By Brandon Terrell

He crouched there, quivering. Deep in the shadows of a far-away corner of the castle, he sat with his head between his knees and his arms wrapped around his legs. His body ached from the amount of time he had hidden there, in the abandoned room in a cobwebbed corner. His mind, filled with fear, ran back the dreadful events of the night so far, fearing the end of it. Just a mere four hours earlier, young Dimitrian Othena was at his usual Saturday night hangout, the small town pub at the end of the main road. He sat at a table with a group of five chums, guzzling down tapped brews and laughing heartily at Artrives, a small, plump man whose life had been full of hilarious adventures. Artrives had been telling a tale of his he was climbing atop his beautiful white stallion. He was just about on when the horse took off at a brisk pace, Artrives hanging on for dear life. His efforts were futile as he flew off the horse and landed face first in a steaming pile of fresh horse manure. His story ended with a mighty cheer as they all downed the hard liquor. “Hey, Dimitrian!” Artrives called boisterously. “Where is thou bride to be, the voluptuous Gwendolyn?” “At the cottage, fixing house,” Dimitrian replied. Gwendolyn was his one true love. He still remembered the day he had met the brown haired, fair skinned beauty. He was kneeling before a large marble stone in the cemetery across town.

The stone was located beneath a weeping willow and the wind howled through the branches. His eyes closed, he recited the religious prayer his mother had taught him as a young child. The sky above him was cloudy, a storm soon approaching. The stone in front of him was that of his parents, who had been killed when their house had burnt down only a year earlier. Through the wind and blowing leaves, he heard another voice far away. It was a female voice. He thought that it was just his ear being fooled by the wind, but he stood up, opened his eyes, and gazed around the old hills, covered with stones similar to that of his parents. Fifty feet away stood a beautiful brown haired woman. She was clad in black, and her hair was blowing in the wind. She seemed to be talking to someone but there was no one there. Dimitrian frowned and weaved between stones to stand next to her. “Good afternoon,” Dimitrian greeted her. “Good afternoon,” she answered. He could see tears welled up in her stunning green eyes. He glanced slowly over at the stone and read the names engraved into it: Othos and Patrica Fuhr. The deceased must be her parents as well, he hypothesized. He extended his hand, palm up. “Dimitrian Othena,” he said, bowing his head slightly. “Gwendolyn Fuhr,” she answered monotonously, not extending her hand. “I couldn’t help but overhear you talking to someone, and I thought that you might be addressing me,” he said, his arm falling back to his side. “I’m sorry,” she blushed slightly. “Sometimes I think that they can hear me better if I talk to them aloud.” She gestured to the stone.

“I haven’t seen you around town before. Are you new to the area?” “No, I live in the country west of town. My grandmother owns it and I moved here after my parents passed on three years ago.” “Well, I hope to see you again—“ His mind was slammed back to the present as a large, burly man burst through the front door. “Dimitrian!” he yelled frantically. “Me wife just told me she was a visiting that there cottage of yours and suddenly the door was knowcked to the ground by that loner Batharie, He whisked in, abducted your Gwendolyn without saying a word and dashed off to his castle!” “Dear God in Heaven,” Dimitrian muttered. Count Batharie was a town legend. He lived in an old mossy castle overlooking the town. Years ago, the same thing happened to another girl. That night, the moon had turned a bright red, hideous in sight. The next day they found her at the foot of Batharie’s hill, pale and bloodless. Dimitrian, angry and determined, turned to his liquor drinking friends. “Gents!” he yelled. “Who here will go with me to Batharie’s castle and retrieve my dear Gwendolyn?!” The crowd, wide-eyed, exchanged glance with one another until Jamieson, the burly man who had relayed the message to Dimitrian said, “I will help you, friend.” Artrives called out, “Tis after dark. How will we ever find our way?” “What are you, a coward?” Jamieson inquired. “I have four torches in my shed at my cottage,” said Tyrrell, another of

Dimitrian’s acquaintances. Together Dimitrian, Jamieson, Artrives, and Tyrrell set out across town to the gravel drive that led up the hill to the Batharie castle. They stood, torches in hands, at the thick iron-wrought gate that blocked their way. Dimitrian pushed against the gate and with a murderous creak it opened. They quickly and stealthily creeped up the drive, gravel crunching at their feet. They arrived at the door to the abominable castle. Jamieson reached out, grabbed hold of the door-knocker and rapped on the door three times. The door creakily opened but no one stood in the darkness beyond. “Hello!” Jamieson stepped forward into the domain. Millions of bats burst through the darkness and out the door. The group of three behind Jamieson dove to the ground but Jamieson could not. Bats were ripping and picking at his skin and less than a minute later his bony corpse fell to the ground, his torch burning beside it. Cautiously, the other three raised themselves from the ground and entered the dark recess. They searched quietly, tip-toeing along the wooden floors. Dimitrian had broken off from the other two and was heading down a flight of winding metal stairs into a dark abyss when he heard two blood-curdling screams. He dashed back up the stairs into the room where he had left them. They were not there but a door on the left side of the room was ajar. Dimitrian slowly opened the door so he could see through and immediately wished that he hadn’t. Lying on the floor were the bodies of Artrives and Tyrrell, their hearts ripped from their chests. Above them loomed a wretched creature. It was similar

to a bat, yet it had a large, drooling mouth full of pointed teeth. In its right hand were the two missing hearts. A long, slimy tongue slapped around inside of the creature’s mouth, then flew out, snatched the hearts, and retreated back into the gory mouth. Then, the creature convulsed and began to shrink. The skin turned a pale peach color and the teeth disappeared. The creature had just transformed into a human and it was a human that Dimitrian recognized. Batharie said aloud, “Midnight. Tonight at the stroke of midnight the Blood Gods will receive their virgin and render me immortal.” He chuckled and walked into the adjoining room. Dimitrian backed away from the door and ran to hide. That was where he was now, huddled and aching. His torch flickered next to him. The time was close to midnight. A god-awful scream awakened Dimitrian from the cowardly sleep he had been in. “Gwendolyn,” he whispered. With that, he stood up, stretching his hurt muscles. He picked up his torch and walked briskly through the house, yelling Batharie’s name. He walked down a large hall where at the end stood an open door. Candles illuminated the large, spacious room. At the far end, below a portrait of Count Batharie was a stone alter, where Gwendolyn lay tied. Behind her was Count Batharie, eyes closed, hands reaching towards the ceiling. He was chanting a prayer of some sort. “Batharie!” Dimitrian yelled. “How dare you snatch my Gwendolyn?!” Batharie’s eyes flew open. He eyed Dimitrian up carefully. “The Blood Gods are not happy. The sacrifice must be taken now!” “You will take nothing!” Dimitrian yelled and dropped his torch. He dashed to the wall, where two sabers hung crosswise. “Fight me, now!” As he advanced

on Batharie and the alter, the other sword shot past him and into the outreached hand of Batharie. He chuckled. “What in God’s name are you?” asked Dimitrian. “More than your mind can imagine,” Batharie replied as he walked around the alter. “And definitely not good.” With that, he swung his saber in an arc towards Dimitrian. Dimitrian blocked it with a clang. They fought, clashing swords back and forth while they wandered about the room. There was a sound from across the room at the alter and Dimitrian glanced at his lover. Batharie took advantage and swung at Dimitrian, slicing open his chest. Dimitrian yelled in pain and swung wildly at Batharie. Again, they battled through the room, once in a while each cutting open the other. Outside, the moon was turning blood red, meaning the sacrifice was going to take place. From the window in the room, Batharie saw this and stopped fighting, dashing over towards the alter. Dimitrian saw this and slashed at Batharie’s legs. The sword went through the right leg at the knee, slicing it clean off. Batharie fell to the ground in pain, yelling, “No! I must complete the sacrifice! I must kill the virgin!” Dimitrian walked over to the bloody Batharie, pointing his sword against Batharie’s chest. “Why do you wish to harm my Gwendolyn?” Batharie looked up at Dimitrian. His eyes glowed a crimson red and his canine teeth had grown pointy. “So that the living undead may live forever.” “My Lord!” Dimitrian gasped. It all somewhat made sense. The bats, the creature, the bloodless body many years ago and the Blood Moon. The creature laying before him was a vampire.

“May the demons of Hell condemn your soul in damnation for all eternity,” Batharie spat. “You first.” Dimitrian jammed the sword deep into Batharie’s heart. The count jerked in pain, blood shooting from his mouth. It covered Dimitrian, sizzling into his open wounds. Finally, Dimitrian pulled back the sword and sliced off Batharie’s head with one mighty arc. It fell to the floor. Dimitrian crossed the room to the alter and untied Gwendolyn. She groggily got to her feet. “Come on,” Dimitrian encouraged. “Let’s go home.” Picking up Batharie’s head by the hair as they passed it as a trophy to show the townspeople, they headed for the castle’s exit. Bust as they passed the old, ancient mirror by the front door, oblivious to them, only the body of Gwendolyn could be seen in its reflection.