Magda waited patiently or rather, emphatically with her fingers drumming against the table as she waited for her husband to do his husbandly duties and actually provide for her by hunting! Now that's not to say that she hadn't been smart and caught herself a fine stag to dine on hours before, quite simply because like most women she knew if she would have to wait for her husband….she would undoubtedly starve to death….or redeath. And it wasn't because he was a bad hunter like that young lad. Oh no, Yoine was lazy, stupid and had a wondering eye. The very definition of "husband".
That was why she made him hunt, to keep him busy.
You see, while the thrill and lust of being a newborn vampire had filled her with longings, she had still wanted to be an "honest woman" and made him marry her—or as far as vampires could wed before anything more could happen. And it was bliss, until the sex wore off- even in death the desire for sex fades quicker for women than men especially Yoine….unless they feed on human blood. Then Magda got headaches, frequently….then they were just stuck, married. Slowly starting to cringe at the very sound of each other's voice as timed passed.
And in he comes.
You would have thought that if Sarah was the "chosen mate" as she insisted she was, they shouldn't be living in an abandoned shack neighboring Transylvania's resident insane asylum. But here they were worse off than they were at the inn.
"Well?" Magda started.
Yoine grunted sitting on the wooden bench in the center of the shack to pull his soggy boots off of his tired feet. "Well what?" he responded manically.
Magda did her best to repress the urge to choke him with her bare hands not that it would have done much good.
"Where's dinner Yoine?!" the redhead demanded. Her husband put his hands up in defense as he slung the good sized hare on the table, already half drained and cold. "There! There you go, oy my poor feet!" he grabbed at the throbbing skin.
Magda gave the meal an examining look. "That's it?" she questioned, throwing a hand to gesture to the measly meal. "Out for hours and THIS is what you manage to bring home? And you couldn't even manage to wait and dine with me?"
"It was the best I could do!" he defended.
"You could do better if you didn't spend your time ogling farmers' daughter while they undress!" she snapped. Yoine realized that this perhaps was right but he was no longer ogling for breasts and blood along but maybe someone young enough to have not seen him get abused by his last wife and immediately after marriage follow in that example because they could. At times he was beginning to believe that Rebecca was the lesser of two evils… at least Rebecca had been stout and easier to get away from.
Now he had Magda until the end of time, and all he could do was pray that would come quickly.
"I caught a stag today-"
"Shut up you goat." He murmured under his breath.
"What did you say?!"
"YOU DON'T NEED TO GLOAT!"
Sarah could hear the arguing from a mile away and gave her gray-blue eyes a roll; Magda was an intelligent woman as far as Sarah had been concerned. They're relationship while they were living were not exactly kindred spirits bur rather like ships passing in the night. In Sarah, Magda at 31 had seen traces of the girl she had been; young, hopeful and sheltered. In Magda, at age 18 Sarah saw what she might become if she didn't do something, gipped and somehow still waiting for life to start, working for a man like her father of all people!
This had allotted a strange sort of giving and takings between the two since Magda had a key to Sarah's room and Sarah had shown her kindness to obtain such as privilege.
Lately, Sarah was seeing a different side to Magda as well as a different side to marriage. Marriage as an act of vengeance? That could serve as useful. As well as her father's dull brain. She would never admit it but as much as she loved her father, she always knew her dear mama could do better, so having Magda as a stepmother had nearly been a relief to leave her mother open to someone better.
On that same token; her father had lived by a doubled edged standard, that Sarah now saw in her whirlwind of undead teenaged emotions, the heart break of seeing her Count woo one trollop and rescue another, could also work to her advantage.
Her papa had taken no issue sullying his own marriage vows and bed, but at even the slightest ideal of the corruption of his daughter…well! That was a different story. That and a few well placed tears, and he would take action, or at least appeals to the nobleman's sense of honor.
She waited a moment more with deep breathes before bursting into the door and going, crying into her father's arms; interrupting a question of why he did not simply take victims from the asylum. Sarah berried her head into his chest, sobbing.
"Oh Papa, papa he has ill used me!" she started clutching her father's coat. "He has wronged me!"
Yoine pulled her away from him with a sickening feeling of dread at the tear stained faced of his baby and angel. "Who my little kitten? Who has done this thing?" he rubbed her face. It was Magda's turn to roll her eyes….Sarah, ever the actress.
"The Count!" she cried. "Ever since the ball he spends his nights…ravishing me relentlessly. With no plans of marriage." She falls to her knees. "Oh papa I implore you my honor, my reputation is at stake. I would have never lie with him or given my blood if not for false promises! Oh papa you must defend me you must!"
It was enough…enough to get the ball rolling. Her father fumed and blistered. Kissing her tears away and helping her back up, quick to take his angel at her word. 'This will not stand!" he roared, grabbing his boots again . "He will make an honest woman of you yet!"
Magda had to laugh, what a charade; a brilliant performance by the girl but a charade all the same. Sarah had never been bedded least of all by the Count, Magda could tell by seeing many other girls who had actually been done wrong in the way she was suggesting. And going to Yoine for help….
"I will see him at once!"
"And do what? Boarded him up in a room until he agrees to marry Sarah? Forget it! He'll eat you alive!" was Magda's jab. "It would take a convent to make an honest woman of that one!"
Despite the glares, Yione Chagal took off into the night on a mission, murmuring curses about women in general. Flying past the asylum where often the screams and ravings of the residing lunatics and madmen drifting down hauntingly, awfully.
But there had been one imprisoned man who did not scream or rave. The most insane and broken of them all. Broken into silence, broken into frailty. He had seen the vampiric father take off toward the moon through the bars of his cell and yearned for something almost unnamable…to be found….for something he had lost…for logic.
It was only logical that Rebecca Chagal go back into the inn grab a torch and more durable wrap to set off into the forest again. How hard could it be? It seemed that everyone else she had cared for had done it already. Besides, there was nothing else to loose; Sarah was gone, Brieanna was gone…but there was a chance, a chance that both girls were alive! She had seen Sarah's face! She swore she had seen Sarah's face! And on the other account if Brieanna had survived the burning by some miracle; the hell beast that had taken her did not look as if it wanted to hurt her; in fact, there had been something mournful in the eyes.
Perhaps one girl would lead to the other.
So Rebecca had armed herself with a cross, a make shift stake and a strand of garlic that had not yet been made into ale by the witch and set off into the cold darkness. Fearless. What thing would dare cross her in this determined state? Hell hath no fury like a woman! Better still, Hell hath no fury like a mother!
It somewhere in the woods where she came across the mongrel who had started this whole ugly business with the peaceful witch. Among the black trees whose limbs were reminiscent of horrible limbs, reaching out into the sky.
Orin was smiling. Rebecca posted herself behind a tree in the circular clearing and grimaced, feeling the weight of her make shift rolling-pin carved at the end into a point in both hands. Coming into her bed room, gagging her, having his goons hold a knife to her throat…one good crack to that skull of his, or perhaps two given its thickness.
He was laughing. Why was he laughing? Why did the red flames of the small orange campfire against the azure sky, make him look so…demonic? Rebecca then noticed that the flames had ben tinged with an additional hue of red and she saw the discarded shirt of the man…blood. It was covered in blood.
The innkeeper was about to make her move when there was a crack like a snap of a limb and then a blur of black zooming across her eyes, and the young woodsman was pinned by the neck in the grasp of a hideous claw. Fangs dripping venom inches away from the bearded-face.
"It was a mistake to go after the girl." The hell beast snarled before flinging the man a yard across the forest, slamming into a tree with an impact that had to at least do unspeakable damage to the spine before hitting the ground.
Orin yelped like a wounded animal before he rebounded, laughing again as the hell beast closed the distance with two beats of the ginormous black wings. "It was never the girl I was after, Your Excellency." Orin remarked staggering to his feet. "She was just a pawn in my little game, all be it a good one, to get to the prize." He paused. "I have to admit, I had wondered what I would have to do to get an audience with you – get you to show your true self to the people. who would have thought the burning of a witch…the burning of your mate."
The hell beast threw the man again with a back handed stroke and Rebecca winced this time…Orin's awful laugh becoming more and more like a howl. He threw out his arms triumphantly. "I honestly didn't think that the tart was a witch! But the fact that I killed that boy…and it turned out she was, made it all the more…believable. Your little green whore proved quite useful."
"Do not dare disgrace her memory!" he went to make another move but was cut short by a hard snapping and the sharp clamping down of several teeth into the black bicep of the hell beast sending it staggering backward. "Yeah… that would be a mistake." The woodcutter warned with a cocky twinge of the lips, looking at his dirty nails.
Rebecca suddenly heard the soften crunch of several paws in the snow, growling and snapping, wolves! A pack of grey-white wolves were closing in on the scene of Orin and the hell beast. It was clear to Rebecca now….Transylvania, not exactly the best place to raise a family. Settings for horror novels perhaps, but families and lone old ladies with rolling pins no.
"You see Graf Von Krolock me and my kind have a bone to pick with you and your kind. Too long to keep peace with the villagers you have fed upon the wolves. Killing us in great hordes, scores and scores over the centuries. WELL I SAY ENOUGH!"
…that would explain the bug up his ass… the fact that he had a tail.
The rest of the pack seemed to howl in approval. The hell beast, despite being out numbered lunged forth again as his enemy took his true form to jump out of the way. Other members of the pack taking to clawing and biting the creature in the leaders stead.
"Tisk, tisk. Oh no my friend a battle now would not serve either of us any good. You see, its almost dawn." Orin pointed to the glowing horizon with an arrogant knowledge that both of them would be rendered powerless at the first rays. The pack begun to disperse.
"Besides, I leave your death to the villagers. Unless you think you can continue leading a peaceful existence in that castle of yours after that display in the square…mmm mmm they fear too much what they don't understand and they certainly won't understand you! Good luck being hunted."
And with that, the werewolf made his exit running, baying and bounding along the mountain side, relishing the last traces of moonlight.
Rebecca watched the hell beast stand for a moment; perhaps as perplexed as she was, contemplating. What was it to do now? It seemed to give a longing look toward the spot where the sun would soon be, before shaking its mass head and taking off in the direction of The Castle Von Krolock.
As for the innkeeper there was only one thing for her to do…
And pray that it lead to one of the two girls.
"Come on Vatti." The viscount mused anxiously gripping the railing of the guest bedroom balcony where he had been stuck playing nurse maid to a comatose witch that had almost been witch-ala-crispy. But now the first rays of light were threatening to peak over the horizon and his father had been away for far too long and Herbert was beginning to worry. By any account he, himself would have to get to the crypt soon if he was going to have to conduct a search party the next night. Herbert bit his lip. He should have gone with him…
Herbert looked back at his charge, still out cold. He had spent most of the time checking for a pulse every five or so minutes…he abhorred her nails. Dirty and chipped, and all and all an eye sore to the room. He wasn't doing anything, she obviously wasn't doing anything and her hand to say the least was still. So he passed the time that way, careful not to spill nail-solution on the bed as to not have Koukol murder him, engaged in one-sided chit chat about gossip, and fashion and boy problems which; all and all had condensed into "Alfred problems". It had been nice doing someone else's nails and having someone listen even if said person had no choice. It was still bonding, right?
And the way he saw it, he had helped dress her in that sweet, gossamer empire-waist nightgown which was like dressing an octopus, seen her naked; a privilege he was sure his father would have rather partaken in were he not a gentleman. and therefore no subject was off limits now.
He gave a quick glimpse to the hall before a familiar voice called fatherly death threats up to the balcony about his daughter's so-called "honor". The young viscount wondering out farther to glance down his nose at the former innkeeper who was shouting something about crucifixes and sausages, tromping around the snow like a great buffoon.
"So, the little Prima Donna has resorted to this?" Herbert mused. "Impressive; tactless, but impressive."
This move in Herbert's mind had shown that Sarah had the gumption, or at least the theatrical skills to rival the not-so-great Italian soprano torturing audiences at the Paris Opera House, that La Carlotta woman he had heard about in passing. Now there was a spectacle he would pay good money to see; diva verses diva.
In the distance; the hunchback servant could be seen lighting the two torches outside of the Von Krolock vault as a last warning. "Oh Vatti, hurry…"
Herbert turned to wind his way through the castle and to check on his charge one last time before turning the task over to Koukol.
Bed? Check. Candles? Check. Witch?...
Oh God! He had only turned his back for a second and he hadn't gone THAT far! How could Vatti's little vixen get out of the room without him hearing? Oh yeah, witch!
He sincerely hoped that this one was smarter and more grateful then Sarah, to go back into the village after Vatti had nearly risked his life to rescue her.
"Kleine Hexe? You-whoo, kleine Hexe where are you?!" Herbert called and it echoed through the halls.
When he did find her, he had found the other thing he had planned on looking for. Vatti was home! he was going to scold Vatti for being late and ask him why in the world he had used the front door, but then stopped himself. The way they were looking at each other. He hadn't expected her to be alive… she hadn't expected to ever see him again. The gaze was so intense it was as if no one else were in the room, or that it even would matter if there was.
Every so often Herbert could glimpse just how old his father was in glimpses of frailty, of weakness that he normally did well to hide but Herbert could see it. His father often did not wish to hunt, or spur about the village and ravel in frivolity like Sarah and the other younglings, he had already done that. Now, he simply wished to be old the privilege that death wouldn't allow. He had a chair by the fire that was his favorite spot, where he often took the books that he had been too busy to read in life or the first excitement of afterlife, but so often Herbert would catch him not reading at all but staring at the armchair next to him, trying to mold another being from shadows, sometimes, even his father would place a book on the opposite chair and wait in hopes for the one who would never read it, reading together in blissful silence but a soft touching of hands across the armrest to indicate that someone was there beside him.
Or he would wonder the castle from room to empty room and just look inside and study what had always been there, again searching the shadows. He would often terry most at one room in particular; what had been Herbert's own nursery. That sight to Herbert had been the most heartbreaking of all. His father just standing in the middle of the nursery, reaching a decaying hand down into a cradle where a babe should be. he had wanted so desperately to be surrounded by children; Herbert, was only supposed to be the first of many Krolock infants to grace that crib. Scores of grandchildren surrounding his death bed. Not that Herbert's tastes would have allotted for grandchildren…
It wasn't age that made his father old, not the centuries that had passed, it was the loneliness that aged him so.
He had been expecting to lose this one too. But now that they were face to face; Herbert marked that fragility and unpreparedness racking his father's form. He was shaking. The girl walked towards him without stretched arms, slowly closing the space between them, a look of concern on her face at his torn sleeve.
His father took one step toward what he believed to be a vision and collapsed at the girl's feet much like an infant still learning to walk, planting a kiss to the hem of her gown overcome with unfathomable joy—she was alive.
Lightly, she asked cupping a hand under his chin, ever so tenderly lifting his heavenward. "Are ye that disappointed to see me?'
"Far from it. Far from it, mein Brieanna."
They lingered for a moment just so; a man knelt before his love, a woman gazing upon her rescuer. Completely in love with the sight of each other.
He then caught glimpse of his son and gave a nod to say that he was alright He managed being helped back up to his feet. "Come quickly, both of you; we haven't much time and I need to speak to both of you."
The girl had accompanied them to the crypt, Herbert took noticed that there had been no further touching between the two, no embrace, no kiss just a boring, respectable distance. Vatti…so by the book. So by the book that it seemed almost like a fear to touch more than decorum.
They lingered outside the crypt awhile for the girl to look at the names inscribed there "Graf Agustine J. Von Krolock" he wondered if the girl knew what his father's middle name was. it was a stupid thing to be curious about.
Herbert watched as the witch and his father sat upon the lid of the coffin side by side but facing each other as Brieanna had unhooked his sleeve and went about healing the puncture wounds in the wrist, making dead skin reappear where there had been black holes, no blood as usual.
"I knew that Orin was a right bayin bastard from the verra first time I met him." She remarked to his father's recount of the encounter. A billion thoughts were racing through her mind now.
"So what do we do Vatti?" Herbert had been resting up against his own coffin waiting for the hunchback servant to remove the lid per the bedtime ritual. This had been the very thing his father had been trying to avoid, beyond the wolves, a peasant uprising…above all, putting Herbert in danger. Herbert was and always had been first priority in The Count's sights. And he was willing to go to all measures, even drastic ones to protect.
Herbert had bared witness to that first hand by what had happened, three years ago. Alfred had been sparred due to "having such an exceptionally cute butt" but the elder man…. The Count had taken no expense to his punishment for holding a stake to his son; unfathomable length for torture both mental and physical. Even going as far as to pry into the old coot's mind to find something of equal value to threaten and destroy….well, he had found that equal. A child for a child.
Well here was that imbursement now gentle as a lamb before him, no sign of a death pursuit, and from what Herbert could see the girl was either blissfully tolerant, or completely unsuspecting.
"I should have just taken care of him when I had the chance!"
There went the first theory…
It was his father's turn to speak again. "It will do us no good to take the battle to them, it will give them too much of an advantage. We must postpone the ball and keep our feedings to a bare minimum, any additional killings would cause too much of a stir. Perhaps if things are quiet awhile the villagers will not act."
Herbert knew what this meant, total lockdown. He hated the thought. Herbert had not been as secluded as his father had wished to be. He had often frequented neighboring villages to partake in mortal activities such as gambling and parties, occasionally houses of ill-repute if a young man under the employment there could offer him quarters; though not since he had met the young university student had that activity enthralled him. Now there would be none of it for God only knows how long!
They had been on lockdown once before thanks to a certain French coquette named Nannette LeRouse and her ex Grande Armée lover Armand-Louie Paroe. Paroe's fiancé had ended up stranded at the castle and falling in love with its resident broody master who happened to return her affections at the time and surprise-surprise ending up missing the event that would have made her Mrs. Napoleon's page. And another surprise came when little Paroe gathered up some of his old comrades to storm the castle. It ended in tragedy of course, which was rather sad because Herbert rather liked Nannette far better than he had liked the Pastor's Daughter centuries before.
Koukol had come in and opened the coffin and Herbert lowered himself in thinking; there had to be away to distract his father so that he could at least go out and see Alfred. But how?
"I'm fearful sorry about all this." Brieanna said softly from where she stood as the Count stood above her in his crypt. "If I wouldna have stayed I wouldna have put you or your son in danger." She looked away. "Death and despair follow me wherever I tread."
The Count reached down a skeletal hand not quite touching the girl's cheek, but wanting too. "A fact to which you are my likeness." He assured. "We shall just have to face it together."
Herbert sat up slightly, they were going to kiss goodnight soon, right? After all Koukol was already snorting and motioning for the girl to get out for him to lock up the crypt.
"We shall speak more tomorrow."
"Aye,… we shall." She gave him a longing look, knowing well that he had a sort of advertiement to unnecessary displays of affection. "Goodnight"
-That's it?- Herbert tapped in to his father's mind -you're not going to kiss the girl? All that trouble and you're not going to claim your hero's kiss?—
-shush—was the rebuttal. He had no privacy from his son even in his mind –you read too many romance novels-
There was Herbert's answer, a brief game of matchmaker and his father would be distracted. With a brief gust of wind the mausoleum doors shut prematurely before the girl could exit much to the hunchback's displeasure on the other side.
Now they would just have to go with it…
"Come Brieanna, lay upon my breast." That's what he had said to her when he had summoned her to him in his mind. She was hesitant, staring at closed mausoleum doors. She could easily open them again, easily with a spell. She was so very tired still and shaken from the events past, she still had her own wounds to see to and her mind was racing… that's why he had called to her this way, so that his voice could somehow ease the seas of her mind and for no other reason….well, maybe to spare romantic teasing from his son. Out of respect he had never spoken to her telepathically before, but in this moment there was an urgency to sooth, to comfort, to be near, and she allowed for the invasion. She welcomed it.
"Come, lay with me."
She went to him then as she had wanted to, as she had always wanted to.
She had never liked confined spaces, it made her feel caged and at first there had been a battle of Claustrophobia when the stone lid had rolled over the box and yet still it was the least thing on her jumbled mind, all the more reason to allow him inside of it. It was the purest form of surrender a witch could give to another being, access to every corner of her mind and he used it sweetly, not in a complete hypnosis just enough to comb through her memories and surface the most pleasant ones to bring her a sense of peace.
In addition she projected them through her fingertips in a misty light providing a sort of illumination in the coffin. Her head lazily resting upon the all too silent chest. This was the first time they had ever been so near to each other. The shape, the warmth of her body, she laid above him on her side, brown tresses just under his chin…
Graf Von Krolock had expected her most pleasant memories to be shrouded childhood memories of her father, or perhaps he did his best to just avoid those memories to avoid guilt, or maybe it was her own doing, a slight resistance to see them herself. As if she had equal telepathic ability she answered him, sleepily almost clutching him lightly closer. "My childhood wasna a verra happy one." She shut her eyes then. She opened them again a focus on the mist and let out a small laugh as the scene combed moors in Scotland as green as emeralds and rich as velvet, birds singing and soaring in a champagne colored sky laced with golden clouds.
"My teenage years in Glocca Morra…now there was a bonnie time. Thats me there, at 16, the wee brunette to the far right."
"I see." He paused wrapping a ringlet about his finger watching, a small coven of aspiring witches crossing the moors sporting with each other, laughing. "My darling, you are such a beauty. Even then. You are likely to make me weep." He inhaled her scent of wildness and lavender, counting her heartbeats as they rung through his body like the toll of a bell. Like it was his own.
"Nay." She sighed. "Scotland. Scotland was the beauty likely to make ye weep, there isna a prettier place in the world, sept maybe here in your arms…"
She had almost forgotten that there had been a life before this, a happy one.