The Last Bride

📅 Published on July 19, 2022

“The Last Bride”

Written by Xavier Poe Kane
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 20 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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Part One: The Wallachian

Csejte Castle, Hungary, 25 May 1605

Blood dripped from the Wallachian’s blade like macabre gemstones of garnet and ruby shimmering in the sunlight. His preternatural hearing alerted him to the charge of a Hajduk raider from behind; he twirled, guiding his blade to the other mercenary’s throat as he crouched. Blood spurted as the life began draining from the attacker’s eyes. The Wallachian thrived in these moments; he was a predator and the invading human scum his prey. He drank from what he spilled, savoring the fear that came as each victim realized their own mortality.

He stood and looked to the west, seeing a noble figure atop her horse who was looking down on the peasants fighting and dying below her. If only she knew what he was and her true place in the food chain. Lifting his sword in salute, he licked the crimson blood from the cold steel, wondering if the legs of the countess were quivering beneath her skirts. He smiled before going back to the slaughter.

***

After the battle, the Wallachian made his way to the countess’s tent where she held court away from the safety of Castle Léka. Unannounced, he boldly stepped past the guards and brazenly presented himself to his benefactor. He bowed as she rose at the imposition.

“My lady, your lands are safe for another night.” He grinned as she shuddered at the sound of his voice.

“Mercenary,” Elizabet Bathory said flatly, “to what do I owe this impertinence?”

He poured himself a glass of wine and took a seat, draping a leg across the arm of the chair. He appraised her and waited for her to fly into a rage or, as he was used to, surrender to him. Instead, she stared directly into his eyes, holding his gaze with an intensity no other woman had challenged him with. His lips turned up in a scoundrel’s grin.

“You surprise me, my lady.” He broke the silence and took a sip of the claret-colored wine. “Most noble ladies would’ve screamed for their guards by now. Or dropped to their knees.” He took another sip. “Or to their backs.”

Elizabet stepped from behind her field desk, grabbed the pitcher of wine, and walked with an exaggerated sway of her hips up to her uncouth mercenary. “And why would I do either when I don’t know who I’m dealing with?” She refilled his glass.

“I am but a humble mercenary hired to do my lady’s bidding.” His eyes watched her with the attentiveness of one predator sizing up another.

She chuckled as she set the pitcher down and placed a hand on his shoulder. “And what humble mercenary would dare to wear the medallion of the Society of the Dragonists?” She slid her hand down his chest, running her fingers over the gold cross pinned there, a dragon eating its own tail dangling from it. She leaned close, her breath caressing his neck as she spoke. “I hope you didn’t kill someone I know to get it.”

“No, my membership is a birthright. I have been the sometime Voivode of Wallachia.” He smiled and placed his hand on hers.

The touch shocked him as her emotions flooded into him without any effort on his part. The last human capable of initiating this sort of telepathic connection had died one thousand years past; his kind—the few who were left—thought humans had lost the ability. He smiled at finding such a rare delicacy.

She threw back her head and laughed. “I am truly honored,” she moved in front of him and curtsied, “to be entertaining the corpse of Vlad Țepeș!”

He put his glass of wine down and pulled her into his lap, not breaking the touch as he pushed his emotions into her and stared into her eyes. They were wide, surprised by the sudden sensations of his hunger and passion.

Elizabet recovered her senses and wrapped her arms around his neck. “So, what do I call you, my Wallachian mercenary?”

“I have adopted many names and not all in your tongue. Székely, Radu, Vlad—but you may call me Dracul. My people named me after the dragon.”

“Mmm, Dracul. I like the way it feels on my lips,” she whispered before leaning in and tracing his ear with her tongue.

The sensation had the same effect on him as his battlefield teasing had had on her. His hands slid up into her hair, pulling her face away from his neck so he could kiss her passionately. He stood, lifting her and carrying her to her bed where he laid her. He stripped before descending upon her, liberating her from the confines of her bodice.

Dracul had not experienced sex like this since he had last mated with one of his own kind. Humans did not yield but needed to be seduced. They trained their women to ignore their desires, forcing them into unobtainable lives of chastity and virtue. But not the countess; the beast that slept within her could not be inhibited. It had been too long since a mate made him feel hunted, and it made him want to feast upon her. Yet she was a noble and would be missed, so he would feed later.

Pain drew him back to the present; Elizabet’s fingernails were digging into his back. He could feel his ichor oozing from the shallow wounds as she came before him. He paused and looked at her as she descended from orgasmic heights. He watched in fascination as she drew a finger into her mouth—a finger with the smallest amount of his blood. She cried in ecstasy as her eyes widened, pupils dilating as the secrets of the ancients were revealed to her. He came as she lost consciousness.

He dressed, his eyes not leaving her nude form as she slept. Her mind was then overloaded with the knowledge of his kind. Her human brain was incapable of handling it, but in time she might be worthy of more from him. He would keep watch on her from afar, but for tonight he needed to feed.

Part Two: The Three Serpents Pub

Hungary, 31 October 1608

A mist covered the road between the villages ruled by Castle Csejte as Janos Skorzeny brought his sister home from the castle for the final time. He considered using the horsewhip, but the putrid stench and malignant taste of the fog caused his broken nag to pull harder and seek a haven for the night. The lamps lit to pierce darkness could do nothing against the obscuring vapor. Deprived of his sight, the thumps of Magdolna’s lifeless body in the simple pine coffin conjured images of her withered corpse, white from being drained of all blood.

“Blood-drinking bitch.” Janos spat as he cursed the absent Countess who treated her peasants as slaves—peasants like him and Magdolna. Despite his defiant tone, the hair on the back of his neck stood on end, his flesh prickled, and every sense heightened since entering the mist.

The nag calmed as the haze lightened and the air became less foul. Ahead, an obstinate light glowed as it fought back the darkness. “I don’t remember passing anything on the way to the castle,” he told the nag, who responded by pulling her cargo toward the light. “Let’s hope they’re friendly to travelers.”

The fog thinned, and the welcoming glow of a wayside pub took shape out of the darkness. As they neared, Janos could make out the tavern’s sign swaying in the still air. The words Három Kígyó Kocsma were carved in a neat script he could not read. Above them was a shield decorated with three coiled serpents in front of five undulating blue lines against a white backdrop. He hitched his nag, and she drank from the water trough as he sought drink of his own.

Shadows fell across dingy walls and danced with the flickering flames from the fireplace. A pot of stew boiled, belching the scent of broth, cheap cuts of beef, and whatever vegetables the tavern owner could scrounge. Each bubble popping released a bland odor that neither offended nor attracted a diner. Only hunger pangs would draw a weary traveler to its nourishment. As he moved away from the fire, Janos’s nostrils were treated to the fragrance of lavender, thyme, and hyssop as each step ground the herbs and rushes strewn across the floor to hide the pub’s natural damp and musty stench.

Janos’s weary eyes scanned the room as he stepped toward the bar. A circumspect barkeep considered him for a moment then diverted his attention to pouring himself a drink. In a corner, their faces concealed by shadow, four men played a game. A comely wench cleaned up, gathering mugs, bowls, and utensils long abandoned by other patrons. He rummaged for a denar and slapped the coin on the bar.

“Staying the night?” The barkeep, a plump old man with long hair crowning a shiny bald head and a silver beard to match, considered the coin before pocketing it and fetching his guest an ale.

“If you’ve got room.”

“Aye, upstairs. Just you?”

“Just me.” His tone betrayed lonely despair.

“This,” the old man held up the silvery coin in ancient, cracked fingers, “will get ya the room and another ale. If you got another, you could have a ladle of soup and Kathalÿn for the night. She’s a pain in the ass and not much to look at now, but she’s a true artist when it comes to fucking.”

Janos took a moment to appraise the barmaid. At the back of his mind, a memory scratched for attention. It was obvious that once she had been the village beauty, but the bitterness she nurtured had twisted her into a crone before her time. “No, I think I’d rather keep my money.”

“Most smart men do.” The old man made the denar disappear.

“So then, what about the not-so-smart men?” Janos stared into the old man’s dark, soulless eyes and tried not to shiver.

“Well, they say she could teach evil to Satan.”

Janos spat at the mention of the dark one’s name. The old man did not. “Is that true?”

“Let’s just say … she’s taught me a thing or two.” The old man held Janos’s stare for a long moment before bursting into a belly laugh. “Your room is the last door on the left.” His eyes glanced at the four men gambling in the corner with dice. “Fair warning, Janos. Stay away from the table in the corner, and don’t be disturbing my other guest staying upstairs. The one in the room on the right.”

He sipped the ale. “Something don’t add up. I’ve never been here before. How do you know my name? And host only one boarder?”

The old man grunted and turned his back to Janos.

Shaking his head at the man’s disrespect, Janos took a swig from the mug. His gaze settled on the four figures sitting at the table in a darkened corner. He pushed from the bar top and crossed the room.

“Hold, Janos. Didn’t old Ordög warn you about us?”

Janos halted when the man closest to him spoke.

“How the fuck does everyone know my name?”

The man to his right delivered the answer in a voice that gurgled as if the man were drowning. “We know you well enough, Janos Skorzeny.” The man looked up from the tabletop littered with coin, five dice, and spilled ale. His eyes were all white with only fine, scantily perceptible circles marking where pupil and retina once focused the man’s sight. His face pale white while the hand clutching his ale mug was an all too natural purple-red.

“It-it can’t be,” Janos stammered. “You …you’re Benedek. I-I saw you die when the hajduk burned our village!”

In response, Janos’s fellow peasant removed his scarf revealing a gaping slit running from ear to ear in a macabre smile. Despite three years having passed since a guerilla’s knife slit his friend’s throat, the mortal wound still oozed blood, and maggots red from feasting on it undulated en masse. Janos recoiled from the sight, and Benedek wrapped his filthy scarf around his neck to conceal his mortal wound once more.

“It’s been a long time, brother.” The man on his left spoke once more.

“György?” Janos asked, disbelieving his ears at the sound of his deceased brother’s voice.

“Yes.” His brother glared at him with the same white, lifeless eyes. The front of his peasant’s cap was stained black at his forehead. “Forgive me if I don’t take off my cap, brother. It seems stuck on—and I don’t think you’d like what you’d see if I could take it off.”

Janos stared at his brother who took a bullet during the Bocskai Uprising three years before. The impossible figure—he began to wonder if they were all impossible figures—laughed while Janos searched for his voice.

“Brother! You’re white as the thighs of our most noble countess.”

György spat a blob of spittle and blood on the floor at the mention of Countess Bàthory and washed the vile thoughts down with a slug from his ale. “Have a seat. You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”

Janos pulled up a chair and took a seat. “Haven’t I? You and Benedek died the same night!” He pointed and wagged his finger between the two.

He glanced at the other figures, their faces obscured by shadow as they averted their gaze back to the table. He could make out that one, the hooded figure seated next to Benedek, was a woman. Her cloak was that of a noble rather than peasant stock. The other an old man, one whose hands had grown tough as leather through working the soil.

“You were supposed to protect your sister!” the gravelly voice boomed. “Not lead her to the dragon’s den yourself.” His father revealed his face, free of wound but not of blame. Eyes white, but still capable of piercing a son’s soul with accusation.

Janos recoiled as if from a blow. “Father! I didn’t know the Countess would be the consort of the devil!”

Old Ordög glanced in their direction as he idly wiped down a glass.

“You could’ve found her a nice man. Lukacz perhaps?” His father’s white eyes were more piercing in death than life. Free now to see the things sons hide from their fathers. Free to judge. “No, you thought it better to ship her off to serve the dragon’s whore!” The words hit harder than his father’s hand ever did.

“What say you, noble bitch?” he spat as he retreated from his father’s venom.

Pale, feminine hands that never saw a day of labor emerged from below the table. They moved with a cold lethargy to the bow holding the cloak shut. With a gentle tug, the bow slipped apart and, as if removed by an unseen lover’s hand, the cloak slid from her shoulders revealing her naked form as she stood.

Janos fell backward from his seat, crashing to the ground. An expression of horror spread across his face. He froze, unable to avert his eyes as she advanced upon him. In life, she had been beautiful. But in death, her smile was a putrid slash from ear to ear from where her blood had drained. Her lips sewn shut so her gurgling screams would not disturb her mistress’s bathing. Oblivious to the pain, she opened her mouth. Coarse linen, stained brown from dried blood, stretched but would not yield before ripping through the skin.

“You can save me,” her voice gurgled. Her skin grew loose as if her body were separating from itself. “In two years, the she-dragon will open her Gynaeceum. I am Zsuzska, and my mother is Anna Zelesthey. Tell my mother my only lessons will be of suffering and torment.”

“You speak as if you’re not dead. What kind of demon are you?”

“One who still walks among the living. Find your courage or else the only poise I shall learn from the Gynaeceum is this.” As she spoke, her hair fell from her scalp in clumps. Skin sloughed off from muscles which soon followed. Organs now stripped of the noble girl’s outward elegance plopped onto the pile of discarded flesh. The skeleton’s empty eye sockets accused him for a moment before the skull cocked to one side in a final, ghastly appraisal before it too clattered to the pub floor.

Janos scrambled to his feet and bolted for the door.

“I wouldn’t go out there. It’s an ill-tempered fog. Who knows what doom lurks for you out there tonight,” Old Ördög said as he poured a drink and slid it across the bar.

“And you would have me stay with those demons? One of whom is a pile—” his voice trailed as he pointed to where Zsuzska had collapsed. Nothing remained, not even a stain. He turned back to the table, and there in the shadows the woman sat, once more cloaked. “I will sleep with my horse.”

The howl of a wolf, answered by the rest of the pack, greeted him as he cracked the door. He glanced at the barkeep who nodded toward the waiting drink. “It will help you sleep. Wherever you lay your head.”

Janos tossed the drink back and thought better of the stable. He hastened across the floor of the tavern. As he reached the stairs, the woman spoke.

“Hurry, you only have two years to save me. Find my mother! Anna Zelesthey!”

Janos took the steps three at a time.

***

Sleep came in fits for Skorzeny. He awoke to use the piss pot, trying not to wake too much before he stumbled back into bed. As his eyelids drooped, he heard his sister’s soft whisper.

“Janos, dear brother.”

He rolled over, covering his ears. “No. Go away. You’re a demon. You’re not my sister!”

“No, Janos, come to me. You need my help.”

“No! Leave me alone demon!” he yelled into the darkness.

“I’m right across the hall.”

“No! The old man told me to not disturb you!”

“I called you. You will not disturb me.”

With a whimper, he slid from his bed and, against his better judgment, crossed the hallway and barged into the other boarder’s room. The fog had retreated, allowing moonlight to cast its silver glow on the feminine shape huddled under the covers.

“I swear to God if you are not Magdolna—” His voice caught in his throat as the human shape moved under its covers.

“It’s me, dear brother.” The shape spoke as it sat upright, the covers sliding from the corpse of his dead sister. She opened her mouth and a rat scurried from it. “Fear not, Janos.” She smiled. “I am not here to curse you but to warn you.”

“Warn me of what?” He stared out the window, the secrets and hidden danger concealed in the darkness preferable to the sight of Magdolna’s reanimated corpse.

“Yourself. Let go of me. You did not do this to me. Forgive yourself and let go of your anger. Or else.”

“Or else what?” He stood and gawked at her. “You’re not my sister! You’re a demon! And this,” he motioned to the room, “this tavern is Hell!” he spat.

“Janos! Listen to me! Let go! Don’t seek vengeance on sleeping monsters! Or else!”

Something in her voice made him pause at the door, his head turned to one side. “Or else what? If you’re truly my sister, you’ll spit it out!”

“In six years, you’ll be tempted to desecrate the resting place of a sleeping monster. Resist the temptation or else you shall share their fate.”

He shook his head and stepped through the door.

***

Skorzeny awoke on the side of the road slick with morning dew to see his old nag munching on grass before the day’s final push home. He looked around to find the fog and the tavern gone. “Good riddance to a bad dream,” he spat as he stood.

 

Part Three: The Prisoner

Csejte Castle, Hungary, 20 August 1614

For almost a decade, Dracul the Wallachian had watched her,  listening to the ebb and flow of her emotions. The human woman had captivated him as no human had before, even those he made his brides. The last time he felt this way was for his first wife from his own kind, the one who died in the Great Purge when humans almost made them extinct.

Elizabet had embraced the life of blood. He wondered if she was a descendant of the Vampyre race. Such hybrids were once fairly common, but none had been found in more than 500 years. She must be protected from the fools that would execute her for being her true self.

He watched her staring longingly out the window into the foggy, ethereal moonlit night. She turned but did not see him, as he moved faster than her human eye could track. He paused again and studied her, wondering at the mysterious thoughts one like her could lose herself in.

“And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly.” He interrupted her musings.

She turned to the mercenary who once knew her intimately. “I knew you would come eventually and free me.”

“Oh?” Dracul crossed the room toward her like a wary predator sniffing an ambush. His ancient eyes scanned the room. The only exits a pair of windows, one of which permitted his entry. A brick wall stood vigil where a door had once allowed the occupant to leave. A slit in the masonry, he presumed, allowed food to be passed.

“Blood calls to blood, once one knows the secret.” She slipped her nightgown from her shoulders. “I want the gift only you can give.”

He had heard the rumors of her debauchery. If she had Vampyre in her blood, she had embraced her chimeric nature.

He smiled to reveal sharp teeth, his canines longer than usual. “Yes, Countess. I have observed you for several seasons. I have heard your siren call, Elizabet.” He stepped close and admired her. That night in her tent nine years earlier had invaded his thoughts whenever he enjoyed another woman. He rested his cold hands on her shoulders. “Compelled not by my seductions but by your own desire. Interesting.” His breath caressed her exposed flesh as he slid his hands down to hers. “But I’m not interested in this.” His fingers crossed her naked hip. “Tell me about the first time you fed. Did you not question your humanity?”

A laugh escaped her lips. “What is humanity?” She crouched to retrieve her nightgown. “I used to believe some of us were better. But we’re not. We’re just animals. Savage creatures vying to dominate.”

Dracul took her hand and led her to the narrow window, for the fog had cleared and exposed the fire lights of a distant village. “That was her village. Was it not?”

“Yes. I promised her family a better life as my maid. She was their youngest daughter. The Long War stole her marriage prospects. As much as they were.” She released his hand and leaned out the window. “They’re not like us. The peasants are chattel, no different than cattle and swine. They feed us. Civilization allows us to pretend we’re more. When I drank from her still-beating heart, as I bathed naked in her life, I knew the truth of what I am.”

“How do you know I am one of your kind? I am merely a hired soldier. Not even a lowly lieutenant in your army.” His cold hands massaged her shoulders.

“Predators can smell each other.”

He watched her blood pulse through her veins as her heart began to race. “Do you choose this unlife? Do you take my gift without reservation?”

“Yes.”

“Then, my most beloved bride, you shall be reborn at Ecséd. There we shall be reunited, and I shall take you home to meet your sister wives.” He paused a moment, pricking his finger on his own tooth before sinking his teeth into her neck.

Her blood flooded his mouth. She was a crossbreed; he could taste the blood of an ancient Vampyre bloodline mingled with human blood. Once such a human had been a delicacy for his kind—and feasting on one an orgasmic delight as well as a culinary one.

As her hands grew cold and she lost consciousness, he slid a finger into her mouth. She suckled from him, feeding off of him as he fed off of her. He had to fight desire and nature to not drain her of life.

Part Four: An Unholy Union

Ecséd, Hungary, 31 October 1614

Dracul watched the mound of dirt his newest bride was buried under. The day after he fed on her, her captors had found her lifeless body. He had been careful to remove any drop of blood or sign she had a visitor. They did not notice—nor would they have cared if they had noticed—the puncture wounds on her neck.

Her slumber was so deep that they assumed her dead, put her in a coffin, and dispatched her to Ecséd to be buried in anonymous infamy in the soil that raised her. To the human cattle, the soil would be forever tainted. To him, it was sacred.

When the peasant transporting her stopped for the night, he swapped her body with the corpse of a whore he had fed on. Bringing her into the shadow of the castle she grew up in, he buried her and stood watch while she evolved from hybrid to Vampyre.

The dirt once almost black but now a barren beige turned hard and cracked. The door opened, spilling sunlight over the mound.

He turned toward his wives as they entered. “Boudica, Olympias. Your sister is about to awaken.”

They sidled up to their husband. “I can’t wait to meet the blood countess,” Olympias said as she slid into his lap.

“She should’ve fed upon men,” Boudica added as she began rubbing Dracul’s shoulders. “Their fear is so much more delicious since all they have to fear is death. The sting of it coming at the hands of a woman adds a nice aftertaste.”

“Also, my lord, what is it about this countess that has so distracted you this last decade?” Olympias asked. “I ruled the civilized world of Macedonia, but she’s barely nobility.”

“Now, now, jealousy doesn’t suit you,” Dracul said, still focused on the mound.

“Still, it hasn’t escaped us that, even when you’re with us, your thoughts are with her. What makes her different?” Boudica asked.

“She ruled men when those around her were insufficient. Then when she proved as vicious as them and not a paragon of soft virtue, they exiled her. Olympias, how many enemies did your husband Philip murder outside of battle? And yet when you ascended after your son’s death, I helped you survive the stoning at the hands of those you’d wronged.” Dracul paused. “If only Cassander knew, you received immortality instead.”

The way Olympias clenched her fists did not escape Dracul’s notice, nor did the way the memory of the stones that pummeled her to near death flashed in her eyes. He could still feel her impotent rage at the broken promise to let her live, the injustice of surrendering to a man whose army she had once crushed.

His attention turned to Boudica. “And you, my love, we saved your daughters, allowing them happiness in an anonymous life away from conflict on an emerald isle. Your slumbering death allowed you to escape the ire of Rome when you had the audacity to make the invaders reconsider their annexation of Britannia.” He placed his hand on hers, his connection not as strong as it was with Elizabet.

Boudica looked away, her fair skin reddening and her sapphire eyes filling with sadness. “I have outlived all my kin. Sometimes I wonder if death wouldn’t have been preferable.” A smile ghosted across her lips. “But Heanua and Lannosea lived long and in peace.”

“And,” he continued, “she has something neither of you have. She was born with the blood of my people mixed with human blood. My kind has not known of a chimera for five centuries.”

The muffled screams of a woman waking up drew the trio’s attention.

“Our sister awakens,” Olympias observed, sliding off Dracul’s lap as they silently watched Elizabet’s fingers break through the dirt.

Dracul stood to help his new bride as she was birthed from her native soil. Her emotions flooded out of her and into him. He could feel how powerful she felt. Her new sisters draped her nude form in fine robes. She was shaking with hunger.

“My love.” Dracul lifted her and carried her to his seat, settling into it with her on his lap. “We’ll get you cleaned up, and then your sisters will teach you how to hunt.”

She looked around her, daylight streaming through the window and across their faces. “It’s day. I thought we slept during the day,” she mused aloud, her voice weak from the effort of digging herself out of the grave.

Her new family laughed. “My dear sister,” Olympias spoke, “there are many myths we tell humans to keep our identities safe. That daylight kills us is just one. How can we be accused of feasting upon them when we mingle with them at the market when the sun hangs high in the sky?”

“Or touching a cross,” Boudica added as she slid a titillating hand down Dracul’s chest, caressing the cross of his Society of the Dragonists medallion.

“But not all myths are false,” Dracul said, his shoulders slumping from the weight of memory. “Silver is poisonous to our blood, which is why we told humans we cannot see our reflection—so they would fashion the vile metal into mirrors instead of weapons. And our hearts are weak—piercing them is always fatal.”

Dracul could feel as the power she previously felt dissipated and gave way to fear.

“I thought we were immortal.”

“Yes, my new love, we are immortal. However, we can be slaughtered.” He caressed her cheek. “But for now, I must prepare a new home for my new bride. I have acquired a new castle in Transylvania.”

“Yes, sister.” Boudica took Elizabet’s hand and helped her off Dracul’s lap.

“It will be dark soon, and you need to eat,” Olympias continued. “It’s easier to hunt when humans cannot see. And rumor has it some peasants are planning on desecrating your grave.”

“My grave?” Elizabet looked around the humble shanty Dracul had brought her to.

“It’s a false grave,” Dracul said. “When you were placed in a coffin after your captors thought you dead, I swapped your body with that of a common prostitute. I brought you here, to an abandoned peasant’s house, and stood guard.”

“They’ve been bragging about the desecration all morning,” Boudica explained.

The two brides led Elizabet to bathe in the last warmth of the day’s spring sun.

“They are filled with anger and overfilled with confidence,” Boudica added, meeting Elizabet’s eager eye.

“They sound delicious.”

Part Five: The Cemetery

Ecséd, Hungary, 31 October 1614

“They should’ve kept the bitch buried in Csejte; we wouldn’t have had to travel so far,” Janos spat as he and his fellow conspirator crept towards the Bàthory family crypt.

“I’m glad they moved the blood-drinking monster,” Lukacz replied. “Bring the taint back to the land that birthed it, I say.” They dropped their tools before the tomb entrance and studied the door to determine the best way in.

As they started their work, a lithe shadow cast by the full moon slithered across the ground. It snaked its way toward the unsuspecting men.

“Tonight, Lukacz. Tonight we avenge our sisters.” Janos snorted. “We fought for the picsa when her husband wasn’t there. We bled and died for their war. But tonight, we make sure she is dead.”

“Fucking nobles. No justice for us but when their blood is spilled? The king appoints an interceptor. Did you hear what happened to Lady Zelesthey’s daughter? She testified her daughter was so tortured that her skin slid off her body.”

Skorzeny froze as the color ran from his face. “What did you just say?”

The only response was a faint whimper.

“Lukacz?”

Not seeing his fellow conspirator, Janos twisted to look behind him. Lukacz, a man who had once wrestled a bear, hung limp in the embrace of a pale, slender feminine shape whom he should have towered over. Clad in black, her features were hidden until a cloud passed in front of the moon.

“Lukacz?”

His friend’s head lolled to the side, and his eyes rolled backward. His tongue hung limp from his mouth, frozen in silent shock. The woman’s face was buried in his neck.

A flicker of recognition flashed across the man’s face. “Help. Me.”

The predator stopped feeding and stared at Janos. Her face more youthful than when they had served under her command a decade earlier. The cloud passing from the moon bathed her face in silver light. Lukacz’s blood was smeared across her smiling face. She began to laugh.

“Help. Me!” Lukacz pleaded.

Janos turned and ran. He did not dare glance back at the horrific scene as Countess Bàthory feasted on a lifelong friend. He ran faster as the gate and safety entered view, but a hand grasped his ankle and he tumbled to the ground. He rolled and kicked in a vain attempt to break the iron grip. When he looked up, Janos watched in horror at two beautiful women who had emerged from behind a gravestone.

“Sister, dinner thinks it can escape.” A woman of extreme pallor and copper hair stared down at him with gray eyes. She licked her lips.

“Yes, sister. It is so delightful when they run. It adds something … sweet,” the blonde replied.

The pair moved in a blur. Janos screamed as Elizabet’s now needle-like teeth sank into his neck and his world turned dark.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Xavier Poe Kane
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Xavier Poe Kane


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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