For those of you who haven’t been following along here are the links to the previous chapters:
Eternal Bond By Rachel Rueben
The first order of business for Elizabeth was a well needed bath. She had been buried for almost a day and smelled of illness and death. Three young women were summoned, all around her age, who seemed very excited to see her. Like ladies in waiting, their purpose was to tend to Elizabeth.
Leading her through the castle, they skipped about in their bright, colored gowns whispering and giggling amongst themselves. Suddenly they stopped in front of a room that glowed with the morning light.
Once inside, Elizabeth found herself in a room shrouded by steam. Piercing through the fog was a beam of light that illuminated a small concrete pool in the middle of the room. Adorned with rose petals, it was extremely lavish, but she dared not complain. Her baths were usually in a small, cramped, wooden barrel and the water was rarely warm.
The women began helping her out of her fifthly nightgown and into the bath. The hot water nourished to her frozen joints and before long, Elizabeth could feel her feet and wiggled her toes freely. The women began soaping up her hair with a strong smelling soap to kill any critter that had taken residence in her hair. Next, they poured rose oil onto her hair to replace the moisture that was stripped, and cover the fragrance of the awful smelling soap. Then it was on to her body, Elizabeth was soaped up thoroughly and the dirt on her skin was scrapped. She was then escorted out of the tub, and rubbed with rose oil.
They presented to her a new pink gown with a golden kirtle. Decorated with ribbons and trimmed with Bobbin lace, it was the nicest thing Elizabeth had ever worn. They began pinning up her red hair and covered it in a gold French hood that matched the gown. When they were all done, she was completely transformed, looking like a member of nobility.
Upon seeing her reflection, Elizabeth politely, did her best to bargain for clothes that were more appropriate for someone of her station. Fearing scornful looks from the others from her class, she feared accusations of snobbery. Ignoring her, the women chattered like little girls decorating their new dolly. When they were all done, they admired their work despite, Elizabeth’s disapproval.
The merry entourage then led Elizabeth down the twisting and winding corridors to her new bed chamber. As they got deeper into the castle, the darker and damper it got. Suddenly, the women stopped in front of a large wooden door.
As one of them pulled out a large key, she passed it along to another, who fumbled with the lock until, it finally opened. When the heavy door swung open it was to another world. The chamber was a beautiful sanctuary filled with sunlight and warmth. Fit for a queen, with its delicate draperies and beautifully carved furniture, the place was a contrast to the rest of the castle.
Gasping Elizabeth said, “This cannot be mine!”
Smiling, they grabbed her hand, pulling her inside. She was seated at a small table in the middle of the room near a huge, roaring fireplace. They presented her to a private feast accompanied with something called bloodwine. Asking what it was, they explained it was blood that was fermented for storage. Disgusted, Elizabeth refused it, even when they insisted, “I am no vampire!” she said in total denial. Confused, by the reaction, it caused visible tension, and even more whispering.
Taking charge, one of the young women departed the room to seek advice on the matter. She went straight to the woman who was in charge of the rebirth ceremony.
Upon hearing their dilemma, the elder woman angrily growled, “Put it in her food if thou must Sapphira!”
Immediately, the raven haired woman left to do as she was instructed.
Upon returning to the chamber, Sapphira waited for an opportunity to forcibly feed this new vampirling. Her attempts to pour the bloodwine on Elizabeth’s plate were blocked several times, because Elizabeth wouldn’t take her eyes off the table. Trying to get help from one of the others also, proved unsuccessful. Desperate, Sapphira seized a bowl of stew and took it, pretending to refill it. While the others distracted Elizabeth, Sapphira quickly poured in the bloodwine. Carefully, she put the bowl right in front of Elizabeth.
Offering it, she remarked, “Tis most important thou eatest after a black death.”
Suddenly, the women burst into laughter confusing Elizabeth. Ignoring these silly women, she ate the stew in front of them. Watching attentively, they were well pleased with the result of their deception. Soon enough, they were back to laughing and smiling as before. While, Elizabeth remained blissfully unaware of the step she had just taken.
When Elizabeth was done, she was taken to be presented to the elder in charge of her rebirth ceremony.
Upon seeing her, the woman smiled and remarked, “Good work!”
The merry women all bowed and exited the room in a hurry.
Circling Elizabeth the woman struck up a conversation, “They say ye hath difficulties with thyne new nature!”
Speaking her mind, Elizabeth answered, “I ought be with the saints in glory instead, I roam the Earth like a spirit, tis an abomination.”
Finding her insolence enraging, the woman warned, “Careful as to whom ye cross Clara.”
“My name is Elizabeth!” She snapped.
Approaching her slowly the woman said, “Alright Elizabeth, centuries ago, I was a wife and mother but was called to a higher fate. Given the power over death, no more would I fear it taking me, or my children in the night. Instead, I would lord over it! Thou hath been called to do the same child!”
“I shan’t dine on the blood of wretched souls!” Eliazbeth scoffed.
The woman arrogantly replied, “Thou hath already partaken.”
Then with the gesture of her hand, the woman dismissed Elizabeth.
When she left the room, those silly women awaited her in the hall.
Outraged, one of them said, “Art thou mad speaking harshly to an elder such as Apollonia?”
Unconcerned with their fear of a woman that she regarded no more than a witch, she responded, “I have no fear of any devil’s consort!”
They all gasped, and looked at each other.
Then one of them exclaimed, “Thou doth not act like the de…” and before she could finish, a hand quickly covered her mouth.
Sapphira gave the girl an angry look then, calmly said, “Thou must be tutored by Lord Harrison. We mustn’t tarry!”
In the next four weeks (Clara), was schooled on the ABC’s of Vampirism by one Lord Harrison, a respected diplomat in the king’s court. Dressed in a dark silken jacket, with a matching cap, he instructed her on the nuances of Vampirism.
First, he warned her the Inquisition was alive and well and they had many interesting ideas on how to smite a Vampire. He even went on to reveal that that several members of the fold served on The Council of The Holy Inquisition.
“Some of us have gone on to become Popes.” He said with a chuckle.
This troubled Clara deeply, and she began praying for her soul.
After the orientation, Lord Harrison began his first lesson: Debunking myths and unwashing her brain of mortal nonsense. He had to teach her that she did indeed have a soul, and also, a reflection. Holding an ivory mirror to her face, he watched as she was startled by the sight of her own image.
“Even in death one must mind their appearance.” He said stroking his beard.
Later on, Clara was instructed on the fine art of choosing a victim. She was taught who was suitable to feed upon and who was not.
Instructing her to stay away from the sick and feeble he warned, “The blood of a sick mortal is riddle with parasites. Those whom haven’t headed, end up fasting for days just to cleanse their bodies.”
Finally, he moved on proper socialization, where Clara was taught the dangers of trying to mingle with the mortals too frequently. He considered it an unequal yoking of two beings, likening it to mortals and their pets.
“Animals are meant to be enjoyed, but they are not adequate companions.” He declared with conviction.
For weeks, Clara did her best to wake herself up from this nightmare. She found it unacceptable that this was now her fate.
So she asked, “How doth one smite a Vampire?”
Laughing he answered, “Such mysteries art not for thee to know.” Seeing she wasn’t satisfied with the answer, he said, “The loneliness that cometh with immortality doth not last ever. It shall get better.”
Not comforted at all, Clara sighed. She knew he was lying to make her feel better.
On the final day of her lessons with Lord Harrison, something odd happened.
As Clara was about to leave the room for the final time, Lord Harrison hugged her and wept “The journey thou taketh will be wrought with peril. Ye goest among vipers and wolves. God bless ye child!” he warned her.
Stunned, she stood there confused and when the ladies in waiting showed up to fetch her, their mood was somber as well.
After selling his home and dismissing his servants, Lester returned to claim his bride. He was given the names of several contacts in Thetford. There, they would be given brand new lives. He couldn’t have been more overjoyed.
As they got into a carriage, the driver and his apprentice began securing their luggage. It wasn’t easy, as some of the trunks were filled with gifts given by the fold and weighed a ton.
While the carriage pulled off, Lester began dribbling on about his plans. Like a school boy, he smiled and laughed while Clara just sat there unresponsive, wondering when this nightmare would end.
As the horses clopped away along the cobblestone, Clara knew they were still on a paved road, and when they became muffled, she figured they were in the country. It was the only way she could tell, since the window was covered with a black curtain.
After a few hours, all the swaying to and fro began making Clara nauseated. Clutching her skirts, she white knuckled her way through the trip.
Being undead was not like she had imagined, the stories of shape-shifting and devil cavorting were far from what she was experiencing. The vampires she had met so far, seemed almost, normal. It was unholy nonetheless. Fully aware of the wiles of the devil, Clara understood it was imperative, to break free before she succumbed to evil urges.
After almost a day of swaying in a carriage, they got to Thetford. There, Clara made her demands known.
Laughing at her, he told her, “Stop speaking foolishness, you’ve only been different for less than a month!”
Rather mindful of the people around them, he tipped his hat to several young ladies that passed by. Ignoring her lack of gratitude, he went to a nearby inn to rent a room for the night.
Following behind him, she continued to badger him, “Who’s in charge of undoing this curse!”
Looking around, he said through gritted teeth, “Thy gift was decided by people who can not be bothered by a silly girl.”
Lester approached the innkeeper and requested a room for he, and his bride.
Clara gasped and exclaimed, “We were never married!”
Grabbing her arm, he explained to the innkeeper, “She’s tired from our travels.”
Nodding his head in understanding, he showed them to their room. Lester held on to Clara as they went down the corridor.
At the door, the innkeeper handed Lester the keys and whispered to him, “Keep her away from my customers!”
Lester nodded his head in agreement. When he closed the door, he yelled at her, “As far as anyone knows, you belong to me!”
Not impressed by his theatrics, she replied, “I never belonged to anyone especially, not you!”
He snorted and yelled, “It was only a matter of time before your father sold you like a worthless ass!”
Running his hands over his face, he tried to compose himself. He was tired and hadn’t had any slept in days. So he started unpacking and began settling in for the night.
What Lester didn’t understand was that the argument was far from over.
“No matter what you say, I’m going to find some way out of this unholy bondage even, if I have to get the Pope himself!” Clara yelled.
This set off laughter, “What will your Pope do? He doesn’t even understand what you are!” He said mockingly.
That statement confirmed just how much danger her immortal soul was in. Clara saw escape as her only option. So while Lester cleaned up and got himself ready for bed, she began plotting her flight.
Flopping down in a chair, Clara figured she could go back to that castle and ask those nice Vampires to let her out of her contract with the devil. It seemed sensible to her childish mind after all, how could things get any worse?
When Lester came out of the communal bathroom in the hallway, he locked the bedroom door behind him. He began getting ready for bed though the sun hadn’t set.
After, drawing the curtains in the room, he began taking off his pants. Leaving only his shirt on, he slipped under the covers and signaled for Clara to join him. Disgusted by his behavior, she remained in her chair. Smiling, he blew out the last candle and went to sleep.
For almost two hours Clara sat in total darkness before making her move. First, she paced the room to make sure Lester was really asleep. When he didn’t respond, she grabbed the key on the night stand and crept to the door. Quietly, she inserted the key and turned it to the right, when it clicked, she carefully twisted the knob, then slipped out of the room.
Once in the hallway, she snuck towards the entrance of the building. To her surprise, Clara found herself in the dining hall during its peak hour. Weaving her way amongst the customers, she did her best to look inconspicuous. Inching closer and closer, to the front door, she smiled and nodded, just like she belonged there. Once outside, she took a deep breath and smiled at her own cleverness.
Taking the only road out of town, Clara went as quickly as she could. Her nervousness and glee made her heart race as she briskly walked out of town and out of Lester’s life.
There was only a small glow of light left from the sun, putting the landscape in shadows. Soon, the only thing illuminating her path would be moonlight, and she cursed herself for not bringing a lantern. Only ten minutes into her journey, the cobblestone road ended.
Realizing she had reached the city limits, she continued on the dirt road straight into the countryside. This was a harrowing journey for someone who had never left Norwich in her whole life. She remembered all the stories told to her about witches and thieves who would victimize night travelers. Nonetheless, breaking this hex was more important than anything, so she pressed onward into the dark countryside.
It wasn’t long before everything was covered by a blanket of thick darkness. In near blindness, Clara struggled to keep herself on the road. It took almost an hour before she gained confidence and suddenly the night didn’t seem so terrifying. Just as Clara was starting to feel good, she heard rustling in the grass just next to the road.
Stopping in her tracks, she heard it again. Not knowing what to do, she stood there completely still hoping it would just go away. That’s when she heard the sound of growling directly next to her. It was a wolf that and it had been stalking her for a distance.
In sheer terror Clara bolted, only further convincing the wolf that she was prey. Running, she screamed as loud as she could before realizing it was no use. Trying to wear her down, the wolf casually galloped behind her. Just when it seemed Clara was doomed to become a chew toy, her salvation came in the form of a sign post which she ran smack into.
Dazed, Clara tried to get back up, but soon discovered her leg was dislocated. Seizing the opportunity, the wolf pounced, grabbing her by the back of the neck.
Desperate, Clara picked up a stone and started hitting the wolf. In this demented frenzy she not only killed it, but mauled it.
Within minutes, it was over and the victor stood in silence, hovering over the battered carcass. Casting the stone aside, she slowly circled the body dragging her mangled leg behind her.
Taking notice of the blood on her hands, she smiled and licked her fingers. In this euphoria she found herself delighted by her own savagery and in that moment Elizabeth ceased and Clara reigned.