Disclaimer: Tanz der Vampire and its characters belong to Roman Polanski, Jim Steinman and Michael Kunze.
Birthday-gift for Jade, aka fish-d on tumblr. Sorry it took so long for me to write it! I hope you'll enjoy reading this fic as much as I enjoyed writing it!
This story was beta-read by Hamstermoon. Many thanks to her !
When Alfred first saw the village – freezing and hurting from the cold and the heavy weight of Professor Abronsius leaning on him – he almost cried with relief.
He had feared he would wander in the night, with no chance of finding any warm shelter, and that he and Abronsius would freeze to death. So, when he found the village, he thought of it as a miracle from Heaven.
How wrong he had been.
He suspected nothing, at first. Certainly the villagers acted oddly from time to time, whispered a lot between them while watching Alfred and Abronsius with something akin to suspicion. They also hada strange fascination for garlic and were so secretive Abronsius suspected them of hiding something from them. A something he was sure to be a vampire.
Alfred thought little about this. The villagers might be odd, and secretive, but surely they were just not used seeing wanderers, and were afraid of the vampire who might exist nearby? After all, this sort of behaviour was understandable, and they welcomed Alfred and Abronsius and offered them food and shelter. Surely they weren't bad people!
They proved him wrong on the first night of their stay when the inn keeper, Chagal, and armed villagers ripped them from their beds in the middle of the night.
"Oh! What's going on, my good men?" Abronsius cried irritably.
"I'm sorry gentlemen," Chagal said gruffly. "It has been decided."
He looked at them from head to toes, then his eyes stopped on Alfred. He seemed to have come to a decision.
"Take him." Chagal said to two villagers, gesturing at Alfred. "He's young, surely he will like him better as a sacrifice than the old man."
Alfred looked at him incredulously. Sacrifice, the word rang loudly in Alfred's mind. Whatever Chagal was talking about, it wasn't good at all! He barely had time to react as he was quickly and roughly being grabbed by the arms by two villagers.
"Ah – Let me go!" Alfred cried out, struggling against his attackers.
"Now there!" Abronsius said, angrily. "Leave my assistant alone and explainthis nonsense to us!"
The other villagers, who stood beside Chagal, came to restrain him as he tried to come closer to Alfred. Agitated, he looked furiously at Chagal, as his wrists were being tied with a rope.
Chagal grimaced, his lips tightened until they were white. "We are cursed! Cursed to live in the territory of a blood-thirsty monster! He'll take one of us if we do nothing. We can't let that happen if we can prevent it!"
"So you're kidnapping travellers who came to rest in the village to sacrifice them." Abronsius deduced, with bitterness in his voice. "Not very welcoming of you, Sirs!"
"It's for the good of the village!" Chagal said, almost screaming the words.
"The good of the village," Abronsius repeated, almost spitting the words. "You should be ashamed of yourselves! Sacrifice the innocents to satisfy a foul beast! How primitive! How cruel!" Abronsius cried out, gesturing with anger.
"Don't put the blame on me! We are honest people, cursed to live in a vampire's territory. I have to enusure our security! If we don't provide him with a sacrifice, he'll take one of us! My hands are tied!"
"The only ones whose hands are tied are ours, Chagal!" Abronsius accused, holding his bound hands in front of him for emphasis.
"It's for the good of the village!" Chagal said again, stubbornly. "You put yourselves in our position! We have no choice!"
"There's always a choice! You don't have to do this!" Alfred tried, desperately.
"I'm sorry, lad. He's stronger than us." Then, to the other villagers: "Let us go, and take him with us." He gestured at Alfred.
Two villagers roughly took Alfred by the shoulders and began to walk away, toward the stairs. Abronsius tried to follow, however two other men caught him before he could reach Alfred, and pushed him away.
"Let me go, you brutes!" Abronsius cried. "Alfred! Alfred!"
"Professor!" Alfred called back, trying to look past his shoulder. "Professor!"
Abronsius being roughly handled by two villagers was the last he saw of him before the door was closed behind him.
"Please, you don't have to do this !" Alfred pleaded Chagal.
Chagal was holding him firmly on the shoulder, and wasn't looking at him. "I wish it wasn't this way boy, but we ought to protect ourselves. My beloved daughter… she's coming back from school in a few weeks… I don't want him to come and take her away. It has to be you."
"No, wait, wait! Please, surely there is a way!"
"There is none. Nothing else can satisfy him. Nothing!" Chagal's words were final.
Alfred never ceased his struggles when they left Chagal's inn, nor when they walked into the night and passed the first line of trees into the woods. He struggled when they walked into the woods and entered an old chapel which contained nothing but ruins and an altar made of stone.
He resisted when they laid him on the stone, as they wound a rope around his wrists and knotted the bindings onto the single hook that was sung into the stone. He flinched when they tied his wrists above his head.
They stepped back. "This is where we leave you, boy." Chagal hesitated, then he added: "We aren't bad people, you must understand that. We're doing it to protect ourselves. We're not proud of it, but we have to find a way to survive."
With that, he turned and walked away, followed by the two villagers.
Alfred wanted to call after him, to persuade him to free him but, deep down, he knew it was useless.
In a matter of seconds, Alfred was left alone in the darkness, to his fate.
Alfred couldn't say for sure how long he had been there. The roof above him made it impossible to glance up and the sky and watch the movements of the moon. Had he been there for ten minutes, twenty, thirty, an hour or more? He didn't know.
He heard a noise and his heart jumped in fear before realising it was a mouse running. He had never been afraid of the dark before, not even as a child. On the contrary, it was during the night he felt more relaxed and peaceful than during the day. During the day, he assisted Professor Abronsius and worked hard to achieve his goals; however, the night belonged to him and him alone. That was when he could rest and read, or glance up at the stars and dream.
However, Alfred was now beginning to fear the dark.
Maybe it wasn't the dark alone he feared, he reasoned. It was the fact he was tied up in an abandoned place, at the mercy of anybody. It was also the fact that, when alone, the darkness could do strange things to people's minds. Any noise could be heard, any shadow could be seen, and people would expect the worse and conjure monsters or malevolent spirits out of shadows, ready to torment their victim.
Alfred fought the hysteria rising inside of him by keeping his mind occupied by something else, something less scary. He couldn't think about Professor Abronsius, for he feared to guess what the villagers might have done to him. He couldn't think of beloved people he knew back home as he had nobody to remember him at home, nothing pleasant to think of, only the memories of endless hours spent in the library and everything he learnt at the university.
However, Alfred found he couldn't hold on these good memories, his fear taking the better of him. He had to think of something, anything! Or else, he would go mad!
Yes, he had to calm down; he was used to danger after all. But what happened to him was…No, he had to push that away and stop thinking about it! If he wanted to avoid it in the future, he had to leave this place! Taking a deep breath to regain all his composure, Alfred quickly assessed the situation: he was in an old chapel, some part of it were in ruins but it was still standing. Nothing was left here. No pews, no candlesticks, no crucifix. All religious objects had been removed. If this chapel once served as a place of worship, it hadn't been one in decades. There was nothing but the altar, where Alfred was laid. An altar with a hook, no doubt added by the villagers a long time ago to bind any unfortunate traveller they chose as a sacrifice to the vampire.
Glancing up at the knot on the hook above his head, Alfred tried to pull it down, hoping to break the knot or the hook. He only managed to hurt his wrists. Of course, it couldn't be that easy…
He had to try again! Surely he could free himself. The villagers and Chagal had been quite in hurry when they tied him up. No doubts they wanted to finish their task and leave as quickly as they came, in fear to meet the vampire who haunted the territory.
Maybe if Alfred tried enough, he could work to loose the rope and free his hands! His wrists were tied up together, but it wasn't too tight. He could still move his hands! Maybe by moving his hands and rubbing his wrists against the rope, he could loosen up the rope!
He began to work to loose the rope. It was a slow task with a slow progress, and the time seemed to trickle away fast, but it was still better than nothing. He could see and feel the bounds fraying, and the pulling was beginning to result in progress. Soon, he would be free! He just had to continue pulling the rope and –
He suddenly heard the sound of a twig branch breaking, as if someone had walked on it. Alfred immediately stopped his struggles, and strained his ears for any more sound. His eyes searched the entrance through the darkness, waiting to see if someone was going to appear.
He didn't know if there was someone, out there, and if that someone had good or bad intentions. Still, he tried to speak out:
"H – Hello. Is there someone here?"
Nobody answered him and, for a moment, Alfred thought he only imagined the previous sound. Then, another twig broke and he knew he definitely heard it! His heart beating faster than usual, he kept his eyes on the entrance, waiting to see what would come.
Slowly, from the darkness, a form stepped out and walked toward him.
Alfred expected some kind of monster.
He was tall and imposing, and the way he carried himself was sophisticated. He had long black hair falling on his shoulders. He was dressed more finely than anyone Alfred had ever seen in his life wearing a long cloak made of velvet. There was also authority and self-control about him. Many would have called him beautiful, yet there was something about him that screamed danger.
The form was human, the gleam in his eyes wasn't.
"Oh God," Alfred couldn't help but whimper.
The vampire smiled, revealing sharp teeth. "Not so much," he spoke, his baritone voice deep with a Romanian accent. "I prefer to go by the name of Count von Krolock."
He circled the altar slowly, taking his time to look at Alfred, and Alfred shivered at the attention.
Finally, the Count stopped, standing in front of him. "Who might you be, young man?" He quietly enquired.
Alfred gulped. "A – Alfred. My name is Alfred." his voice croaked.
"Alfred," The vampire repeated, rolling the sound of his name in his mouth, like he was testing it. "You are not like the sacrifices the village usually send me."
"What – what are the usual sacrifices?" Alfred couldn't help but ask. Internally, he cursed his curiosity. It was not the time and place to ask such questions, much less to the vampire he has been given to!
"Solitary travellers, unfortunate wanderers who lost their way." Krolock responded, stepping closer to Alfred. "Yet, as they are quite rare in this side of the country, they usually leave me the sick or the dying from the village."
Alfred's heart was beating faster into his chest than ever. He desperately wished he could flee, but he had nowhere to go and he could do nothing with his tied hands. As Krolock reached out to him with his long, clawed fingers, Alfred pressed himself against the altar. His heart skipped a beat when the vampire's long fingers slowly traced down his cheek. His skin was soft but cold, and it made the hair on the back of his neck stand up.
"Those silly villagers certainly have gained more taste. I haven't had a youth in centuries." The Count commented, his fingers gripping Alfred's chin to tilt his head back to get a better look at his face.
Alfred tried not to tremble under the cold powerful touch, and was relieved when the vampire released his hold on him.
"It – it is the villagers who feed you, then?" He shyly asked, wondering to himself why he wasn't dead yet and why he was speaking to the vampire. He thought it was because a part of him was curious. Professor Abronsius would have called it a morbid curiosity.
Krolock smiled, as if the question amused him. He quietly hummed. "Not always," He replied. "I usually prefer to seduce my victims before feeding from them. Blood willingly given tastes sweeter. Those willing victims are, however, quite hard to find and sometimes, I have to use this alternative to feed myself."
"W – what happened to them, the previous victims? Did you… did you kill them?"
Internally, Alfred knew it was a silly question. He fully expected the vampire to have killed his previous victims after feeding from them. However, he wanted to buy himself more time. He slightly pulled at his bonds, and felt the rope give a little. He stilled, his heart jumping into his chest, afraid Krolock would discover what Alfred was trying to do.
He had to keep talking with him, in the hopes to distract the vampire.
"I did," Krolock replied. "Such is my nature. In order for something to live, something must die. However, not all of the sacrifices stayed dead."
Not all of them stayed dead… It could only mean one thing...
"You mean you… turned them, into vampires?" Alfred asked.
"When I find them interesting enough, I turn them." Krolock nodded in a simple yet elegant way.
"What happened to the ones you turned?" Alfred whispered. He was almost scared to know the answer.
"You don't need to worry about them." Krolock assured him. "They don't matter right now."
"I – I wish to know!" Alfred insisted.
Krolock stared at him for a moment. "Some stayed, and some left never to return again. This is of little concern now." He finally replied. He leaned closer to Alfred, closing his eyes as he breathed him in and Alfred had the disturbing image of someone smelling their food to see if it was still fresh and good.
Krolock pulled away, and he was staring at Alfred again. "You are quite young," He said, echoing what he said earlier. "You are in your twenties, I suppose? A student, perhaps?"
"Why do you want to know?" Alfred asked. The powerful eyes on him made him nervous, it felt like Krolock could see through him.
"I would hate to see our conversation end so soon. I have just began to enjoy myself." Krolock's smile turned positively predatory.
Alfred wasn't enjoying himself, however he wasn't foolish enough to tell it to the vampire.
"I work at the university," Alfred confessed softly, not willing to reveal where he came from and what he was working on with Professor Abronsius. He broke the eye contact he had with the Count, afraid he would say more just by looking at him.
"Interesting," Krolock commented. "Are you here for your work, then? Or perhaps it is to fulfil a desire for the unknown?"
"I always wanted to see the world." Alfred replied, using a true statement instead of confessing he came with his mentor to study and find the very creature staring at him.
"I see. A curious youth, thirsty for knowledge and freedom."
Alfred looked at him, surprise in his eyes. How did he…
"I am quite good at reading people." Krolock smirked, answering Alfred's silent question.
"Do you often speak with your victims before killing them?" Alfred asked, with a bravery he didn't quite feel.
"Only when I find them interesting," Krolock replied, a strange gleam in his eyes.
"This doesn't comfort me in the least," Alfred confessed in a whisper, not quite sure if he spoke to himself or to Krolock. Something was amiss. Something was weird, in the way he said these words, and Alfred began to dread for something he couldn't quite name yet.
Krolock smiled wider, revealing sharp teeth. "It should, for I have chosen you."
"Chosen me… for what?" Alfred asked, though he dreaded the answer.
"To be part of my horde."
Alfred froze at his words, his heart stuttering at the implication of them. This was what he was dreading!
"No?" Krolock slowly repeated.
"I don't want this! I don't!"
Alfred used then all his strength and pulled at the rope. Under the weight, the rope gave away and his hands were free. With his foot, Alfred aimed at Krolock's chest and hit him as hard as he could. While it didn't seem to hurt the vampire, it surprised him enough so Alfred could take advantage of it and he ran away from the altar, from the vampire, to retreat into the woods.
The vampire's deep laughter echoed in the old chapel and followed Alfred as he ran into the darkness.
Alfred was running blindly, his heart beating fast in his chest. He couldn't believe his luck! He had highly doubted that he would actually manage to free himself and now he did, he was running on nothing but adrenaline and the need to survive.
Branches came out of nowhere to whip him on the face and his arms, and he slipped a few times while running on the snow, but Alfred kept running as fast as he could. He didn't quite know where he could hide or where he could go but the farthest he was from the vampire, the better it was!
His foot went down in a rabbit hole, and he landed heavily on his hands and knees, his face getting scratches from the roots of a tree that stood nearby. He rose up as quickly as he could and kept running. While he thanked God there was a full moon to provide some light, the fact everything looked the same into the woods at night made him nervous. Even more when he knew he was most probably being chased.
He felt a pain in his chest and slowed down to a complete stop. His hands on his knees, he took deep lungfuls of air to ease the pain and slow his heart rate. He strained his ears for any sound, ready to run again if he ever heard or saw the vampire.
He looked up at the sky, trying to find the North Star. It was quite a big star and the brightest, he remembered. All he had to do was to find it, and it would help him find his way out of the woods and, he hoped, out of danger.
As he was trying to locate the star, he heard the sound of footsteps on the snow, and of branches breaking. His heart jumped into his chest. Alfred didn't know if it was his imagination playing tricks or if he heard something – an animal or, worse, the Count – but he didn't want to wait to find out. He took a deep breath and started running again.
To his horror, he saw a shadow, bigger than his, darting to his left and keeping up with him. Panicked, Alfred turned to his right, in an effort to create more distance between him and the vampire.
However, he wasn't fast enough.
Very suddenly, Krolock grabbed him tight and held him close, brutally interrupting Alfred's running. His arms held Alfred firmly around the waist and the shoulders. Alfred tried to twist in his arms, but Krolock was holding him too tightly.
"It seems I have caught the mouse," Krolock smirked down at him, his teeth glinting in the darkness.
"Let me go! Let me go!" Alfred cried out, trying to fight the vampire's hold on him.
"You clever boy," Krolock murmured appreciatively. "You nearly managed to escape me."
Desperate, Alfred clenched his fist and raised it, aiming for Krolock's face as best as he could, but the vampire was prepared for the move, and stopped Alfred's fist with his hand.
"That's enough!" He said loudly. "The game is over, Alfred. I have won!"
Alfred let out a cry of despair, as he was being restrained by Krolock's powerful hold. It was difficult for him to move his arms, and all his worthless efforts tired him.
He froze when he felt a cold hand briefly stroked his cheek, and looked up. Krolock was glancing down at him.
"What are you doing – "
"No other sacrifice has done such a thing before," Krolock mused. "Most of them cried and begged me to let them go, promised anything in their possession for their lives. Very few merely accepted their fate and passively waited for death. But you, young Alfred, you talked to me, despite your evident fear, and freed yourself and ran away. I have to commend you, I never thought you would get this far."
"I'll take it as a compliment." Alfred nervously replied.
"Oh, I intended it to be." Krolock told him with a sly smile. "I do admire your courage. It only make me more confident in my choice to turn you."
Alfred's eyes widened, realising what Krolock intended to do now. He twisted in the Count's arms, trying to free himself once again, but the hands holding him were impossibly strong.
"No! I don't want this!"
"Well, I don't recall giving you a choice, didn't I, my silly, brave Alfred?"
He tilted Alfred's head to the side, to have a better access of his neck. The powerful hold on his neck hurt and Alfred winced at the pain. He shivered when he felt a cold finger slowly tracing down his neck.
"How our kind came to exist is a mystery," Krolock softly commented. "It seems each clan has their own origin myth. However, one thing in common is the sacrifice of the innocent, their blood willingly – or unwillingly – taken," Krolock murmured against his skin. "Birth always requires blood, after all."
Alfred made a panting noise. "I – I don't want to die," he confessed in a whisper, his fear taking the better of him.
To his surprise, Krolock gave him a small, gentle smile, and released his hold on his neck. "No one ever does and no one is ever prepared for it." There was a strange sorrow in his eyes. "There is nothing to be afraid of, young Alfred. It will be quick, and it will only hurt for a moment. You will be strong. As strong as myself in time and, through my poison, you shall be free."
His hand circled around the back of Alfred's neck, his touch rough and possessive. Alfred only saw a brief flash of sharp, glistering fangs before they sank into his throat, and Alfred felt as thought he would pass out with terror and pain. His hands tightly gripped the Count's cloak as the latter drew blood until the world world was hazy in Alfred's vision and he could see no more of the stars above him.
He didn't know how long it was until he pulled out his fangs from his throat, but when he did, it felt like deliverance for Alfred. Krolock turned away from his neck to look at him, and Alfred saw blood dripping from his mouth, and it terrified him to know it was his.
He tried to stand on his own, but found himself weaker than he was before and used all the strength he still had not to fall down to the ground. His hands grabbed the first thing he found to prevent himself from collapsing, the Count's cloak.
The Count was holding him by the waist with one hand. With the other, he stroked the marks on his neck with a satisfied smile. Alfred watched him as Krolock grabbed his arm and ran clawed fingers on his wrist. The feel of a sharpened nail on his skin made Alfred shiver.
"The pulse is weakening…," Krolock said softly, as if to himself. Then, his hand moved from his wrist to his face and stroked his forehead. A brief moment of unexpected tenderness Alfred couldn't help but enjoy, after the harsh attack on his throat. "The skin is beginning to get white..."
His eyes then caught Alfred's. "You are very close to death, my friend. I expect this is the last night you see anything as a human." He revealed.
Alfred suspected as much, he guessed it right from the moment Krolock confessed he found him to be interesting. Still, it didn't stop his heart from beating with fear with all the strength it still had.
He wanted to ask him what would happen next, what he was going to do with him. As he tried to speak, Krolock placed a finger on his lips. "You are weak Alfred. It is better you try not to speak or move unnecessary."
He slightly bend his knees and put a hand underneath Alfred's knees to take him in his arms. Alfred was so surprised he didn't even think about struggling. In fact, he found himself, quite unexpectedly, putting his head against the Count's shoulder, and he relaxed. Right now, despite the dangerous situation he was in, he wanted nothing more than to sleep.
Alfred should be worried, he knew that. But he was so very tired.
Once Alfred was secured in his arms, Krolock began to walk away. Despite his previous warning, Alfred spoke, in a soft whisper, curiosity taking the better of him:
"Where… are you taking me?"
If Krolock was displeased he spoke, he didn't show it.
"In my castle, where you will rest. And tomorrow… tomorrow your new life will begin."
His new life, as an undead. Nosferatu, the living dead. Cursed to live forever and to feed from the livings. The prospect of it scared Alfred. He wasn't ready for this and knew he never would be. He wanted to cry out his despair. He wanted to struggle and ran away, far away from the vampire, even if he knew he was too tired to do so. He didn't want to end up like this.
Krolock seemed to notice the despair ragging inside of him, for the expression on his face became unexpectedly softer, and he brushed some hair away from his face.
"Do not be afraid Alfred. At my side, you will be a prince and the world will be ours."
As he walked into the night, Alfred released his hold on consciousness and slipped into the darkness, and he thought no more.
Movie!Sarah wasn't always locked up in her room, she studied in a school before coming back home, and this explains Sarah's absence in my fic.
In my head, the former sacrifices Krolock turned might be some of the vampires living in the Castle's cemetery. You're free to imagine something else, though!
Thanks for reading, feel free to tell me what you thought about it, I would love to hear your thoughts about it :)