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I took to sleeping in the day and hunting at night; despite the idea spread by modern movies; in reality sunlight does nothing to vampires, it just suited me better to hide under the cover of darkness. I didn’t need to worry about keep up appearances; corpses littered the streets, flagellants roamed from town to town and men with raven masks were the closest thing we had to medical professionals. One diurnal man was hardly going to stick out, at least not to those of a mortal disposition.
It had been about two weeks since my daughter disappeared, I looked for her every night after feeding but I never found any trace of her. I awakened to find two skeleton-thin people, one male and one female, standing over me while whipping themselves with a disturbingly consistent rhythm. Their instruments of penance were long ropes made of horsehair; metal spikes were stuck through at various intervals. The male who was stood on the right wore only a loin cloth while the female, who was on the left, covered her crotch, bottom and her breasts with a single piece of material for each area. Their skin was extraordinarily pale, matching their bony aesthetic and their eyes were sunken and overcast like pits into the depths of hell.
“Who the hell are you?” I uttered as my eyes adjusted to the darkness.
“We are the Reeves; the Vanguard requires your presence.” Announced the male.
“What the hell is a Vanguard? And what are Reeves?”
“We do not know who your usher is mongrel, but I guess they did not teach you even the basics. A Vanguard is the leader of a Pale, a vampiric dominion if you will.” Uttered the female Reeve.
“I see… and Reeves are?” I inquired.
“Reeves are the assistants of a Vanguard who act as their heralds, advisors, enforcers and at times executioners.” Replied the male Reeve.
“I bet that’s a fun job.” I responded with a slight smirk.
My smile slipped away as they both gave me a death stare, causing a chill through my otherwise feelingless body, that I felt if I had still been human would have truly finished me. They did not appear angry as such, rather they looked cold and unamused, it seemed to burn into my soul deeper than any wrathful expression could.
“The Vanguard requires your attendance tonight, refusal will not end well for you, I assure you.” Proclaimed the male Reeve.
“I don’t refuse. Just tell me when and where.” I assured them.
“The disused church at the edge of town. Come immediately.” Ordered the female Reeve.
The pair transformed into red foxes right before my eyes, their eyes however remained cloudy and dipped. I observed in awe as they loped out of sight, their fur coats seeming to drip with blood in the moonlight. As I had not realised my ability to take the Borru Shape, that is I was yet to realise I could turn into a raven, I simply settled to walk out to the ruins of the old church.
The place had not been used for years; it was falling apart. I saw no sign of any life beyond that of insects and spiders, finding several cobwebs and creepy crawlies; that was until I happened upon the entrance to the crypt, an old stone slab that depicted the mortification of Jesus. It was cracked and crooked, I would call it unfit for purpose if it was still being used. I pulled it back with a long-echoed creak. I made my way down into the torch-lit cavern below. Misplaced skulls and lost bones laid everywhere; you could barely take a step without treading on part of someone’s mortal remains. Mould had overgrown in the cracks and gaps in the stone walls.
I found the Reeves, no longer in fox form, and a third individual who I assumed to be the Vanguard, they were in a clearing almost completely free of old body parts. The new person in stark contrast to the other two seemed well fed, bearing the gait, wide face and belly of an aristocrat. His eyes were a sea blue while his arms and legs where long and thick. His clothes seemed similarly noble but were ragged and dirtied. The once pale white frills were now dirtied and torn. The elegant golden patterns on his shirt and overcoat were worn and faded. His black boots which I imagine would have once been kept pristine were now muddied and soiled. I suspect once his outfit would have matched his eyes in hue but as with everything else, the shade had been lost, now a pale imitation of its form self. The Reeves were once again lashing themselves but had now altered their pattern, they would whip themselves twice and then then the Vanguard twice, this repeated over and over. The scourging was staggered so the Vanguard was always been struck by one but not the other.
“You must be the Nachezerer. I hoped that the likes of you were nothing more than tales propagated by the oblates but here you are, a plague-bearer in the flesh. Are you the one who brought the plague to Germany? Or your usher maybe?” the Vanguard spoke.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve only been a vampire a few weeks.” I responded.
“Who is it that passaged you boy? Who is that brought you about?”
“All I know is I was dead and then was this blue light, like the plague maiden I’ve heard about in stories and then I was sort of alive again and sort of not.”
The female Reeve whispers something to the Vanguard who mutters back in return, I only made out the word ‘impossible’. Unlike the Reeves, the Vanguard seemed to be ruled by his emotions; his disgust at my existence, his mistrust at my words, all could be read upon his face.
“Are you protecting your usher, vermin? If you tell me where they are, I will set you free.” He offered.
“What is an usher?” I asked.
“You really don’t know do you? Most vampires, or Vetostryx as we call ourselves, are made by others of our kind via the passage and they join the Cerement of the one that passaged them, a sort of vampiric family if you will…. but there is rumour of a select few aren’t created by others of our kind at all. Some are said to start entirely an entirely new Cerement of their own. I have never known such a thing to actually happen.”
“Is this what you think happened to me?”
“I do sense a disturbing amount of power for someone so young, but it can’t be.”
“This resonates with me, perhaps it really is the truth.”
“I will not put up with these absurd notions anymore. You are lying to me and if I cannot have your usher’s blood, then I will have yours. I will lead the Grotto of Judas into a new age.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The Grotto of Judas is the Vetostryx Church that revers Judas Iscariot, but they do not truly understand his message. What was once regarded as heresy will become gospel.”
“But what does that mean?”
“The plague is a punishment on us from God. We have lived our sinful bloodlust filled eternal lives for too long, if we do not change our ways all the oblates, that is the human herd, will perish and we will suffer and die in the womb of agony and darkness from which we were made.”
“I can’t tell if you are out of your mind or if you will generally do some good.”
“Why can’t it be both? In insane times you need a mad man. After all you don’t pick a pacifist to rule in a time of war. But perhaps there is a place for you in my new world. You would make a powerful weapon if used correctly, you are surely an agent of God’s will, but you simply need… proper direction. Will you join with me and bring in a new age?”
Continues in Human Resources Part 5