A Cottage in the Scottish Highlands
Sarianna, Emilia and Curvenal were waiting anxiously for their visitor to come. They knew that they were in great danger, but this was the only way for them to find out, what Prince John was planning next.
They had to wait for seven days, when suddenly the small figure of a man entered the cottage, without using the door.
"Jesse," Emilia shouted out in relief. She ran towards the smaller vampire and hugged him. "Are you alright?" she asked him.
"Did you find out anything?" Sarianna asked him.
"Emilia, Curvenal, Mother: Prince John told me to kill you all. He still thinks that I am his loyal servant, which of course I’m not. Now you know, Mother, that he again tries to betray you. I think, his time has come."
"I’m afraid you’re right, my son," Sarianna sadly said. "Well, we will
stay here for a couple of weeks. Jesse will go and see, how Robin and Marion
are doing. When Robin is healed, you take them here, my son. Then, the
final countdown for Prince John starts." Sarianna’s mind started wandering
through her past, back to the beginning.
Scotland in the year of the Lord 253
Scotland had always been a country, which was blessed with its breathtaking beauty of nature. Huge rivers parted the soft green of the country’s never-ending meadows and fields. Rough winds kissed high mountains and huge ancient trees. Old ruins of stones told stories about the people who once lived inside their walls. Deep dark forests were a home for many wild animals, mighty wolves, tender roes and trees, which were as high that some of their leaves high above the ground seemed to kiss the sky, gave shelter to mighty eagles. Every here and there, small villages were to be discovered, most of the people farmers and many fishermen, when their villages were close to the coast. Up in the highlands were the residences of the shepherds. Huge sheep-flocks covered the meadows beneath the gray cloudy skies. Down in the villages and towns smaller churches and huge cathedrals were the places for people to meet. But they were also the places, very few of Scotland’s inhabitants feared like a pestilence. Many lived in old castles and abandoned churches or monasteries. The darkest of these figures was an ancient vampire called Raven. He was just as a dark man as his name described him. Raven was tall, long velvet black hair fell down on his shoulders. But for some strange reason he had the face of a saint of beautiful delicate lines. He was graced with deep soulful brown eyes, which sparkled like stars in his childish face. His lips were two soft and tender lines of a deep, yet pale, red. The nose was not too big and not too small and completed the perfection of his face. Now Raven walked with heavy loud steps through the corridors of his castle, obviously looking for someone.
"Eric, ERIC!!" Raven yelled through the dark corridors. "Where are you, you little bastard!"
"I’m here Milord, I’m here at your service," Eric whispered, afraid to annoy his master more, by rising his voice above a whisper.
"I would really like to know, what is wrong with you. You’re hanging around like a beaten dog. You should be glad that life is yours." Raven’s voice softened. "Eric, life is forever yours - you are immortal."
"But of what value can an immortal life be without the love and warmth, only my wife and my children gave me."
"They are gone for you now. They live in another world. Accept it," Raven said, his voice slowly rising again.
"Lord Raven. I can’t. I just loved them too much and still do."
"They are part of your past, Eric. You are no longer the Earl of Devonshire."
"I know, Lord Raven. But is there really no possibility for me to join together with my family again?"
"I also lost my family, when my master graced me with the gift of an immortal life nine – hundred years ago. Of course it is not easy, but it’s worth it," Raven tried to comfort him.
"I’m sorry, Milord Raven, but I’d prefer to die, than living without my beloved ones."
"Okay, Eric. As you wish. I’ll tell you how you can spend the rest of your eternal life with your beloved ones." Raven had become really angry. But he knew Eric all too well, to know, that the man was just stubborn.
"How Raven? HOW?" Eric demanded.
"You have to make them what you are," Raven simply said.
"Are you serious? I cannot make them suffer so much!" Eric protested. "I know that you have the power to bring me back to mortal life, Raven. Why don’t you just do it then?" he demanded.
"Of course I could," Raven smiled evilly. "But tell me one reason, why I should do it?"
"You owe me something, Raven. I’ve saved your life, by giving mine up. You promised me the world and brought me - here!" he said his arm motioning through the room, to show Raven, what he was talking about.
"Okay Eric. You’ll live a mortal life again. But know one thing. You’ll never be a vampire again."
"That suits me fine," Eric spit out.
"Be in the garden at midnight. I’ll be waiting there for you. Go now." Eric turned around and went slowly out of the room.
"We’ll see if this will suit you fine, Eric. We’ll see." Raven laughed evilly.
Midnight – The Garden of Raven’s Castle
Raven was licking the last remainder of blood from his lips. He had just eaten, to give himself the strength, he would need for the upcoming ceremony of biting a vampire into a human. His evil eyes kept on staring into the darkness, anxiously waiting for Eric. Eventually he came.
"Are you ready, Eric?" Raven asked.
"I am. Now do what has to be done," Eric ordered. Raven stepped towards the pale form of Eric. Raven grabbed his wrists and then he parted his lips and with it revealed his mighty fangs. He pushed them into Eric’s wrist, who cried out at the sensation of the overwhelming pain. Eric’s vision started to fade away, his knees became weak, his mouth dry from fear. Soon, he fell unconsciously to the ground. Raven pulled out a small bottle of his coat and pulled its cork out of the bottle’s neck with his teeth. Carefully he let some drops fall down on the open wound of Eric’s wrist.
"Here you go, lad. Now you have what you’ve yearned for. Now, live the consequences." Raven laughed so loud, that the birds sitting in the trees surrounding them flew away in horror. Then his body was surrounded by a black light and Raven faded away into it.
Eric woke up, to find the sun shining warm down on him. The sensation of the warm light on his skin, was so overwhelming, that he almost forgot, that he was human again. But it didn’t take him long to realize, that Raven had kept his promise. Eric went on his way, back to his cottage, a little outside of the town. He was looking forward to seeing his children again and first of all, of course, his wife, the only woman he had ever loved. Soon the horse, he had sort of stolen from Raven’s stable, reached the cottage, right in the middle of the forest. He dismounted, careful not to disturb the sweet silence of the dawning morning, by making any noise. Silently he walked towards the cottage and quietly opened the door. Oh, how good it felt to be home again. Looking forward to the sweet caresses of his beloved wife, he went into their bedroom. Empty. None was there. The children’s room – empty.
"Looking for something?" an all too well known voice thundered from behind.
"Raven," Eric hissed. "I should have known, you wouldn’t let me go on this. What have you done to them?" he demanded, turning around, he stared at the huge dark man anger mixed with fear in his eyes.
"They are fine," Raven grinned evilly.
"Where are they? What have you done to them?" Eric demanded once again, storming towards his former master. Raven just waved is hand in a circle through the air and by some strange kind of magic, Eric was thrown into the other corner of the room.
"I gave them a special gift, the gift you refused." Eric’s eyes almost plopped out of his head. He couldn’t believe what he had just heard.
"You didn’t," he insisted.
"You know me better than that to know that I did it." Raven was very pleased with himself.
"Now live your life!" he snarled and faded away into his black light.
"He did it," Eric whispered totally shocked and confused, rubbing his
The woman and her two children laid frightened on the cold floor of the small dark cell. They could feel, that something was wrong and that they were in great danger.
"Mom, I want to leave. It is so cold and so dark here," the boy whimpered.
"We’ll leave here soon," the frightened mother lied.
"Are you sure Mommy?" the daughter, a couple of years older than her brother, wanted to know. The woman wasn’t sure at all, but nevertheless, she kept on telling her children, that soon, they would be free again, and save at home. Hugged into each other they waited for someone to come in a corner of the cell, that seemed to be save. They didn’t have to wait long. The door opened with a sickening sound and a huge man entered, a wide black cape fell down his shoulders.
"Do you like it here," the deep male voice asked. The three of them were to frightened to answer. They started weeping.
"Oh Jesse, don’t cry. Everything will be fine, my darling boy." The man came towards them. Jesse wouldn’t stop weeping.
"How comes, you know my name," the boy asked through heavy sobs.
"I know everything about you. I used to know your father, my boy." He paused. "I’m Lord Raven and the person who graced you with the gift of an eternal life."
"I want to my daddy!" Jesse whimpered.
"You’ll be with your daddy soon, laddie. I promise. He’ll come and take you home," Raven promised. He turned around to leave the cell, when he suddenly remembered something.
"Oh, Milady. Don’t thank me. Thank your husband. He’s the one to blame, that you’ve become what you’re now. He wanted to be mortal. This wish is among vampires a crime and it had to be punished. Now, he can live his mortal life, but has to accept the fact, that his family will stay forever on this earth. And it is his fault." Raven smiled at the three frightened forms on the ground.
"Sleep well," he grinned evilly and then eventually left the cell.
Raven’s word turned out to become true. Eric returned to the castle in the late afternoon to take his family home. He was determined to be there for them, no matter if they were humans or vampires. Eric still loved them and as long as his feet would carry him and as long as he would breath, he would care for them in any possible way. Soon he had found the three other members of his family. Since he had lived in the castle for more than six months, he knew it very well, where Raven would held his prisoners captive. Quickly he made his way towards the cells; he only wanted to be with his family again after so long time of being apart. Eventually he found their cell.
"Sarianna, Emilia, Jesse!" he cried out in joy, as he found them well and healthy.
"Father!" Emilia and Jesse cried out together in joy. "Finally you’ve found us!"
"Don’t tell me you ever doubted this!" he scolded them, a huge smile parting his lips. Sarianna just watched the scene from behind. She had always loved it, how her husband treated their children - in such a loving way.
"Sarianna," he whispered, when his eyes had finally found her. Lovingly he gazed at her; his eyes mirrored his love for her. "I found you!"
"Eric..." she whimpered, her eyes wet from still unshed tears. "I missed you."
"I’ve missed you too," he said, hugging her delicate figure tightly against him. "Let’s go home." She nodded, no longer able to hold her tears back.
"Come on now. We’ll be home soon," he encouraged them all to leave their dark, cold prison.
Eric, Sarianna, Emilia and Jesse lived a long life together. But one day Eric’s time to leave them had come. Eric had become an old man of seventy, but now both his body and mind were weak. But he refused to give his life up. On the day of their wedding, he had promised Sarianna to be there for them, until their human days would end. He knew very well, that his wife’s and their children’s human days had ended long before, but he was determined to keep his promise to never leave them back alone. Sarianna had told him often, that he wouldn’t have to worry about them; one day they would be reunited again in eternal peace and freedom from every mortal and immortal slavery.
When his children had told him their last goodbye, Sarianna was left back alone with her husband.
"I never wanted to betray you," Eric whispered weakly.
"You didn’t betray me. It was Raven who committed the betrayal. Not you. I love you."
"How could you?" Eric asked through a heavy attack of terrible coughs. "I am an old man and you are still a beautiful young woman. You never grew old, and neither did our children. But an old man with an old heart can still love."
"I know, my love. I could feel your love for us in every single moment of our life. I will miss you," Sarianna said through heavy sobs.
"Will you promise me one thing?" Eric said, his voice becoming weaker with every spoken word.
"Don’t take your revenge on Raven. He is evil, you’re not. One day, I know, we’ll see one another again. ... I love y..." Eric couldn’t go on. Before he could finish he last words, his soul had left his body. Sarianna started to cry heavily. She had loved her husband all her life long, there had never been a day, when she would have been angry with him or he would have disappointed her or the children.
"I love you too," she whispered and then softly closed his pale eyes. She urged herself and Emilia and Jesse to quickly bury Eric’s body. They couldn’t mark his grave with a cross, since the holy object would have burned their flesh. So the only thing they could do for him was to lay a rock to his feet, to remind passengers of the wonderful husband and father that now had found his eternal rest at a place, where he had spent the most precious moments in his life. And of course to remind them of a wonderful Earl, who had always been a fair ruler to his subjects.
Sarianna was confronted with other problems then. She couldn’t stay in Scotland anymore, if she didn’t want her children to be influenced by Raven. Now that Eric was dead, the ancient vampire had become a great danger for them. She knew, that he would try everything to turn them into real vampires. Luckily, he hadn’t succeeded in this, the day they had become, what they now hated to be. They still could go out into the sun, their reflections could still be seen in mirrors, but they had to drink blood and with it to kill. The only good thing about the whole mess was their ability to appear and disappear from or into a black light.
Eventually Sarianna made a decision. They would need to go to a place where they would be save and Raven wouldn’t find them. Quite sure, that even Raven would find his master one day, she decided that they would move to England, for it was close enough to Scotland and she had already found a place where she could stay with her children. Sarianna and her children packed the few things they needed and then faded away into their black lights.
Only seconds later their three forms appeared from a black light right in the middle of a huge dark forest. Sarianna had remembered an old castle right in the darkest part of that forest, where they could hide from the rest of the world. They had been living there for more than two hundred years, before they met another person, or better said vampire. It was the time when they met Curvenal. The man with gray, very short hair had joined them from Ireland. He had also been one of Raven’s many victims. The fact, that Raven had moved to Ireland by then, was new to Sarianna’s ears, but the best news for her was, that Raven had been killed by the hands of a Christian priest. The punishment he deserved for his cruelty, Sarianna thought. The villagers of the nearby village were no threat or danger for them. Most of them believed that there was a bad spell put over the ancient castle or that it was hunted. Of course neither was true.
One evening they sat together, discussing how they could ever reach their main target - to become again, what they once were - humans.
"Curvenal, do you know who has the sacred water now? Raven used to hold it, but now that he’s dead, certainly anyone else has it," Sarianna muttered.
"Yes, the priest who killed him has it. He never gives it to vampires, because he believes, that it’s their own fault that they became what they are. He believes, that immortal ones are a great danger for the mortal, when being turned into humans again. Anyway, in turn, Raven’s son Ramon killed the priest and obviously he has the sacred water now. At least this were the latest news," Curvenal told them all.
"I’ve heard, that many vampires are looking for our castle. They are the same as we are - half immortals. They want to join us in our fight," Emilia said. Curvenal nodded.
"Yes, that’s true. It is not the problem that they want to join us. The problem is that we need a mortal pure of heart and soul, to fetch the sacred water for us."
"Well, I guess that means for us, that we have to wait for the chosen one and meanwhile we have to give shelter to the ones who are hunted as we are. Humans are afraid of us and vampires kill us. We are not like them and so we must help the others of our kind." Sarianna interrupted them. She got up from her seat and left the huge room.
"She’s right," Curvenal told Jesse and Emilia and both of them agreed.
Later in the garden of the new Devonshire Castle, Curvenal looked for Sarianna and found her weeping into a pond. Curvenal couldn’t stand seeing this beautiful woman crying and so he went toward her and laid his hand softly down on her shoulders.
"Sarianna, what is it that makes your soul suffer like this?" he asked her in a very soft and tender voice. She only started to weep more, but did not answer.
"Sarianna, don’t grief any longer. Eric is gone..."
"How do you know?" she asked through heavy sobs.
"Jesse and Emilia told me about it all. They say you think, it’s your fault that things happened the way they happened. It was Raven. He needed victims and found them in you. It is NOT your fault," he tried to comfort her.
"I guess my mind knows that. But my heart thinks different," she whimpered. Curvenal understood what she said, though he knew it was not true. He didn’t know what to do, but to embrace her with his strong arms.
"One day the day will come when you all will be reunited in peace you, your husband and your children. Believe me. Our savior will come. But we have to be patient."
Sarianna looked up into his warm, soft, comforting eyes. She could feel
his loving eyes gazing down warm on her and this gave her the comfort she
needed. She returned his embrace and like this they went back into the
England in the year of the Lord 1195
Robin and Marion spent over two weeks alone in Devonshire Castle. The young outlaw seemed to have a hard time to work the things out that happened to him, while he had been unconscious after the attack of General Cole. He was tired of being attacked, hurt and humiliated all the time. It had become such a big part in his life, that made both his mind and heart ache. Robin wanted to live in peace and he wanted nothing more, than to spend such a life in peace with Marion. But still, that was an impossible thing for him. It was almost something, he didn’t dare to think of. To his relief, now in these times of such physical weakness, he was grateful to have Marion around him. She was such a loving and caring person, that he was just glad to call her his friend, though she had always been more for him. Much more.
In the late afternoon Robin had asked Marion to take him down into the garden and now night was already breaking. The fresh breeze made Robin shiver heavily because his body was still weak from the heavy fever he had run only days before. In some strange way he enjoyed the coolness of the night. It seemed to clean both his body from the heat and his mind from sorrows. Robin had just become so very tired from the things that filled his days. Now he more often remembered the days, when he had still been a young nobleman, enjoying the luxurious consequences his noble birth had brought with it. Sometimes he only wished, that it was not him to serve others, but that he was the one to be served. He remembered long nights of talking with his father or the soft and comforting embrace of his stepmother, after he had suffered a nightmare. Sure, his fight was more important than everything else on earth, but at times he wasn’t sure, if he was the one to fight it.
"You’re shivering," Marion suddenly told him from behind, laying her hand softly down on his shoulder. "We should go inside." Robin turned around and looked deeply into her eyes. For a brief moment they were caught in each others eyes until Robin turned his head away. Marion could feel that something was wrong with Robin and she could also feel, that Robin wanted anything but talk.
"I would really like to know, what Sarianna meant with you are to help them," Marion muttered as she softly led him back to the castle, holding him by his arm. Robin nodded, letting her know, that he would also like to know.
"Don’t you think that it is quite strange, that it was a vampire who saved your life?" she asked, trying to get a conversation running. But Robin only shrugged his shoulders. Marion was short before giving everything up. She loved Robin more than her life and she was ready to give her life up for him willingly, but it drove her into despair to see and to realize, that she couldn’t help him right now, that he needed her help the most. Although Robin could have been supposed not to be in a state to feel the sorrows of others, he sensed that Marion was drowned into bad thoughts.
"Marion, don’t worry about me. I’ll be okay," he tried to comfort her. "Well, at least after the pain in my back is gone," he added smilingly.
During the next two weeks Robin healed quickly and was soon his old self. When another week had passed by, Sarianna and the others returned to the castle. The Devonshire family and Curvenal were happy to see Robin well again. But now it was time for him to pay them back and finally Sarianna told him, what he had to do for them. Once they were alone, she started to speak.
"Robin, please listen to me, before you decide. It might sound strange to you, but for us half-beings, you are the chosen one. You are the only one who is able to free us from our eternal life. Are you willing to help us?" Sarianna demanded.
"I am," Robin said in earnest.
"Very well then. You have made your decision and now there is no way back. I’ll tell you in short, what you’ll have to do. You are to go to Spain and meet a woman there. She will help you to find the relic, that will save our kind. Don’t worry about being on the ocean for months. You’ll travel the way, vampires do." Sarianna paused. "Are you ready, Robin?"
"Just allow me one more question. How will I find the woman?"
"She will find you." With it said, Sarianna stood up from her seat and with one wave of her hand, Robin was gone.
End of Chapter Three
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