Estimated reading time — 12 minutes
For just over fifteen years, Birkingshire, England; in it’s bright and wondrous splendor, was the breeding ground for joy and cheer. Every year, the denizens of the city gathered around the center of the square to share the tales of the otherworldly. Tales of goblins and elves; of wizards and witches. Tales of heroism and valor. This particular holiday was known to them as “Lore Night”, the one time of year where any patron, young and old, were invited to come from any and all countries and cultures in the world.
“Lore Night” always began upon the setting sun, and would seldom end until the rising dawn. Of course, food and the best of the freshly brewed ale were always anticipated on this night. Fresh killed and adeptly prepared game, accompanied by what would be compared to at least two full grown fields of delicious crops. On select few occasions, it was said there’d even be music being played as the tales of the larger-than-life were being told. The best aspect of “Lore Night”, according to most in Birkingshire, was when one storyteller would subtly attempt to weave their tale in such a way that would attempt to out-do the other tales being told that night.
For example, two years back: a young lad captivated all in attendance beyond all others with his tale of a fierce and virtuous warrior that would conquer beasts and dragons alike for the protection of his kingdom. Another tale that was applauded above all others one particular “Lore Night”, was spoken by a Norwegian sailor who regaled his own account of encountering and defending his vessel against the wrath of the damnable Draugr. Until tonight, this tale was considered to be incontestable in it’s popularity among the commoners in Birkingshire. This “Lore Night”, however, would shift the very history of Birkingshire, forming an irrevocable crimson stain on its otherwise joyous visage.
This year’s “Lore Night” began like every year before it. The excited and anxious storytellers began to amass in the center of the city where at least three cords of dry logs lay neatly prepared for the token bonfire that would blaze bright through the night’s festivities. Long tables of food and drink began being prepared. The market clerk who always ran the meat and produce stands was, as always had been from the prior years on this night, at the forefront of preparing the holidays feast. On this occasion, however, he was determined to make this years “Lore Night” feast bigger and more gluttonous than any before, and any to come. The Timbermen of Birkingshire begun to double the size of the festive pyre as an insurance its continuous burning.
It seemed that the commoners intended for this year’s “Lore Night” to be the biggest and boldest of them all, as if it may be their last. And for many of them, this night would indeed be their very last.
The setting sun saw the lighting of the festive pyre in the center of town. Many gasped in awe and excitement at the monumental height of the hungry, scorching flames; easily tripling the height and overall size of of years before. At this, the mass hastily flocked to the tables adorned with the gratuitous feast. Indeed, the market clerk and those in his assistance had outdone themselves, for even upon the setting sun’s last glimmer; many were still pre-occupied with gorging themselves on the delectable meal and were unable to tell their tales they had prepared all year for on this night.
That is, except for one man. This man, in fact, declined silently to partake in the feast. No one saw him touch so much as even a single crumb from the bountiful buffet. One or two individuals approached him, attempting to extend warm invitations to join in the bountiful banquet. The stranger answered these advances with only a cold, stoic and malignant stare. Upon witnessing this behavior from the stranger; many in the congregated mass began to feel the slight chill crawl up their spines as they observed the stranger lingering near the festive bonfire, whose heat began to grow so immense as to be felt by all in the nearby vicinity.
Even as the heat of the blaze intensified, however, the stranger wouldn’t remove the long, dark ashen-gray trench coat whose collar was erected upwards as to conceal his face; only exposing the eyes under the brim of his pitch black, wide-rimmed hat. As he stood so close to the pyre that the congregation began to wonder what kept him from being set ablaze himself; the features of the stranger’s, or rather lack thereof, became more pronounced. The muted stranger’s eyes were covered in red, raging veins; giving them an appearance not wholly dissimilar to a rabid animal. The irises were as devoid of hue as the trench coat that concealed his features from view. In the center, however, the stranger’s pupils were somehow even darker than the night sky above itself; as if looking into them could cause one to stripped of their soul in a matter of mere seconds.
In spite of the stranger’s foreboding presence, the attending mass gathered round the towering inferno that was the festive pyre; as it was time for the night’s tales to be told. However, despite the full year’s time spent preparing for this very moment; none in attendance could remember what stories they came to tell. None, that is, except for the stranger; whose gaze still fixed on the dance of the large flames before them all.
“So, you’ve gathered here for stories, have you?”, uttered a cracked, hoarse voice; as if the speech was performed under some sort of intense strain on the vocal chords. Though hoarse and strained the words were; every individual ear had perceived them. There was a clear stance of absolute certainty in everyone’s minds that the voice was indeed that of the stranger who, until that very moment; remained distantly cold and completely mute. The sudden shift in the stranger’s behavior caused the attending mass to take aback in shock.
“I will share a story with you all. A story to make you realize the mistake that you’ve all made, and have made for a generation now…” At this statement, a dreadful chill overtook the wind’s breeze; causing the patrons to shiver, despite the ever blazing inferno before them. This abrupt change in temperature caused some to position themselves closer to the flames in a feeble attempt to to find some semblance of warmth in the midst of the suddenly chilling air; an attempt that proved futile as if the very essence of the flame’s natural heat had been taken away, leaving them to dance wildly about atop the festive pyre. This abrupt phenomena, coupled with the formerly mute and mysterious stranger’s threatening and rather ominous statement; forced an air of unease and a jarring sense of dread to spread throughout the congregation.
“None of you believe in the entities in whose names you forge these tales of fiction from, effectively desecrating the respect and fear they were once due!” None of the patrons in the present mass knew how to comprehend the mystery Stranger’s abrasive claims. Surely, they optimistically thought; this facade is nothing except a mere act as a tactic for captivating the audiences attention. This was “Lore Night”, a night of fun and cheer in the regaling of folk legends of elder days and the tall tales molded by the machinations of eager imaginations, not the grim and macabre as was implied by the stranger.
“The tale I tell you now is the story of my land from which I hail. Take special care to listen, for when penance comes upon you all; you may then know in your beating hearts and tour tortured souls , the full extent of those whose you and your mockeries have disgraced. This tale…”, the stranger began, remaining stiff as if he were a statue cut from marble or granite with his unwaveringly menacing glare eternally fixed within the festive pyre’s flames, “begins with the priest of my native land: Father Dirkenshau. You see, the father was a good man, a righteous man.”
“Holy as he was; the wills and righteous ways of the God most high blinded the good father to the dangerous arrogance of closing his mind to the powers beyond the grasp of even the Heavenly Father’s might to contest.” As the stranger continued his blasphemous macabre narrative, a stench of decay and formaldehyde laced the air the was breathed by the congregated audience, forcing more than many of them to begin to gag whilst others attempted the banquet they enjoyed profusely from being emptied from their stomachs as the offensive odor continued to pollute the formerly fresh air. “Father Dirkenshau,” the stranger continued, “had no tolerance for any such aspect of life that was not deemed as being of God’s will. Much like you all; Father Dirkenshau was all too swift to brush away anything deemed not of holy merit as but mere illusions of deluded and perverted minds. Like all of you; the father conducted his life in this manner for many a generational cycle, blissfully ignorant of the forces that play beyond the sacred rites of the Christian faith.”
The flames began to shift color from the bright orange to an infernal red. All at once, the formerly lost heat returned two-fold; forcing the patrons to profusely sweat. Beyond the mild physical discomfort however, was an infernal terror that this, as well as the previous phenomena, must in some way or another, be connected to the stranger. This collectively agreed upon conclusion was not voiced by any, however, so as to not draw any undesirable attention to themselves as well as to feed their equally growing sense of morbid curiosity in hearing exactly where the stranger’s story would go next.
The stranger’s eyes widened, further pronouncing their disturbing appearance. “That is,” he continued; his voice further distorting with each uttered word, “until the arrival of a conjurer whose very nature could, and did, challenge the will of the church. No one knows where he wandered from, as no one could remember any interaction with him. They hadn’t even known of his name.”
The surrounding darkness outside of the immediate radius of the bonfire’s light began to crawl inward close to the towering blaze, engulfing nearly all of the congregated patrons; leaving only a select few to be spared from the shadows by the ever-raging fire’s light. Whimpers of terrified anxiety rose amongst them as they began to lose sight of each other in the encroaching void whilst the stranger, still illuminated in the glow of the blaze, continued regaling them of his ghostly testament. The stranger began to finally undo the buttons of his trench coat, though not quite yet enough to expose any of his features apart from his corpse-like eyes.
“You see, the conjurer wished to live in peace with amongst the natives…”, the stranger continued, his cold sinister gaze appearing to cause the flames to dance more viciously upon the festive pyre than before, “but his hunger and conflicting practices forced him into a life of cold solitude. He would spend his days in a blissful hibernation, and would walk the land under the moon’s glow. That alone, while trivial and mysterious to the commoners, was not what caused them to shun him… it was his unnatural pallet for living blood!”
It was at this very moment when the, now captivated mass began to perceive what they could only describe to be the chilling laughter of a pack of hyenas who lost themselves to some sort of state of hysteria. Hearing these cackles; certain individuals found themselves grateful, in an odd sort of way, that the oppressive darkness that now nearly swallowed each and every individual had rendered them unable to see even so much as their hands in front of their faces, lest they would be forced to envision whatever demoniac beings that could produce such a noise. Despite the increasingly overwhelming urge to attempt flight from the morbid phenomenon occurring in the city’s center, none in the congregation could find within them the strength of will even to flee in fear.
The stranger’s ghoulish narrative continued, despite the infectiously spreading dread amongst the mass whom were now swallowed in entirety by the looming shadow. “His taste, his lust for warm fresh blood could never be sated; for such is the existence of one such as he, always craving, never enough. However, in spite of his ravenous nature, he wished only peace to the village folk. For many years, he would live off the blood of the livestock. One night, upon his awakening, the conjurer had spied upon a beautiful maiden, the most beautiful of any in the long recorded history of this lifetime to ever have, and ever would, walk these lands. The love birthed within him as had not been felt since his conception into this earth.”
The manic howls from deep within the looming shadows became louder, growing closer and more pronounced; much the same fashion as a flock of predators encircling their helpless victims, allowing the venomous fear to cripple mind and body before gorging themselves upon the fresh pound of flesh. Screams and shrieks of fright rang out into the ever persisting darkness as glints of maliciously ravenous eyes shone as crimson as that of the rubies encrusted within the trinkets of the maidens present in the horrific scene of unholy events. Having left with no conceivable alternative for escaping the menacing darkness and whatever malevolent evils within; the mass began to congregate as close to the blazing festive pyre as was physically possible, yet still taking great care to space away from the stranger, as if wandering too close to his presence may see them afflicted by some nature of unsaintly power that he may supposedly possess.
“What be thy lordly given name, sir from the distant lands beyond? She asked the mysterious conjurer…”, the stranger’s narrative continued. “To this; the conjurer spoke to her the very name that reigns the utmost supremacy in the land that I hail, “ I, my sweet delicate blossom, am Lord Vladimir Claviculus of the Eastern kingdoms!” The stranger roared the name aloud, causing the blaze to flare in an angry burst and the deranged howls and cackles within the consuming darkness to bark out into the open night, creeping ever closer to the center.
“As swiftly as his eyes could entrap her’s, her heart succumbed to his lustful whims. Many a night following, the proud Lord Claviculus would call her from her tower to meet him, purely for the consumption of her precious blood from her beautifully porcelain neck. It was said that Lord Claviculus’ bite filled the maiden’s heart with further desire for him; for each night, she was said to have grown restless, impatient for her consort’s return.” At this, many within the congregation began to feel cold petite hands softly caressing their bare flesh as the cackles within the consuming void continued to advance upon them. Soft, inane whispers were heard by each individual ear in the captive mass, almost appearing as sensual in nature.
The stranger, of whose damning glare never arrested from the ceaseless fury of furious flames within the festive pyre, continued whilst his voice further stripped away into a malicious rattle pyre hatred as his tale went on. “Oh, her blood did he drink. Drink and drink, until she no longer answered her master’s siren call. For many a night, he’d searched for her; starving of the young mistress’ blood when he discovered the truth of her absence . For, after they last met; the natives spoke against her to the ever-righteous Father Dirkenshau who, in all his holy practices, ruled her to the world and holy father above as a witch; a Devil’s familiar! With their faith unwavering and their blind convictions, the distraught Lord discovered that his maiden had been felled, like many a maiden caught victim to blind conviction, by a raging fire like this before you all now.”
Screams of inhuman agony deafened the congregation as the wild, untamed flames began to shape and form themselves into the form of a delicate young maiden. Just as soon as it’s fiery birth was complete, a blackened maw opened that released an agonized wail that invoked an unutterable pain and sorrow that blended with the presently potent fear within the mass that could not, and would not waiver. As the flames returned to their former state, unyielding in it’s enraged ferocity, the stranger began again; his ghastly vocals taking on air of aggression.
“VENGEANCE!”, his inhuman voice barked. “Vengeance he swore to exact on those whose holy ways led them to commit this atrocity! Upon them in the cold night, he came! Many a Morn following, the families would find more of their dear beloved gone in the night; only to be spies upon the succeeding dusk as one of the disciples of the Nosferatu, Lord Vladimir Claviculus! “I CONDEMN YOU ALL, YOU BLEATING SHEEP OF THE LORD!” He roared to them one full moon twilight, “DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU ALL, WHOSE FAITH BLINDS YOU TO THE WILLS EXISTENT BEYOND GOD’S LAW!”
“YOUR ACTIONS, DEEMED RIGHTEOUS BY YOUR GOD BECAUSE OF YOUR LACK OF VISION AND LACK OF CONTROL, STRIPPED ME OF WHAT I HELD DEAR TO ME! FOR THIS: I DECLARE THAT, AS LONG AS I AM BOUND TO WALK THESE LANDS WITH EARTHLY FEET; THE SETTING SUN ON THIS NIGHT FOR EVERY GENERATION TO COME: MYSELF AND MY DWELLERS OF THE NIGHT WILL COME. ANY OF WHOM WE SPY IN THEIR PLAY,WE SHALL STRIP AWAY FROM YOU, AS YOU STRIPPED HER AWAY FROM ME! FOR THIS I SWEAR TO YOU AND ALL WHOSE FAITH AND CORRUPTED PRACTICE CONDUCT YOUR LIVES! FOR THIS NIGHT WILL BELONG TO US; THE NOSFERATU, THE VAMPIRE! I CHRISTEN THIS VERY GRAVELY DUSK, ALONG WITH EVERY SUCH THAT RECURS ON ON EVERY CENTURY TO COME, AS THE “NOSFERATUNACHT”, THE VAMPIRE’S NIGHT!”
“And upon his declaration’s conclusion; the vampire, Lord Claviculus began his dark campaign with sating his feral ire with the blood he spilled from the great priest: Father Dirkenshau. Many perished at the wrath and burning Ire for warm innocent blood that night before the sun rose, warding him away until the next annual cycle awakened him; concluding in the same grotesque manner as before.” The abysmal cacophony intensified to a deafening pitch with only the stranger’s ghoulishly rasping voice being able to be distinguished separately. “From that night, and every “NosferatuNacht” since; Lord Claviculus has walked on this cold night, sating his desire for blood on those that foolishly neglect to pay credence to his words!”
Upon the conclusion of the stranger’s horrifying anecdote, the mad cackles of malice abruptly died, shrouding the congregation in a jarring silence, save only for the crackling of the flames. As the stranger began to remove his trench coat and hat for the first time; revealing a gaunt and bony face bound with gray, clammy flesh pulled taut over his skull and long wispy strands of albino hair; his cold blue, dead lips began to part upwards into a deranged vulpine grin that exposed unnaturally long, thin canine molars as sharp as the nobleman’s dagger. Upon sight of this; a young maiden from the terror-stricken audience squealed out: “Who are you?” The stranger, stealing his gaze away from the festive pyre for the first time, fixed his eyes to her.
“My dear delicate Blossom, I am Lord Vladimir Claviculus of the Eastern Kingdoms; and tonight, is “NosferatuNacht”, The Vampire’s night!” At the chilling revelation, the blazing fire burst skyward defiantly into the air to illuminate the horde of beasts that took residence in lurking darkness only moments before, each and every one of them baring their vicious fangs. For indeed; these were the disciples of the Vampire, Claviculus. No sooner than the first squeal of hysteria was let out that the stranger, the Vampire, Lord Claviculus bared his own fangs; rolling his eyes back into his skull with pleasure as he clamped his jaw around the young maiden’s neck, savoring every last amount of crimson he could take from her.
As he rose from her, now stripped of life; the once furious flames abruptly ceased, shrouding the helpless mass in complete darkness as the Nosferatu came upon them. Try as they might, none of the commoners could escape the inhuman and supernatural clutches of the scourging beasts as they were swept away and torn apart like a herd of lamb in the midst of the wolves den from what must have been every direction in the impossible looming darkness! No cries for mercy were heard or heeded when the sun rose that morn.
Silence had laid it’s claim to Birkingshire. All that remained of the events of the accursed night were the smoldering embers of the festive pyre and the mutilated and exsanguinated remains of the “Lore Night” mass; now set to become eternally bound to the tradition of the “NosferatuNacht”.
Credit : Corpse Child
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