charles. And how was I to deal with the girl? The serving maids would have no end of rumors to explain her coming; I did not even know how long she would stay. However, she was now upstairs, in the guest hall; I went to ask her the questions that would surface.

She lay on the bed, still wrapped in the carriage blankets, with the windows covered and no candles lit. Before my eyes adjusted to the darkness, though, I heard her stir, and a bold voice asked, "Who is it?"

I cleared my throat, which had suddenly gone quite dry, and said, "It is I, Lord Charles' son, Raul. I have come to inquire of you why... well, what your circumstances were, so that I came upon you in the road..." I let my voice die, fearing that its uncertainty was all too evident -- perhaps it was my age, but there was something about this girl that made me feel as awkward as a lad.

Apparently I was not so insecure as to trouble her, for she answered. "I am Deirdre, my liege. Of my parentage I am uncertain; however, I was raised by Father Cerdic of London, and afterwards sent here to enter a convent." She smiled wickedly, showing again the perfect teeth. "I had never thought of myself as such a maid -- I still don't -- so I ran away. That, I assume, was when you found me."

"It probably was," I agreed, for the most part satisfied with her answer. However, there were things that certainly didn't ring true -- such as her accent. She sounded more Germanic than French, or even English, as her accent might have shown, allegedly having been brought up by an Englishman. And why send her here? As far as I knew, our convents were no better than theirs, and this Cerdic of hers ought to have had more loyalty to his own. But for now, I let it drop.

"Messieur?" she questioned, still watching me as I thought. I looked up and nodded, and she proceeded. "How long may I stay here? And where may I find you, should problems arise?" This had been my querie as well -- the first, at least.

"I must say, Deirdre, that I do not know. My father, who usually presides over the household, is away; I do not feel that it is in my jurisdiction to tell you. But you at least have until he returns, and likely afterwards; he is not an unkind man. As to the second --" I paused and smiled slightly -- "you merely have to ask, and I'm sure someone will tell you."

"Will you?"

"Of course. It is nearly midnight; I have nothing to keep me from retiring, so retire I shall." She raised her eyebrows; I added, softly, "My chamber is the one with the inlaid door." I could not be sure, but I think she smiled -- and not in the manner of those previous.

"Bon nuit," she said quietly, keeping my gaze.

"Mademoiselle," I said, bowing, and left the room. Yet I could still feel her eyes on me -- on all of me -- and when I retired, I could not sleep, for those eyes.

Half of eternity had passed before I heard her soundless step at the door, the turning of its lock, its barely-suppressed squeal as it was opened. I saw her face in the moonlight, pale as death, its contours sharper now that there was no sun to soften them. And her eyes, reflecting Selene's light, cast illusive rays of indigo into mine. I said nothing. She smiled; and the rays seemed to flicker red. She came to me silently, into the darkness of unlit shadows. I felt the slight pressure of her form beside me before I heard her speak.

"The door was inlaid with a cross," she said, "but that has never stopped me in the past." And before I could question her, I felt her hot breath on my neck, and the pinch of a bite; then there was nothing to ask. I sank into oblivion, after hearing her irrepressible moan, and mine in answer.

I awoke in darkness, some time later; Deirdre was gone -- at least from my chamber -- and I was cold. And this, because the window was bare: a chill wind seeped through, all the way to my bones. It would do no good to try to close it, I knew, as I could barely lift my head to see it; I certainly wouldn't be able to revive enough to move myself from the bed. "What have you done, little Deirdre?" I whispered, shaking with the cold and the anger. She had taken not just my blood, but my security... and, in a way, my love. I needed her, now, more than I needed myself, and that is a condition I would hesitate to press upon even an enemy.

I couldn't sleep, not without her; I cried silently until the haze of morning light touched my eyes, and then, at last, I was given reprieve. "Until the night," a voice intoned softly, seeming to come from within my own mind. I could only whisper my agreement, and then, at last, I could drown in the coma that was sleep.

Of course the servants worried, and, I am told, tried to awaken me later in the day -- but I never heard them. It was a sleep like death that I had fallen into, from which only Deirdre could release me. She would not. This I knew, as I passed slowly from that world into the darkness of night; again, I found her beside me. But this time, she hadn't come for blood. She had come for a promise.

"Raul," she said, the pale light glinting off of her dagger-sharp teeth. She gave my name the sound of horror with an inflection no other could, and laughed at seeing my dazed, excited eyes widen. "Your life is in my hands, you know, and I can do with you what I wish, as I have countless others." I nodded. This I knew well, as I knew her nature. "But I have decided to spare you death. Not I, nor any other, will be able to end your life. I give you eternity."

With her last words, she pressed her cold lips to my forehead, sending shivers down my back. She smiled. It was not a kind one; her mouth pronounced it almost as a sentence to death, though her words said it was not. "Raul," she said again, looking at me -- no, through me -- with her lupine eyes. "I give you Athanasia; I give you life eternal; I give you the power to command Death. You will know Her work well... but you will never know Her. Do you accept this? Or do I turn you over to Her as a victim?"

I could only accept; I was very young, and in love, though a kind of love of which few are ever at the mercy. I wanted life eternal more than the ability to end it, and the love of my kind more than that of Death. But had I known then... then, I might have been Her victim instead of Deirdre's. I was not.

I gave her my assent with a kiss, and a touch; she took them from me without hesitation, and let me have lips, a kiss sharp and painful which took more than a mortal can give. But I gave that, too; in return, she imparted immunity from death -- and the inability to live without it. And when it was over, she held my gaze scornfully, mocking my dying gasps, and allowed me no dignity. She had taken my life, given me unlife; taken my love, and given me hatred. And I took them, without a choice, without my pride, with only the knowledge that I would someday do the same as she, as coldly and cruelly as she had done it... but that I would love.

She did not leave me until dawn. We didn't speak -- not with our tongues -- and we didn't touch -- not with our bodies. But on that night, we had no need to. There was nothing to say, and no reason for contact. She stood by the window, alone, gazing out at the countryside with an empty look in her eyes, watching the moon as it fell slowly into the western horizon. I did not care to join her, nor did I feel I could. Standing next to her was Death, as pale and as silent as my Deirdre.

I had not noticed Her coming -- to be sure, what man ever sees Death before She takes him? -- but now I looked upon Her with eyes unafraid. She was clothed in blinding white which flowed about Her like an aura, never still. It was given severe contrast by the obscure darkness of Her hair, long and tapering as eternity. I watched Her as She ran its strands though delicate fingers -- until She turned to look at me.

There cannot be words to describe the agonizing depth of Her eyes, not when one is unable to join them. It is a gaze that sets the minds of so many free, brings to them release. To my kind, though, there is nothing in it but a wish, a desire for what we have ever lost, that which only She can give back and never will. Her eyes are the ones poets would die for -- and do. But these things I did not think as She held me; I could think only of that which I had lost. She would not let me forget. Nor Deirdre; she shivered, not from the cold, but from the torture of Death's proximity.

And then, She was gone. I cried out for Her, softly, knowing that the next time I saw Her, it would be to offer Her a soul, as Deirdre might have done that night. She stood now only with the dead support of the window's wood, and the cold stone of the wall, tears brought by the anguish of undeath blurring her features. This pain was barely beginning for me, but Deirdre -- how long had she existed like this, always knowing the next word before it was written, because it was inevitable? Oh yes, she brought her victims death, but what that brought her... that was so much worse!

I did not go to comfort her. I watched her as she sank to the floor, no longer strong, no longer unfeeling. In that moment she was more vulnerable than a child, more pitiful than on the night I found her. Because I thought I loved her, I did not help her, as she would not help me. She had known this agony would come, had accepted it, had certainly felt it before. It was up to her again to bear it, alone. I crossed the room to stand beside her, to look down at the ebbing tears -- and to ignore their cause.

But now the first promise of day showed through the window, its light altogether too symbolic of what I had lost. I turned away from the morning, and without words, called Deirdre to go with me. Of my kind I knew very little, but I knew enough to realize that the sun was now my enemy, the light of day my most unkind oppressor. I took her with me to the catacombes, which I had long known, beneath the castle. There lay the remains of generations of my family, dead hundreds of years; there also, I thought, should I lie, though my death was so recent.

There, among caskets replete with the bones of those who had gone before me, within the darkness that no sun ever touched, surrounded by what I knew to be my only future, there Deirdre and I stayed hidden. And it seemed that no sooner had we shut out the light my last reserves of life were gone, shut out as well; I fell into a dreamless, hopeless sleep that I knew would last until twilight.

When at last I awoke, Deirdre was crouched above me. Her black hair fell in waves down to me, barely concealing the scarlet glow of her eyes as they penetrated the darkness around us. Her dress had torn in so many places I felt sure that she would be cold -- until I remembered what she was, what we were. With that memory came also hunger, but it was so unlike what I had known during life I could only recognize it by its power.

Where the little need I had then was a mere annoyance, this was an overpowering thirst -- it tore at my very soul with its insistence. From this, I thought, there would be no escape.

"How soon you grasp this truth, my liege," Deirdre murmured, showing painful teeth with her smile. "And now do you also understand why Death must haunt us so? You, too, feel the intensity of this longing." She might have laughed at my frightened agreement, had she not felt the same; instead, she took my wrist and helped me to rise. Now, she told me, we must find the one who would be my first; though whoever I chose would be of my father's house, and of some importance. She did not plan to make it easy for me.

Up, out of the catacombes we climbed, closer with every step to the beginning of my new existence. I knew immediately when my first victim was reached; I could hear her heart pounding in my ears, could almost taste the warm, healing blood as it poured through me. Then I saw her face, cheeks bright and pink with its flow. Softly, smoothly, like a cat, I went to her; she saw me only when I laid my hands on her shoulders, and she turned to look, frightened, but hopeful.

I knew this girl; she had been one of my mother's ladies-in-waiting while she lived, and now aided my father in ways I dared only guess. But I knew of at least one of these manners, and that I did not appreciate. I would not mind taking her in this way.

"Raul," she whispered, smiling coquettishly. "We've been looking for you all day! Where have you been?" I did not answer, I looked into her eyes, which now brightened with lubricity. "Of course," she said, lowering her voice, "what matters now is where you will be."

I could hardly keep from smiling at this lethal game; I did respond. "I think you know, my dear, where that is." She lowered her eyelids in modesty that was ridiculously false, but took my hand and led me further up the stairs to her chamber. I alone could hear Deirdre's silent steps behind us; even those I ceased to hear as I closed the door. The girl reached to light a candle, but I stopped her. "No. I want you in the darkness," I said, and heard her low, sighing laugh in response.

She turned to me silently and removed my clothing, while I did the same; all the while, she pulled me slowly towards the bed. And of the two of us, only I knew that such furniture wouldn't be necessary until after I was through. I held her close to me, feeling her soft, human skin, and put my lips to her throat. She only moaned -- until my teeth, grown long and sharp like my lover's, pierced the vein below. Then she tried to scream... but all that escaped her lips was a gasp, as I took her blood and her life from her.

I cannot describe the sensation in human terms. But imagine that, for an instant, you could feel every vein and every artery in your body, and feel the blood rushing through them, nourishing them, filling them... It was something I had never felt before, that no mortal could ever experience; is there any wonder that I have done it so many times since then? It has become like an addiction -- but my very life depends on it...

When I had finished I let her limp body fall to the bed, her face now pale as mine, her hands as cold. I turned to leave -- but there was Lady Death in front of me, Her cold eyes fixed upon me. Then I realized what I had done, and with my realization came fear, as I watched Death stand over the girl, silently, without judgement. And then She faced me and I knew true pain, when Her eyes bore down on mine and made me feel the girl's dying agony -- for I had not been kind in my ecstasy. There could be no escape until She vanished, and left me to sink to the floor, alone, in anguish over what I had done, and would go on doing. Even when Deirdre entered, her face revealing only that she knew this pain, my tears and my shaking did not stop.

"Now you understand fully, Raul, you do," she murmured, coming to her knees beside me. "She made you understand, didn't she? I remember my first, when She came and looked at me afterwards, and wouldn't stop... But the one who created me gave me knowledge of that beforehand, of the aching need and the power of its fulfillment. I wanted you to know it for yourself, Raul, and I wanted you to... to suffer." She caught my face in her trembling hands and brought her lips to my forehead.

"Suffering is our life, my dearest," she whispered, her voice low and clear. "It will never cease, as we will not, ever. I wanted you to know it from the start; it hurts more to find that for yourself. Certainly, not all of life is like ours; those who may die live their lives for joy and happiness and that which is good -- if they know what is best. And when it is over, they find peace in death, as we never will..." The words caught in her throat, as though it pained her to say them. And now it was I who kissed her, and held her close while we shared the agony.

And what could I have done but accept it?


Sooner than I would have liked, my father returned, to a household preoccupied with a plague of deaths the like of which few have known. Only we two knew its cause, and we guarded it, as it were, with our lives. As for my father, he suspected nothing. To be sure, he looked at me strangely more than once when my hours were realized, when I took to retiring soon before sunrise. But he didn't understand it -- so he didn't question it. And he had none of the myths that one finds in other countries, either; nothing to explain the vampire and the deaths he caused -- not until Deirdre and I provided its foundations.

Then I discovered music. The Renaissance had found a better home for it in Italy, but even in my rural France it prospered. Evenings gave me the pleasure of minstrels in the Great Hall, for a while, and then I made some of them stay, for my pleasure and Deirdre's. They played viols, and the diminutive violin, and harpsichords; their music rang out long into the night while I pressed them with requests for newer sounds. They brought me Gypsy music, strange and passionate, Italian sonatas and concerti of shining brilliance, Eastern compositions that my country could not equal.

And then I knew, if I was to live forever, what better way to live it than with all of the multihued, multitoned instruments to guide me through it? I started with the harpsichord, easily mastered by hands that never shook and fingers oddly lengthened by my condition. Soon I had surpassed even the man who had taught me to play it; I would come back to it in time. There was the viol to be tried. It was held between the knees, and sometimes left my legs numb with the strain, but again, my hands gave me great aid with their new flexibility and strength.

The tiny violin was next, and oh, the joy I knew playing it was matched only by that of the cello, whose appearance later made me rejoice. But the violin! Such strength it could have! I was quickly rewarded in my lessons by the resonance of its sound, which seemed almost too great for its wooden frame; as my ability with it grew, so did my repetoire. Arcangelo Corelli had appeared in Italy, and from him came the most fanciful of melodies, which at first threatened to break either the strings or my fingers, but soon could be learned in an evening. There were delightful sonatas, little concertos for which I requisitioned the skills of the minstrels who occasionally joined us; but the piece in which I found the most joy was rooted in a time far older than this. Corelli and others had taken to writing variations on a theme known only as "La Folia;" melancholy and powerful even in its simplicity, it was, and I spent many nights myself playing with its possibilities.

With music I found joy unparalleled; it was with the living, however, that my life was found. Not a night passed that I did not feed, and though I quickly became adept at hiding my traces, the fatalities soon mounted to a number neither my father nor I could explain. And Deirdre also had to drink, though not as often. It would soon be impossible to find others in this house, she explained; we had depleted them to the point that all were suspicious, frightened; they had taken to barring their doors at night, decorating them with crosses and pungeant garlic blossoms.

This was a most unpleasant development, for it meant that Deirdre and I would soon have to leave, and find our victims elsewhere. If only that thirst could be denied, but it was too strong, and too demanding. Every night it called out to us, sending deliberate images of the rich darkness of blood, and the ecstasy we knew while we took it. And ecstasy it was indeed! It was the only pleasure we could have, in the world of the living; it throbbed and made us moan, and filled us with the heavy warmth of life, that which we could never realize without it.

So, one night, under cover of the darkness of the new moon, Deirdre and I left my father's house, taking with us only what could be carried: my violin, carefully clasped to my breast in its shining case, some gold coins that our victims had horded until their deaths, and clothing, as drab and anonymous as we would have to be. I could not bid my father adieu, much as I had wished to: his suspicions had been slow to arouse, but I did not wish to meet their wrath once I provided them with substance. He had lost others in his life; he could bear the loss of a son he scarcely knew.

We walked with the swiftness of the Undead, leading the horses for some miles until at last we reached the true country, and could ride without fear of recognition. Then we rode with silver speed, the cloudy darkness giving us an eerie, preternatural glow, reflections of the cold light dancing on the animals. When we passed farmhouses, burdened in the night by the weary minds of their occupants, dogs howled and shrieked after us, fear of death striking their instincts and their minds.

After hours that passed by with speeds greater even than our own, Deirdre bade me look to the east, where the sky was brightening with the promise of morning, daylight. Then we pushed the horses into a strenuous run, heard their pounding hooves strike the earth with relentless strength and mad, frenzied excitement. There was no escape for us from the cruel light of the sun; our mounts seemed to know it, and ran for us.

In scant minutes, we reached a dilapidated inn, and, shouting for the stablehands to tend to the animals, we scurried inside, missing by moments the glare of the morning sun. Though its keeper looked at us strangely, he honoured our request for a room, even at this time of day. God only knows what he thought we were up to -- but any mortal could no doubt guess.

To the lightless room we went, and, heedless of the mouldy straw and battered bedclothes, we sank into our deathly sleep. Only this day, unlike all the others, I dreamed.

I stood in the threshold of an arched doorway, my arms spread to touch its sides, my dark cloak vaguely billowing behind me. The room was dark but for a square of light. What it shone on was a bed, white and serene in the gentle illumination. I grinned, my dagger teeth flashing in its reflection. There would be no escape for the one who slept, I thought with a wicked smile, and advanced swiftly and silently towards her.

Sheets of white linen enfolded my prey, whose auburn hair was the only visible human feature. Even though she was covered, I could see her figure, lithe and slender, curled up like a child in her slumber. I knelt down on the bed next to her, to draw back the covers and expose her living body to me, and her blood that rushed through the veins. I sighed with excitement at her pure, pale skin, and then she turned to face me.

"Oh," she sighed softly, and her little hands reached for me, found my thighs, where they rested. My dream-consciousness, only slightly surprised, smiled again, lips drawn back to reveal the acute canines, and lifted the woman's form to them. She did not object, but melted into the unnatural embrace, pressing herself against me, and at last opened her eyes. They were the colour of blood, scarlet and warm and hungrier than mine, and she let them sink into my soul, allowed me to read them...

In them played memories of childhood and heady adolescence, and the first twinge of maturity, and her triumphant death -- and sensual midnight ressurection. She was one of my kind, then? But she could not be; her scent was of life, her hands warm and soft with human skin and sensations. Was this mockery of life truly a vampire?

"Yes," she whispered, touching her fingertips to my lips, then to my neck, where she felt the unsteady, erratic pulse of my undead heart. Then the translucent fingers were replaced by her mouth; she first kissed me gently, and then broke the skin. It was so like the moment of my transformation that I gasped, flooded by the potent, passionate memories -- but this was far from then as well. What Deirdre did out of hate, this woman did of love; it flowed between us like the blood itself.

When she had drained me almost to the point of no return, she at last ceased her suction, shuddering with the climactic release that this illusion of life had given her. And although I was gasping with exhaustion, I had enough strength to pull her down next to me and complete the circuit. From her veins, pulsing with the liquid flow of my blood, I took back what was mine -- now shared by us both -- and it was not long before we both lay in unspeakable pleasure together. This is the union we may enjoy, so much more powerful than that of the mortals, so much more intimate. For as they say, the blood is the life, and what is more intimate than a shared life?

It was with this sentiment that I awoke to see the dying light of the day, and the still-sleeping form of Deirdre beside me. She lay in such lifeless repose that another observer would have thought her dead; they would have been half right. With the ecstasy of my dream still so close, I could not refrain from allowing myself to know her as I knew the woman in the dream. I nuzzled her breast and then her throat, lying on top of her, my hand beneath her neck. And then I took her blood, almost warm in the chill twilight.

She moaned and awakened with this unfamiliar weight on her, with the sleepy realization of my theft. But she did not protest. When I lay shivering with the strange, intense heat of that blood inside me, she reversed it, shaking with warmth and pleasure.

Afterwards we lay for a moment in the darkness, hearing the feeble noise of peasants from downstairs, their loud, bawdy voices irritating -- but also marvelously human. "We've got to have some real blood," I murmured into her ear. "We won't last long on this kind of exchange, will we?" She nodded in answer, her thick hair brushing my face as she left me. I watched her cross the room, her movements as always inhumanly smooth and soundless and feline.

No one looked up when we entered the crowded, dismal tavern below; none of its patrons cared much for strangers, especially not wealthy ones, not in this age. A violonneux mumbled out musical apologies, never sure of his notes or his meter. I winced at a note too flat, clashing sharply with the next, and was tempted to break the fiddler's bow over his head -- but it would have been a disgrace to the instrument. I heard smatters of muttered conversations around me, but only one was of interest; it seemed that many people knew of His Lordship's trouble, with all the deaths, and those were being blamed on, what? A vampire?

Deirdre shrank back from the table as the man spit out the words, for the first time seeming afraid. She had lived with the peasants her whole life, but they were now a threat. What if they knew what to look for? But even as her sharp fingernails dug into my arm, the subject of their discussion changed, and she sighed with relief.

I caught her by the elbow, and led her out through the barely lit doorway. There is always enough light for a vampire, though; I saw the stablehand and bade him fetch our horses. They had been well-treated, thankfully, and were ready for another ride in darkness. Before we could go, however, I had some unpleasant business to take care of. I took the groom aside, as though to tip him -- and he gave me much more than I could ever have repaid. But I did not take his life! Though it hurt me terribly to let him go, I ceased my feeding before he died, and left him, unconscious, by the door.

Then Deirdre and I once more began our journey, to wherever the road would lead us, and wherever the blood would be.


We went to Paris. I doubt we could have kept away from it, really; what other city had as much to offer? And it offered a lot. More people than anyone could keep track of, for one thing, and their numbers would never be depleted. In the better quarters, night and day had no distinction; no one noticed us in the flood of humans that took to the streets after dark. And when our unearthly appetites were satisfied, there were theatres to visit, operas to see, music of all kinds to be found in abundance. In Paris, we could almost be human. Almost.

For even in the anonymity of darkness, where anything could happen -- and did -- we knew what we were. We would never be allowed to forget, not among humans; in the quietest moments of a symphony, in the pause of a soliloquy, in the heaven of lights along the Left Bank... in those silences, we would always hear the rushing, living blood that mortals offered us unawares. It called to us by virtue of its very existence, profaning the music, or the words, or the beauty, with its insistence. I hated it for what it made me do -- and loved it for what it made me feel.

Yet, the happiest years of my early life -- if one can call that life -- were spent there, pretending to be human among those who truly were, and would face Death only once. I loved them all, especially those I took; more, the ones I let live. For Deirdre was right; life is not the sentence, death is -- or at least for the living. I would let them -- most of them -- finish their lives with only a dream to scar them, a dream of an enfolding darkness that swallowed their blood and filled them with pleasure. How could they hate me for that?

But reading my words now, I find that I have deceived you. It sounds as though Deirdre was always with me; she was not. Not after we went to Paris. She gave me just fifteen years following my transformation, and to be sure, in those times, we were together always. But in Paris... we appeared together, in the first hours of twilight, a pair of beautiful wraiths; we left without farewells, clutching eagerly the human who would feed us. Perhaps we would meet before morning, perhaps not. It almost didn't matter.

But then, sometimes, it did. In Deirdre I had a lover and a soulmate and a mother, who could be all three without contradictions. But I doubt I was ever a son to her. I may have been amusing in those first years, innocent and unknowing to her eyes. In Paris, though, that changed, and so, in Paris, she left me.

We sat close in the balcony of the opera house, the racing, shivering notes of Vivaldi caressing our ears, my kisses caressing her skin. I stopped, moaning softly with the agonizing beauty of the passage made rapturous by my vampire senses. It was then that she chose to face me, to tear the music from me and to give me instead true agony.

"I must leave you, Raul," she said, her eyes as always cold and composed. "You know enough to live on your own, you knew before. You will find someone else to love, and perhaps to share eternity with. But, mon cher," -- she put her white fingers to my lips to silence me -- "you know, we never had love. We didn't even have life. Raul, find someone who can give you life and love, and with her, share eternity." I could say nothing. Here was the woman who had given me a substitute for death, who should have loved me. She was leaving, and with nothing but the memories of fifteen short years.

The music increased its tempo, violins flowing into a series of arpeggios that would never cease -- not in my mind. I heard it still as I stumbled from my seat and through the doorway, out into the chill night to be surrounded by living ones. I could not stay in there, with death, with the horrible hatred that had come like a weed into my garden. She betrayed me then, as surely as she had fifteen years previous, only with so much more cruelty!

"May Death forever curse you, Deirdre," I shouted, the wind carrying my voice nowhere. Only one person could hear me, I knew, and She had already carried out my curse.

I killed the first human stupid enough to cross my path, left the body cold and bloodless by the river. And I didn't stop for Death when She came; I was going home, to our apartment -- my apartment, now. I would sleep until the hunger came, and then I would kill again. Such was my life. I was as thoroughly cursed as Deirdre, and I hated myself more.


But I could not enjoy existence as I had with Deirdre, once she was truly gone. No more did I visit the opera, the theatre, the myriad little night places Paris was so famous for. I slept during the day, and soon after sunset every night, I left my rooms to feed. The hunger came with more power than ever before -- I had no one to share it with -- and so I killed many more than I could ever have imagined. When I saw Death, She greeted me with sad, perplexed eyes, but I told myself I didn't care. And I suppose I didn't.

I was more heartless in that time than I might ever have accused Deirdre of being; I doubt she ever took so many in a night. But oh, that first night, after she left me, I killed like a berserker, drinking my fill from the first, and then wandering the back alleys like the monster that I had become, until I found someone who might have passed for Deirdre. I killed her out of pure spite; what right had she to look like my creator? I did not look back when I left her; I knew what I would see with her.

Like some penny-opera villain I stalked the streets, attired in black velvet and wearing the sneer that perhaps only a vampire can manage. Sometimes I waited hours for my victims, whom I had selected oft-times the night before, rejoicing wearily in the vicious lengths of time, only to let the poor soul escape before I had him. The looks of horror that they assumed upon seeing my teeth were undeniably pathetic, and yet I longed to see them. I thrived on their excruciating deaths, the blood that ran hot and fast with their fear. I was the worst kind of parasite; I was the Vampire.

Until one night, at the very stroke of midnight, and the last stroke of my victim's heart... Then I turned and left the girl -- a girl she had been, only fourteen and already making her living on the street; dying had been mercy -- and saw the one from my dream so many years before. Her hands were outstretched to me, beckoning with their satin whiteness, but as I moved closer, already feeling the hunger again -- a different sort -- she stepped back.

Was she afraid? Of me, one of her own kind? But how could that be? And then I realized what a sight I was. My cloak writhed about me in the wind, black as coal in the winter night; my hands and my face were white still, and cold, and I could feel a streak of blood caressing my chin like an insect. "Oh," I moaned and raised my hand to wipe the still-warm blood away. But she wouldn't come any nearer. Her presence was torture, her proximity almost as painful as Death's. I wanted her as badly as I had in the dream -- and this was real.

"I cannot live without you," I whispered hoarsely, staring once again into her eyes. "I will always love you. Dreams are for loving, are they not?" She smiled, saying nothing, but pointed to the body that lay behind me, the limbs unnaturally askew. I could see nothing unusual about it -- I had become that accustomed to the odious deaths of my victims -- until I realized that someone was missing. Where was Lady Death? She had not come for this one.

"Where is Death," I mumbled, and then, louder, "Death, you must come for her! She will be nothing without it, without you." I stumbled towards the corpse, reaching with my frozen fingers for her pulse, for any sign of life. There was none. It was as though She had come without troubling me, and She never did that. I was to blame; I had to suffer. But I couldn't, without Her and Her gaze.

There was nothing I could do to stop the tears that came when I found the depth of my own callousness, nothing to stop myself from turning away and running, escaping from my nightmare murder -- but there was no escape. Lady Death had saved my retribution; now She twisted my very soul, as I knew I had twisted those of my victims. I fell to the snowy ground, on my knees and then on my back, writhing with the agony that I knew I deserved. I couldn't know how long it would last, I could do nothing but lie in the cold, feeling the hard streaks of pain clench my body.

When it was at last over, when the lightning left me, when the chilling sweat of torment more than physical was gone, then I lay in the snow. For a while I let myself revel in the absence of pain, the lightness my body had without it, and then I turned away from it all. Or, at least, as much as I could. I knew the desire would be back sooner ever than I would want, come nightfall; I knew I had to get shelter before sunrise, or I would die. Oddly enough, I didn't want to die. Just to rest, for as long as I could.

My legs were strong enough, infused with the blood of my victims, to carry me back home. It was with a sigh that I blew out my candle, and allowed myself to sleep, perchance to dream, as the sun shed its living light over those who could know it. I never would; I had seen my last sunrise when Deirdre came, and cloaked me forever in darkness. I could only remember the pale sky of morning; as I fell into my death-sleep, I could feel its force.


I awoke recalling the controlled violence of the Vivaldi concerto that I had known before I lost Deirdre. It took me from my sleep, left me staring around myself, wondering how I had let this happen. For the world -- my world -- seemed so much clearer now, sharp as the hunger; it made me think about what I had done. All those people, dead, relegated to Eternity by my whim; I had taken them without knowing who they were or what they could have done, or how much they deserved to live.

I couldn't bring them back -- but I could spare others as I ought to have spared the first. I couldn't take away their pain -- but I could allow others to know the ecstasy they should have known. And oh, I could start tonight!

I ignored the stabbing desire for blood as long as was inhumanly possible, and then, I took my leave forever of my home in Paris. Only my violin went with me, the symbol of what I should have been living for; we went first to see the last performance of that fateful concerto -- with as much music paper as such a piece needed. I had to have it near me, if not to remind myself, then at least to hear, played on my own instrument for my ears only.

Afterwards I followed a woman who had been there also -- alone -- to her home. I waited outside, a dark shade in the snow, until the lights went off, and then I became a dream. She would never know that the one who came to her that night had been real, and that he had seduced her with the power of the dead to give up her blood. But she was rewarded; I doubt she had ever had a more pleasant night than the one I gave her as the dream.

I left only a short while later, warm with blood and happiness, mad with the music that would not leave me, that I would not let go. It was that night that I began my requiem, so long overdue from my passing. I wonder, though; will it ever be finished?


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