The Depths of Trust

📅 Published on June 7, 2022

“The Depths of Trust”

Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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It had been a whirlwind romance.  Hakamiah Morrison had been head over heels for Delilah from the moment he first laid eyes on her.  He was not greatly skilled in the art of seduction, or indeed even conversation, so it took a few tries to get her to notice him in return.  Once she did, though, Delilah quickly warmed to him as well, flattered by the attention lavished upon her by this awkward, earnest man.

They made an odd couple, her in high-fashion gowns and him in suits handed down by generations long dead.  No one expected it to last for long, least of all Hakamiah. Everyone assumed she would break his heart, he would retreat back into his ancestral home on the hill, and they would go back to seeing him only during his monthly trips to the market.

After all, it was clear what he saw in her, but what did she see in him?  Some speculated that she was after money, but everyone knew that the Morrisons’ wealth had long since run out.  Hakamiah was the last scion, and the sprawling, ramshackle estate of Ramparts represented most of what he had left.  The house and grounds were falling into disrepair.  They would likely last as long as Hakamiah did, but not long after.

Despite expectations, however, the relationship flourished.  Hakamiah was coaxed out to town more and more often.  Saturdays now regularly found him at the dance hall, his stiff moves as out-of-fashion as his suits.  He smiled broadly when he saw people staring, his amazement at his own good fortune clear on his face.

When Hakamiah could take the socialization no more, he would retreat back to Ramparts to recover in its darkened, dusty halls.  None but he had crossed the threshold of that house in two decades or more, yet when Delilah asked, he brought her inside with barely a thought.  She brushed aside his stammering, embarrassed apologies for the state of the house.

“It’s a lovely place,” she told him firmly.  “You must have had such a task keeping up with it yourself!  Would you like me to help?  I don’t want to intrude, but if you’re willing….”

And of course he was, just as he was willing to do anything she suggested.  Delilah smiled and thanked him and started small, with dusting rags and carpet-beaters and cloths tied around their faces.  They worked together a hall at a time, Delilah’s brilliant laugh lighting up the house even more than the sunshine streaming in through the newly cleaned windows.

It was hard work, but in Delilah’s company, the hours sped by.  When they had finished the whole house, from the strangely-shaped attic rooms to the erratic expanse of the cellar, Hakamiah thought that they might settle back into how things had been before, with trips to town and evenings settled in by the fire.  Delilah, however, had other ideas.

“There’s a leak in the old nursery,” she said, and Hakamiah found himself scrambling up a ladder to nail shingles to the roof.

“The porch roof is bowing,” she told him, and he unearthed ancient tools from the groundskeeper’s house, cleaned the rust off and pressed them back into use to plane and place a new support column.

This shutter was loose, this window was cracked, and a thousand other things that had been slowly happening to the house over the years as both Ramparts and its occupant had settled into neglect.  It had never mattered when they matched each other, but with Delilah there to provide contrast, suddenly it all needed to be fixed.

Delilah did not stand idly by while Hakamiah did the work.  She pulled her hair back, donned gloves and pitched in, hauling and cutting and sanding along with him.  Hakamiah saw the amount of work she was doing to repair and restore his house, to restore him, and his heart swelled with love and admiration.  He threw himself into the labors, determined to prove her confidence in him well-founded.

Day by day, piece by piece, Ramparts grew brighter and stronger, inside and out.  For the most part, Hakamiah was happy to accede to Delilah’s plans for repair and redecorating, but there were a few odd issues where he balked.

The first was replacing the window treatments.  Strangely, it wasn’t the curtains that he objected to changing.  They were heavy, musty and decrepit, practically falling apart to the touch.  Hakamiah offered no objection until Delilah added the curtain ties to the pile.

“Leave those,” he said.  “They’ll work fine on the new curtains.”

“These?”  Delilah held up the ancient length of rope.  It was twisted and gnarled, tangled back over itself in knots that had hardened to the permanence of stone.  “You can’t be serious.  Look, they barely bend.”  She demonstrated, using her full strength to try to push the ends of the rope together.  “See?”

Delilah wiped her fingers together, held her hands up to her nose and grimaced.  “Plus, there’s some kind of oil soaked in.  Smells like dead fruit.”

“It’s verbena,” Hakamiah said.  He sounded defensive.  “I like it.”

“Look, they’re your curtains.  You want to tie them back with tangled, oily rope, it’s all the same by me.”

“I do appreciate everything you’re doing around here, Delilah.  You know that.  It’s just—the ropes…they’re important.”


Hakamiah shrugged uncomfortably and offered no other response.  Delilah eyed him curiously for a moment, then let it drop.  She hung the new curtains, tied them back with the old ropes and said no more about it.

The next clash was over an overgrown hedgerow at a far edge of what had once been a garden.  Delilah was detailing her plans to restore the entire area, to uncover the old paths, cut back the wild growth and bring in new plants.

“We can take those trees out and put in some white cedars,” Delilah was saying when Hakamiah interrupted her.

“The quickbeam stays,” he said, immediately looking apologetic for the insistence in his tone.

“They’re all trunks and dead limbs!  We can try to prune them back if you want, but I’d really rather just replace them.  Quickbeam, did you say?”

“That’s what my mother called them.”

Delilah pursed her lips.  “Was this garden important to her?  If I’m overstepping, if I’m changing something that’s meaningful to you, just say so.”

He shook his head.  “Just leave the hedgerow.  The rest sounds wonderful.”

“What is it you’re not telling me, Hock?”

For a moment, Hakamiah looked as if he might say something, but then shook his head.  “I want to hear the rest of your idea for the garden.”

“You’ll have to tell me at some point,” she pressed.

Hakamiah smiled and said only, “Please.  The garden.”

The topic did not arise again for several days.  This time they were in the entrance hall, an altogether cheerier place since Delilah had begun her work.  With the floor swept, the carpets cleaned, the curtains changed and the windows opened, Ramparts looked happier and healthier than it had in decades.  Still, to Delilah’s eye, there was much yet to be done.

“That strange design over the front door,” she began, but stopped as she saw the look in Hakamiah’s eyes.  She sighed.  “Never mind.  I know; it stays.”

Hakamiah looked ashamed.  “I’m sorry.  It’s just—you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Try me.”

Hakamiah hesitated, then looked her straight in the eyes.  “It’s to guard against vampires,” he said.

Delilah’s instinct was to laugh, but she could see in Hakamiah’s face how fragile this moment was.  She swallowed her reaction and said instead, “Tell me more.”

“I had a brother,” Hakamiah said.  “Older.  I don’t remember him, not really.  I was too young when he was taken.  The vampires came for him, him and Father both.  Mother and I were away, or they’d have taken us all.  The house was empty when we returned.  The struggle had been fierce.  Furniture overturned, paintings knocked off the walls, the doors hanging open.  Neither of them was ever seen again.”

“But…why would that mean they were taken by vampires?  Surely there are simpler explanations.”

“Mother saw them.”

“You said she wasn’t home.”

“Not then.  She saw them later.  The fight hadn’t stopped inside the house.  There were tracks on the back lawn, a scuffed trail showing every place my father and brother had tried to break free.  It led out to the garden, to their caves.

“My mother went into the caves, expecting to find villains.  What she found were vampires.”

“How did she know they were vampires?”

“She said they were pallid, dried up.  They wore black robes and arcane jewelry.  Their cave was stacked with bones of all sorts, and the floor was thick with melted candle wax and spilled blood.  Some of the blood was fresh.  Some of the bones still had meat on them.”

“And they just let her go?”

“They were asleep, stacked side-by-side like corpses laid out for a mass burial.  She thought they were dead until she saw one shift slightly as her light fell upon it.”

“Why didn’t she tell anyone?  Why didn’t they come back for you after you returned?”

Hakamiah indicated the symbol over the door.  “She warded the house.  The sigil, the verbena rubbed into the knotted ropes: those guard the entrances to Ramparts.  No vampire can pass by them.”

“Why didn’t they kill anyone else?  Did she destroy them?”

“No.” Hakamiah smiled bleakly.  “She sealed them in.  She planted the quickbeam over the entrance to their caves.  It’s deadly to them, as bad as sunlight.  She blocked them in and left them to starve.

“Every year, the roots grow deeper, questing slowly toward the vampires that killed the rest of my family.  Every year, the vampires’ prison grows slightly smaller.

“I don’t know how long vampires can live without blood.  Perhaps they’re all dead by now.  Perhaps they’re still trapped down there.  Mother just wanted to make sure they had a very long time to regret their final meal.”

“You never looked?”

“No.  There’s no way in without cutting away the quickbeam, and I’m not about to do that.  If they’re still there, I hope they’re still suffering.”

Delilah reached out and carefully took hold of Hakamiah’s hands.  “Please don’t get angry with what I’m about to say.  It’s only a question.”

He cocked his head, waiting.  Delilah took a deep breath and continued.  “Have you ever wondered if your mother…was wrong?”

He shook his head.  “No, never.  She described them in perfect detail.”

“Yes, but—what if it was a story?  Maybe not a lie, not exactly, not if she believed it herself.  But everything you know about this, you know because she told you.”

“What?  No.”  He shook his head again, harder this time, as if trying to dislodge something.  “No.  Obviously I had a father, and I have a memory or two of my brother.  And the house!  I remember what Ramparts looked like that day.  That memory is crystal clear.  I was so frightened because Mother wouldn’t stop wailing, and I didn’t understand what was wrong.  I wanted her to comfort me, but she was the cause, and I didn’t know what to do.  I remember the disarray.  It felt like my whole world had fallen apart, inside and out.

“Besides, if my father and brother weren’t taken, then where did they go?” he challenged.

“Maybe…maybe they just went.”

“Went where?  What do you mean?”

“Went.  As in, left.  Maybe your father took your brother and went somewhere else.  To live.  Maybe the house was in shambles because he’d taken things in a hurry.  Maybe the vampires were just a story your mother told herself because it was easier than the truth.”

“She wouldn’t do that.”

“Not on purpose, Hock.  But people’s minds do strange things.  I never knew your mother, but you did.  Think about her behavior throughout your life.  Divorce yourself from your emotions.  Imagine you were a stranger looking at it.  What was she like?  Is it possible I’m right?  Could this fit?”

Hakamiah’s hands hung limply against Delilah’s palms.  After a few seconds, they fell away entirely.

“I need to be alone,” he said quietly.


“I need to be alone.  Please.” His eyes were downcast.  He would not look at Delilah.

“Hock, I’m sor—”


Delilah reached up to give him a hug.  He was stiff and unyielding in her embrace.  She held it for a moment, hoping for a reaction, then let go.

“I’ll wait for you to call,” she said, then turned and left.  Hakamiah did not walk her to the door.

It was more than a week before they spoke again.  When Hakamiah finally came to call on Delilah again, his face was unreadable.  He carried a bouquet of flowers and a wrapped package, which seemed like good signs, but the careful pace at which he delivered his words suggested a prepared speech.  As he spoke, Delilah busied herself arranging the flowers in a vase.  It gave her something to do other than scrutinize his face for clues as to the words to come.

“Delilah, I’ve had a lot to think about this week.  You called into doubt facts which I had never considered questioning.  I have had to upend a lot of what I thought I knew, reexamine everything.  It has been a challenging and often painful process, and one which I suspect I am still only beginning.

“I could not have undertaken this journey without you.  Even if I had thought about taking the first step, I would not have had the courage or stamina to move forward.  I was on a slow slide to senescence.  You saved me from that.

“I have much more work to do.  I want you with me for all of it.”

He held the package out to her.  “Delilah, will you marry me?”

She took it curiously.  It was thin and oblong, perhaps two feet long and an inch thick.  “I’m told a ring is more traditional.”

“Open it,” he suggested.  Her hands were already at work on the packaging.

Inside was a wooden plank.  Delilah stared at it, puzzled, until she turned it over.  On the front was the warding sigil from Ramparts’s front door.

“I took it down,” he said.  “There are no vampires.”

“Yes,” Delilah said.


“Yes.  Yes, I’ll marry you.”

Hakamiah swept her up in his arms, pressing her close.  The board clattered to the floor.  “Then all I have is yours.”

“Your ancestral lands?” Delilah teased.

“Quickbeam and all.”

“Your house?”

“You are its mistress.”

“Your heart?”

“Without question.” He kissed her passionately.  She responded with ardor.

Some time later, they broke apart.  “Come back to Ramparts,” Hakamiah told her.  “The house misses you.”

“I’ll come by tonight,” she assured him.  “We’ll celebrate.  How would you feel about having a few people over?”

“I might hate it,” he answered honestly.  “But for you, absolutely.”

“Thank you.  I promise it’ll be brief.  I can do that for you.”

“My dear.”  He kissed her hand in an oddly formal gesture, bowed and left.

Delilah watched from the window until he was out of sight, smiling to herself.  When he was gone, she went down to the basement of her house.  The far wall had a large fissure in it.  The crack was almost a finger wide, and opened into something deep and black beyond.

“It’s done,” she said.

A sibilant voice drifted forth from the crack.  “We are freed?”

“The trees still block your exit.  But they are my trees now, and I will remove them.”



“And the scion?”

“Will be there for you.”

“The protections?”


“Good,” purred the voice.  “Good.”

“My payment?”

“As promised.” There was a sound of metal sliding slowly over stone, and then a dirty gold coin slid slowly out of the crack.  It fell to the ground with a musical ring, spinning and settling as another coin eased through the crack behind it, then another and another, a slow golden spring trickling forth from her wall.

Delilah gathered the coins together as they fell, making sure none rolled away.  “So many,” she said, almost to herself.

“There are many disregarded things below the ground,” answered the voice.  “We have had nothing but time to find them.  We have freed them, and now you shall free us.”

“Tonight,” Delilah agreed.

“Tonight,” hissed a chorus of voices.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Micah Edwards

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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