Just in case you missed it, here’s chapter 1
Eternal Bond By Rachel Rueben
Once home, Lester washed his hands, and began changing his clothes for the funeral. Looking in the mirror, he began fussing with his shirt. Frustrated, he pulled on the collar, tearing it. Angry, he grabbed his Bible and threw it at the mirror shattering it into a thousand pieces. Today was to be their wedding day instead, he was burying his betrothed.
When his servant appeared, he immediately began sweeping up the mess. Lester, however sat down at his desk in his now tattered shirt and began composing a letter. When he was done, he handed it to the servant boy, “Tis most urgent, thou musn’t tarry.”
Escorting the boy to the door, Lester watched as he disappeared over the hill. Leaning against the door post, he sighed, worrying about the response that would inevitably return.
Though he had lived a life of sacrifice and was the most loyal of soldiers, nothing guaranteed his request would be answered favorably. It also wouldn’t be long before he would learn what his 289 years of service meant. Sitting back down in front of the hearth, he rested his head in his palms in utter exhaustion. When he heard the cock crow, Lester lifted his head and remembered, he had to find that damn priest.
Elizabeth’s funeral and burial was simple, only a few people showed, because no one in town wanted contact with an infected corpse. Only her family, Mother Margery, and Lester were there to see her off. Wrapped in a simple burial cloth, they lowered her down into the cold and dark earth. Then Lester and her brother Richard began pushing the dirt pile onto the body until it was completely covered. When they finished, everyone went to the church to hold mass in her honor.
At the church door, an altar boy secretly passed a note to Lester which, he quickly slipped into his sleeve. When the priest and altar boys made their way down the aisle, Lester took a look at the note, and quickly slipped it back in his sleeve.
The service was conducted by a senile old priest who struggled to read the scriptures, making the already unpleasant service, even more unbearable. It took several people to help him find his place in the scriptures and remind him of Elizabeth’s name.
Relieved, when the final Amen was read, the mourners got up from their pews and began exiting the building as though it were on fire. As they were leaving, Lester excused himself in order to confess.
Once inside the confessional booth, a hooded monk greeted him, “The council will meet with thee regarding this most unusual request. Before the sun set, we shall convene at the tavern upon the hill.”
Relieved, Lester quietly thanked him and left the booth to light a candle.
Before sun set, Lester went to an abandoned building that was once a tavern and knocked rapidly four times. A man opened the door just a crack to peep out. Lester showed him his letter and stated his purpose. He was let inside, and led into an inner room where several benches were arranged in a square pattern. Within that square, was a single bench, where he was asked to sit.
Exactly five minutes later, several hooded figures filed in. As if the hoods weren’t enough, the room was barely lit, making it futile to even try and guess their identities. It was before this crowd of faceless men and women Lester would argue his case.
A man began the proceedings by asking, “Why should we consider this petition for the girl?”
Carefully Lester answered, “For generations I have served the fold with all fidelity and never burden the council once, even when it was my right to do so.”
“Thou arn’t the only one who hath sacrificed! Every one of us hath left kinsmen, friends and even lovers, to embrace the grave. Our affections for them made them no more suitable for the gift of immortality.” a female voice responded rather coldly.
Fearing he had lost them, Lester rebounded passionately, “There was a time when we too were destined to return unto dust, but someone intervened. We rose above our infirmities and from the very grave itself. The one I speak of is worthy of the gift and hath the virtue we so desperately lack.”
When he was done, one of the councilmen said, “We shall consider this most unusual request but promise thee naught.”
Lester was then dismissed while they convened.
Out in the hallway he paced, worrying if his pleas were enough.
In less than twenty minutes, a man opened the door and gestured for him.
Taking his spot before the council a voice said, “We allow thee this favour only because of thy service to the council.”
Bowing his head, Lester expressed his gratitude for the verdict.
Immediately a plan was hatched to steal Elizabeth’s body, and bring it to a safe place to begin preparations.
That night, Lester and three men went to the church graveyard in a potato wagon. While two men helped Lester quickly dig, the other served as a lookout. Looking over his shoulder, Lester saw the lookout staring up at the sky.
“Our enemies do not liveth among the clouds.” he said rather annoyed.
Stunned, the young man stammered, “Sorry, Milord.”
The others also stopped and looked up. Pointing, they whispered amongst themselves. Finally Lester looked up himself, and saw a strange sight. A bright star, shone in the west directly over the castle. It seemed like an omen of some sort.
“Tis the sword of judgment.” One of the men said in awe.
Shrugging it off, Lester continued to dig and the others soon followed.
As they brought the body above ground, they wrapped it in sack cloth, and put it into the wagon. Once onboard, they quickly went to a nearby castle to assemble. As the wagon approached, the drawbridge was quickly lowered and they all scurried inside.
Inside the castle, they were met by a portly middle aged man who showed them to the servant’s quarters.
In near darkness, they all cleaned up and changed their clothing for the upcoming ceremony.
When properly dressed, the man showed them to the reception area by lantern. There, a large party had assembled for the event. Keeping with the motif, most of their faces were covered by hoods. Members of the group took the body from them and led them into a chapel deep within the castle.
Surprised, Lester saw a chapel aglow like an early dawn with hundreds of candles surrounding the altar.
Placing the body down on a marble slab they began the ceremony.
Confused, Lester looked about him at what was supposed to be a simple ceremony. Not wanting to incur their wrath, he held his tongue.
Taking his place next to the body, Lester waited to play his part in the ceremony.
As he stood there, an elderly man appeared, assisted by two younger men, all dressed in monks clothing. Carrying a Bishop’s staff, he used it like a cane as he made his way down the aisle.
His appearance stunned Lester. He had never seen a vampire that old before. Immediately everyone stood in attention as though at a wedding. When he got to the altar, the onlookers sat down in unison.
With a gesture of the hand, the decrepit old man dismissed Lester, like a servant.
Thinking the old man had dementia, Lester started to explain, and was immediately silenced, “Boy, I’m not senile! Taketh yer place amongst the others!”
Perplex, that is exactly what Lester did, although, rather hesitantly.
Soon the master of ceremony began a fervent sermon, “In the beginning, our kind was venerated and rightly so. When our brethren Lilith, Kali, Osiris, and Camazotz, walked the Earth it trembled.
After the fallen ones failed to guard the garden, t’was our intervention that was their salvation. Our minds guided their hands as they subdued savage beasts and commandeth the earth to bear its fruit.
T’was with those very hands they rageth against us and covet our immortality. Now we are hunted by the very creatures that emerged from the dust beneath our feet!”
With that said, the elderly high priest traded his mantle with one of the young men who assisted him to the altar.
Curious, Lester sat at the edge of his seat completely lost in the ceremony.
Walking back over the pulpit, the old man stretched his arms above his head and cried, “Oh Morning Star, our eyes hath searched wearily for the sign of thy reckoning.
And tonight, our faithfulness hath been rewarded. Tonight, we lift this precious soul up to thee and beseech thee Oh Holy One to accept this offering.”
Looking over at the one of the young men, he nodded his head. Immediately, the young man began unwrapping the burial cloth revealing Elizabeth’s lily white corpse.
“After this, I shall no longer be with you, take care of the flock.” He commanded them.
Everyone in the room arose and responded, “Rest in blessed peace!”
Lester then watched in horror as the old man knelt down and bit Elizabeth. Leaping out of his seat, he tried to rush the altar, but was held back by several men in the crowd.
The priest looked towards the sky and said, “I can now sleep that dreamless sleep given to the faithful.”
“What manner of blasphemy is this?” Lester yelled, his voice echoing throughout the chapel.
Lester watched in revulsion as the old priest grabbed his chest, and began gasping for air. Within seconds, the priest fell with a loud thud onto the cold marble floor.
Still struggling with his captors, Lester screamed, “Tis heresy!”
Finally, feminine voice spoke up, “Fear not Lester, this ceremony had to be performed differently.” From among the crowd a blond haired woman appeared before him. She needed no introduction, it was Apollonia, a highly revered member of the fold.
While she spoke, the others began wrapping the old man in Elizabeth’s burial cloth and carried him away.
Dressed in red velvet robes, Apollonia went to the front of the chapel and took over the proceedings. That’s when the ceremony got back to normal and Lester began recognizing the rituals.
Since precious moments had been lost, there was an urgency to get the ceremony underway. In a full day’s time, the spirit would depart from the body and return to its origins.
With incantations they began calling unto Elizabeth’s spirit, and with prayer, they kept demons at bay. It took hours of repetition before they got any response.
First, a twitch then, full body movement. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief including, Lester.
When Elizabeth opened her brown eyes, Lester’s grin was the first thing she saw.
“Welcome back my love!” He simply said.
Confused by her surroundings, Elizabeth slowly sat up on the altar.
Looking around, she saw the candles, hooded figures and asked, “What manner of evil is going on here?”
With tears in his eyes Lester answered, “Thou hath returned unto me!”
When he reached out to touch her, Elizabeth screamed and jumped off the altar. Bare foot and still dressed in her burial gown, she ran past them out of the chapel doors, through the secret wall.
Stunned, to find herself in yet another chapel, she paused in utter confusion. Thinking she was in some awful nightmare, Elizabeth went yet again through the next set of chapel doors. This time, she was met with success, and made it to a corridor of the castle. However instead of relief, her eyes and skin were assaulted by the rays of the rising sun as she turned the corner.
Dropping to her knees in agony, Elizabeth covered her eyes with her hands. Turning away from the light, she found Lester right behind her.
Bantering on, he said, “It’s quite Biblical, our Lord himself rose from his grave!”
At this point, Elizabeth was hysterical.
Stuck between Lester and a winding staircase she yelled, “I won’t allow you sorcerers to cast your spells on me!”
Then in an act of insanity, she jumped off the staircase, three stories down, landing with a loud splat on the concrete floor.
Expecting this kind of response, Lester gingerly walked down the stairs. When he reached the bottom, he walked over to Elizabeth where she laid motionless, her eyes still.
He waited until she started blinking again before he continued, “We all go through this, one day, thou art mortal and the next day, thou art not!”
As Elizabeth tried to move, the sound of breaking bones could be heard as she attempted to return to a normal posture. Lester assisted her by snapping her neck back into place.
From then on, Elizabeth said nothing and just wore a dazed look on her face.
Bringing her back into the chapel, the others renamed her: Clara and began lavishing her with gifts. Bowing, one by one they presented her with perfume, gold and precious stones. Thinking this was a gesture of appreciation, Lester happily accepted them only to have his hand brushed away. Stunned, he watched as the others bowed before Elizabeth and bestowed upon her honor that even he didn’t have. He couldn’t wait until this whole bizarre thing was over and he and his new bride could leave this backwards place.
It wasn’t until later on that Lester was given instructions to take Clara to Thetford and begin anew there. Happily, he went back home to make preparations to leave Norwich.