Monument of Sin
With my eyes closed I listened for the next roar of thunder.
The storm drew closer.
Huddled on the window-sill, I opened my eyes to see the flickers of lightning illuminating the town far below. Nestled at the bottom of the valley, it appeared so far away, from the castle tower. Perched high on the mountain side, the castle cast a dark shadow on the town below. I could feel my body tremble as another thunderous roar echoed through the open window. Moonlight trickled from the blanket of clouds above and as I held my hand out the light danced between my fingers. The blue jewelled necklace hanging from a long string around my neck, glistened in the moonlight. The sound of the rain taping against the large window, was oddly soothing and I could feel my mind starting to drift.
I remember sitting in this exact spot when my father told me, all the land we could see from this window, belonged to our family. Castle Corvin was built for his Great-Great- Grandfather, as a reward for slaying a fierce dragon. Or so the story goes.
The crackling of the fire pulled me from my thoughts. Behind me, the candles flickered as a gust of wind barged through the open window. As I closed the window, a flash of lightning emphasised the family coat of arms on the ornate window. The green dragon, coiled around a set of three large teeth. Symbolic of the three strikes of the sword it took to fell. If you believe the story.
I could feel terrified eyes following me, as I made my way across the room. The fire and candles created long shadows, that danced along the high chamber walls. I held my cold hands over the flames, trying to remember what the heat of a fire felt like. A distant and forgotten memory. This fire was not for my benefit. It was for hers.
In the middle of the room sat a young woman. Blindfolded and motionless. I felt her heart beginning to race even harder, the closer I got. Running my hands through her fair hair, she began to whimper. I knew she wanted to run, to never look back, but by my will alone, she remained seated. I was not a monster. I had heard the tales of the red hooded girl that ran with wolves and the trail of bodies she left. That is a monster. I wish no such harm on this girl. Memories are such fragile things, with some persuasion, she will be none the wiser. Happy she received a few gold coins, in exchange for helping tend to the castle garden. As I ran my icy cold fingers along her warm skin, I felt hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. I used the red silk blindfold, to tie her hair into a ponytail and expose her neck. It will be over soon, I whispered in her ear.
Slowly, I sank my fangs deep into her neck, savouring the taste of her blood as it drained into my mouth. With each mouthful I could feel the warmth of her blood coursing through my frozen body. My hands tightened around her shoulders, as I struggled to remain in control. The smell. The taste. It had been too long.
I wanted more. I needed more.
Feeling her pulse weaken, I removed my fangs from her neck. Breathing a deep sigh of relief, I wiped the trickle of blood that ran from her neck. Removing the silk scarf, I wrapped it snuggly around her neck, covering the two small breaks in her perfect skin. I had learned from my mistakes. Numerous as they were, I had learned. I was not a monster. I could have bled the girl dry and revelled in the ecstasy that brought, but a corpse raises questions. Not to mention the effect it would have on the small population. I had killed my fair share of innocents, but just like this poor girl, I did not ask for this.
Helping her to stand, she stumbled, weary from the blood loss. She looked the same age as me, or at least the age I once was. I guided her out in to the long dark hallway, she followed blindly, offering no resistance. The first door in the hallway opened into a large lavish bedroom. Here she would spend the rest of her stay. Gently I helped her into the bed.
I felt sorry for her, but unlike me, she would not wake with the memories of this night.
After closing the door, I made my way up the long corridor. The howling of the wind could be heard through the old castle walls and the thin veil curtains fluttered peacefully in the breeze. The rain was still lashing against the large windows as I passed. The storm had been relentless through the night. Moonlight poured in through the ornate windows that stretched up into the rafters. Cast in the cold light, shadows of the rain-drops ran down the far wall. Long ago, these were the nights I was happy to be inside. The castle had been my shelter. As lightning flashed, I noticed all the eyes staring at me. Watching me. My ancestors greeted from the shadows as I passed. Taking a candle from one of the stands that lined the hallway, I approached.
My Great-Great-Great-Grandfather. The brave knight that singled handily slayed the dragon.
Single. Handily. Slayed a dragon.
A convenient fairy tale spun by the simple towns folk. There is but a small bit of truth to the story. He was a Knight. Not so sure about the brave part. Some in the family said he fell prey of a trickster demon, others say he made the deal willingly. A castle, riches and his own loyal subjects, were promised to him. In return, the first three daughters born to his family were to be marked by darkness. When they reached the age of eighteen. To be fair, the demon held up his end of the bargain. I wish very much that my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather was still alive. So that I may drain the life from him myself. I never thought it possible to hate someone that I had never met, that died long before I was even born, but I did. I hated him.
I wished to rip the painting from the wall and burn every trace of him from the castle. Father said we needed to keep up the illusion. We needed him to be the brave dragon slaying knight.
The candle flickered in the breeze, threatening to go out. As I walked down the hallway, I passed several large exquisite paintings of my noble ancestors. All male.
Until, my mother. I was always told I was the spitting image of her. I gazed up at the old painting of my mother and held my blue jewelled necklace tight in my hands. The same necklace she wore in the painting. Her jet-black hair framed her soft pale face and her piercing blue eyes had a caring look to them. I wanted nothing more than to have met my mother, to spend time with her and to get to know her.
I was happy though, that she never got to see me like this. Dying in child birth, she never saw her eighteenth birthday. So, the curse started with me.
The candle lost its struggle with the breeze and went out. Only then did I notice the warm red glow that crept over the mountain sides. The night had passed so quickly.
A gust of wind blew through my chambers, causing the bulky doors to my room to slam shut. I felt the force vibrate in my bones as the sound resonated off the cold stone walls. Like the other chamber, my bedroom had the same style of tall ornate windows. Although, here they were hidden behind thick black curtains that hung from the ceiling. The hearth fire and candles gave the room a warm glow, still this had no effect on my cold skin. Running my tongue over my teeth, I could still taste her blood. I longed for more.
Stood directly in front of my dress mirror, I stared into it, trying to recall what I looked like on my eighteenth birthday. It felt like a life time ago and in many ways, it was. I had stopped counting long ago. Still, my father remained a constant reminder. Now he was grey and feeble, soon he too would leave me. That will certainly complicate things. Visible in the mirror was the sturdy marble plinth, where my reflection once stood. Surrounded at the base by the meticulously cared for floral arrangements. It was the centre piece of my chambers and sat on top of it, the crystal monument to my family. Made of such pure crystal, it appeared almost invisible in the dark. The red glow began to appear behind the curtains and with the hunger some-what satiated, it was time to rest.
As I climbed the marble steps, I glimpsed my bed, in the other end of the room. The comfort it once gave was a distant memory. Reaching the top of the steps, I ran my finger over the top of the crystal coffin. Lovingly crafted by a group of the towns folk, a long time ago. They constructed it for the ill-fated Duchess that never awoke after going to sleep on her eighteenth birthday.
Inside the coffin lay a single pillow, my only comfort during my slumber. After closing over the coffins top, I clasped my hands over my chest, holding a perfectly tranquil pose.
A frozen symbol to the people and an undying reminder of my family’s deception.
A monument to their sins.