The chains clanked against the hard stone floors as I was escorted in the dark. The faint cries, muffled by the layers of brick, barely filtered through the walls. The stench of punishment permeated Tomb Prison. The small lantern, carried by the guards, gave little light to the horror that awaited me. The death that surrounded us swallowed the small beacon of life that wavered back and forth. A small crumpled man came into view, hiding his eye from the pain of the lights. Like a shadow in the sunlight, he shrank back behind the pile of bricks.
The guards threw me in the dank room that would become my coffin. It could barely fit the three of us. Not that it mattered, these prison cells were built for one person. I didn't fight them as they bolted the chains to the wall behind me. I would have helped if I could. The walls were old. There was no telling how long they had been there, awaiting the next prisoner in line.
The guards left and the darkness consumed me. After an hour of hearing the clonk and slurp of the mason, my eyes finally adjusted to the faint light. Maybe it was all the misery that made it darker than it seems. He had already sealed half the wall.
His chains connected to the guardrail, so that he could go up and down the corridor, barely moved as he worked. As the last brick was set into place I was forever left with the weight of guilt. The thought of the creature I created from my love. There was a reason vampires weren't suppose to feed on humans....
The Blood Moon was full over the Mezzo River. She had been reminding me of this night for a year. We strolled down the river walk, arm in arm, as the giant moon slowly rose above the water. The low hum of the steam works under the street could barely be heard as they continued to keep the lamps a glow. The smell of copper and steam ruled this age. A much cleaner smell than the era I had been born. The clothing seemed more elegant and easier to don as well. I looked over to my love, awe struck by the beauty of the scene.
There she stood, hands clasping the black iron railing, leaning up as if wanting the moon take her away. The way the black lace courted the crisp red silk around her body. The black feathery plume graced her delicate shoulder. An ivory pendant wrapped in silver dangled from the black lace choker. A gift on the night I revealed my love for her. Her hair, a stark black with sparkles of glitter, made her look as if she was one with the night sky. Her skin was a smooth light olive, and her sloe-eyes full of hopeful dreams. Yes, her eyes, they could pull even the soulless into their depths with a glance. She was much like a Goddess from the tales of my brothers and sisters.
Half-pirouetting, the dress spun as she clasped her hands together. Oh that look, I’d never be able to forget the longing in her eyes. “Please say you will!” I sighed, as I did every time she mentioned the subject. My doubts were no secret. I strongly voiced them each time, but I’d given in months ago. “I promised I would.” A single broken promise has been known to eat away at a human their whole lives, imagine living with that for hundreds of years. Some promises are better broken.
She had been romanticizing about it for longer than I’d known her. Our love only made the prospect of it more real. “Why do humans think eternal life is such a great thing?” I’d asked the question many times. Each time she produced a different answer. “Seeing the rise and fall of civilizations is a momentous thing! Because we don’t have it?” Then, one day, she told me the terrible news. She was sick. For two months straight she made even more attempts to get me to promise. I asked her the question one finally time. Her answer pained me so much that I began to cry. “Because I’m afraid to die.” Those words held so much of her fear that they barely made it out as a whisper. How could I say no?
She started growing weak as we crossed the cobbled street. She always abhorred letting others see her in such a state, but tonight she didn’t care. She’d be rid of it forever. Very few people wandered the streets this evening. Everyone was at the lottery, hoping their number came up. Praying they’d be the next chosen for a new life. The giant clock struck 22:00 and the steam rushed through the whistles at its base. As the whistle died down I could faintly hear the steam from the castle grounds. They lottery was starting.
Every Blood Moon a single person to each Viceroyalty would be chosen. They would procure eternal life. The machines that spun and whirled, brandishing steam high into the night air, would be able to choose those few people whom had the ideal blood for the transformation. It was far too costly to for everyday use. It would also break after every use, taking months to repair. Therefore we couldn’t check her blood. If I were a Viceroy, or even a Count, there may have been a way. Unfortunately, I was but a mere Peregrine.
We came upon our Manse just as the hoops and holler assaulted the otherwise peaceful night. The first of the chosen were revealed. Her body had reached its threshold a block earlier. I had pleaded with her sooner to let me carry her. She could no longer protest. The heart break washed over me as I ferried her in this sickened state. It would be insignificant compared to the anguish I would soon feel. I carried her up to the medicinal room and placed her in the copper tub. The cost of the room addition had been costly. When her illness grew more dour I didn’t even consider the money.
The structure took up both floors. The ground floor hid the boilers and pipes that would send the water and steam to the restorative room above. I’d hired a runt to help with the chore of running the machines. The upper room was a marvel all to itself. The copper pipes ran in alluring lines that helped distract the mind. Two grated coffers stood atop the largest pipes. The medicine placed in them was meant to envelope the whole body through the steam. The large copper tub could stow three full adults side by side. The depth of the water would just cover the body for fear of drowning the patient.
Only an hour passed and she was feeling well enough. I knew what she swaggered in for and I begged her to let the promise go. I dropped to my knees begging. She wouldn’t have it. She lowered to her knees and hugged me. The smell as she bit her lip was rousing. I knew what she had planned. Then she kissed me and I was lost.
The intoxicating taste controlled my every move. I kissed her like I’d never kissed anyone before. Our hands shifted gently to free us both of our clothing. It was to be the single greatest night in our lives, her birth into a new world. The twitching and squirming as we writhed through the blanket; the rise and fall of our bodies sweating in the red moon light, I didn’t want it to end. Our bodies met at a crescendo as I went to kiss her again. This time she pivoted to the side and my lips merged with her neck. I willed myself to stop, but my whole being yearned for that succulent taste again. My fangs sank in letting me gorge my true loves life. Those horrors would never fade from my heart.
Her arms, folded against my chest, suddenly straightened sending me flying into the wall across the room. My arm was broken from the force of hitting the dresser. The horrid scream tore my attention back to the bed. Sitting up on her knees, her eyes were wide and her mouth agape. Blood trickling out of any hole it could find. Her ears, nose, eyes, mouth, every orifice leaked her life away. Then the spasms started. She fell backwards onto the bed as every muscle in her body fought each other violently.
As sat there, in shock, knowing there was nothing I could do to save her. Her head snapping back and forth raising her in an arch until her muscle crashed her against the bed again. The sound of bones creaking and joints snapping in protest started drowning out the gurgles. Her mouth began attacking whatever it could, the only things being near it was her own flesh. Teeth sank into lips ripping the flesh away into her mouth.
The spasms became more regulated as she started clawing at her own flesh. The fingernails of her left hand sank into her skin at her right collar bone. I couldn’t turn away as I watched her rip a gash all the way down to her naval. The spasms started again with rended skin and pieces of tissue from her former right breast making nauseating flapping noises.
I was frightened beyond belief. I wanted to help her, end the tremendous pain she was probably feeling. But I couldn’t move. My body would not respond to anything, it wanted me to watch what I had done. The process took less than ten minutes, but it felt like days.
Her body arched ferociously standing on head and toes. Her arms dangled lifelessly towards the bed. It was as if the stars were sucking her soul out through her chest. She fell back to the bed, arms twisted at impossible angles underneath her. She lay there for hours in the bed that was now puddled with every drop of blood and other bodily fluids.
The slight moaning accosted my ears as I watched her sit up and shuffle towards the door, arms slamming it off its hinges. She was gone.
It was daylight before I realized that I was still sitting there staring at the bed. I was tempted to step out into the day, to rid myself of the loss I’d endured. I was too much a coward. At sunset I found myself slumped in front of the gate of the Proconsul. The guards came and I told them of my guilt. Without question they wrested my naked body from the street and brought me before the Lord of the night. I made no defense. I asked for death, but knew it would not be granted. Those of us that dared to cause such unspeakable horrors, to those that we fought so hard to befriend, would live with their consequences. I had broken the treaty with the humans. That visceral change I spawned was all I would see for millennia.