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The Awoken Dead

The awoken dead


Estimated reading time — 15 minutes

The following are pages taken from the journal of Andrei Bucur found buried under the church of a lost village in Romania.

April 17, 1479

It has been a long journey but at last our company of settlers have found the lands we have been searching for. We have found a great bit of flatland surrounded by forests full of wild game. In the distance are the mighty Carpathian Mountains which shall help bless our people with rain. The soil here is fertile and perfect for our farming needs. I have already found a perfect hill to begin construction of a home for my wife Nadia and I. She is with child and I hope to have our home built before our baby is born. I truly believe that we will have a joyous life here.

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October 3rd, 1479

Our land is prospering beautifully and I couldn’t be happier. Already a handful of villages and farms have sprouted. It seems every week more and more settlers come through the woods seeking their own patch of land. It would seem that word of our good fortune is spreading and I say the more the merrier. Today we began scouting for more land closer to the mountains. There seems to be some quality land however some strange things began to happen as we drew close to the shadow of the mountain.

As we drew closer our horses seemed to become afraid. They became restless and began to fight violently against the reins. As we approached a series of large thorny bushes the horses were nearly driven mad and began bucking riders. We chose to go back for there was no good land there anyway. As we left the mountain’s shadow the horses returned to their docile ways as if nothing had happened. There could be some dangerous animals nearby, we will have to investigate another day.

October 22nd, 1479

God has smiled upon us today. This morning my wife has at last given birth to the most beautiful baby girl. She has my nose and her mother’s stunning green eyes. She felt so small and delicate in my hands so we named her Adina. May she grow in beauty and grace. I decided to wrap her up and show her the peaceful night sky. She looked even more beautiful bathed in the starlight. We simply stared at the mountain. We heard a lone wolf call in the distance. My daughter shivered at the sound but I simply held her close. I would never allow anything to harm her.

March 16th, 1484

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Today we can add one more to our little homestead. My older brother Ivan has decided to settle in our community. He will stay with us until we can build him his own home. Nadia isn’t too thrilled about the extra company but Ivan is a hard worker and besides little Adina adores him. I can never find myself saying no to her.

April 20th, 1484

We continue construction on Ivan’s house. We decided to gather wood from the forest closer to the mountain. In a strange sense of deja vu as we approached the base of the mountain our horses began to throw a fit. I seem to remember them doing this a few years prior so I thought it best if we left the horses on the edge of the forest and continued on foot.

We began chopping trees for the necessary wood when something odd took hold of Ivan. He grew quiet and stared deeper into the woods. He suddenly dropped his ax and began walking through the trees. I followed him and called his name several times but he continued to ignore me. He stopped in front of a large thorn bush and simply stared. It seemed dead quiet for a moment as if the forest itself was afraid of those bushes. He reached out his hand and cut himself badly on one of the thorns.

As soon as a drop of blood hit the ground a strange and unnatural wind blasted us in the face. Ivan came out of his strange trance and cradled his open wound. His face held true terror at the torrential wind. We could hear the horses going wild at the edge of the forest so we decided to call it a day leaving the wood behind. We both think it’s best that we don’t go near the mountain again.

April 21st, 1484

This morning brought grim news from all over our frontier. I was working on the entryway to Ivan’s cabin when one of the farmers came to me saying that something had killed one of his cattle in the night. We went over to investigate the scene and I lost my breakfast at the mere sight. To say that the steer had been killed was an almost sin worthy omission. This cow had been slaughtered. It was torn to shreds from head to toe. Large claw and teeth marks riddled the carcass. Yet that was not the strangest part. Despite the evident carnage there was not a single drop of blood anywhere on the scene.

As I was purging myself of Nadia’s eggs and beans another villager from a nearby community came to us with a similar story. It would seem that something had torn apart their goats. I didn’t dare visit the scene but he told me enough to know that it had to be done by the same creature. Before lunch, which I could not even look at, people from 2 other villages came with the same stories of livestock obliterated overnight.

It was clear that there was some sort of feral animal in our midst. I know that we have heard the howls of wolves in the distance at night, but I’ve never seen wolves do anything like this before. We are going to set traps near our stables and organize hunting parties starting tonight. We have agreed that until this beast is caught we must keep the livestock that remains locked up tight after nightfall.

May 12th, 1484

It has been over 3 weeks since we have begun hunting for the beast that stalks us and we have turned up nothing. What we find even stranger is that the forests, which were always full of game, are now seemingly devoid of life. We don’t know if our mystery animal has turned on them since it can’t feed on our livestock but it has us worried. What is even worse has been the drought. Ever since the day of the slaughter the rain’s have stopped. Our crops are dying and we have no idea what to do. Ivan rode out earlier today and came back to tell us that beyond our borders the rain falls heavy. It is as if these lands that have blessed us these many years have turned a curse on us.

May 17th, 1484

It would seem that the misfortune that has plagued our community as of late has gotten worse. Last night Ivan went out to smoke his pipe as we forbade him to do so in the house with Adina. This morning we found his bed was not slept in. We looked around the property for him and what we found was beyond horrific.

We found him dead on the doorstep of the barn, his hand holding the door handle tight. His throat had been violently slashed by some predator and his body seemed to be missing a great deal of blood despite none being found at the scene. I know in my heart that this was the same mysterious beast that killed our livestock and has now moved on to new prey. All the villagers have armed themselves and we have reinstated the hunt. I pray we can find whatever did this so that my brother’s soul may know peace.

May 19th, 1484

We buried Ivan today, the service was short but very sweet. I don’t think any of us will rest easy until we find this creature but the hunts keep turning up empty handed. Adina is very distraught because she truly loved her uncle. Nadia is terrified and wants to leave but I have told her that we must remain strong in difficult times. I will not let any beast or evil force us from our home.

June 25th, 1484

Children truly are wonders as I continue to discover. Tonight I was tucking in Adina when she asked a question that I dreaded. “What happens when we die?” She asked me in a very natural inquisitive tone. After the death of her uncle I knew this question had been coming, I was almost shocked it had taken this long. I explained to her that when we die our body rejoins the Earth and our souls are taken to heaven where we will know eternal peace.

“So uncle Ivan will find peace then?” She said with a hopeful tone. “Yes my sweet baby.” I told her with a smile. Adina let out a relaxed sigh and a nod. “I’m glad. I hope that he soon stops coming to my window every night.” She said matter of factly. I was so shocked I couldn’t even muster a response. Children are so full of imagination.

June 26th, 1484

What does a man do when he is faced with the impossible? Despite dismissing Adina’s words last night as foolish, I was the one made a fool this morning. I was doing my chores when I happened to look up at her window. What I saw stopped my blood cold. On the outside of her second storey window were clear muddy finger and claw marks. No animal could have climbed up there and made those marks.

I rushed inside and began questioning Adina about what she saw. The stark honesty about what she revealed shook me to my core. She told me that Ivan had been appearing at her window every night since his funeral. She didn’t say anything at first because she believed that she was merely dreaming. Soon after he began appearing before she had gone off to sleep and she knew he was real. I asked her what it was that he wanted. She said that he asked in different ways but it was always the same request. “May I come in?”

I asked if she ever said yes but she merely broke into tears and shook her head. I held her as she cried and sobbed about how afraid she was. I tried to comfort her saying that it was all in her head but with those marks on her windows I didn’t believe it myself. I went to our local priest Father Darius and told him my story. He grew pale and quivered slightly but insisted that the two of us exhume the body immediately.

The two of us grabbed our shovels and began the long job of digging up the coffin. Neither of us said a word as we worked and I could see that the father was afraid. He kept giving nervous glances at the position of the sun. At the time I assumed that he must have had other appointments but I now know different.

It took hours but finally we removed the coffin from the ground. I found it odd that despite the summer heat the coffin was unnaturally cold. Father Darius placed his hand on the cold wood and his eyes shot up in shock. He advised me to bring it into the church quickly and discreetly. We brought the coffin inside and I undid the lid. What we found stole the breath from both of us.

The body, which had been dead for over a month, was in perfect condition. The skin had grayed slightly but other than that it looked fresh. There had been no decay or rotting, not even an odor. I looked at Darius who signed the cross and began backing up from the body in terror. He looked at me and motioned me to sit down. What he told me next will forever be burned on my memory.

“I know this will be hard for you to believe my son, I wish I didn’t believe myself but the evidence is right in front of us. Your brother is no longer a member of the living but unfortunately he is not dead either. Ivan was killed by a creature, this we all knew but not by any beast made by our lord. He was killed by and therefore has become the Stigori.

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They are unholy demons of an ancient and terrible power. They hold power over the rain and feed on the blood of the living. In the back of my mind I have felt their presence here but I didn’t want to believe it. Now looking at your brother’s corpse I am forced to face reality. Our coming here has awakened a terrible curse. We have awoken the living dead and they will hunt us for the rest of our days.”

I listened to the father in quiet shock. What he told me was almost too fantastical and yet I believed every word. I asked him about Ivan and he explained that every night at sundown he will rise from his grave to seek the blood of the living. Since we were his family he would hunt and torment us first. The Stigori fed on misery as much as blood and he would make us suffer before the end. That was unless we put him at peace here and now.

He told me that we must pierce his heart with a stake of ash, elm or cedar. The wooden stake will subdue the curse and prevent him from rising. Then we would have to remove his head with a silver blade and place the corpse back in the coffin face down so the cursed soul would return to the underworld instead of the Earth. With a heavy but strong heart we set to our work and before the sun had set we had performed the grizzly deed.

Setting Ivan in his new grave seemed to lift a great weight off my shoulders. I knew in that instant that he was finally at peace. As we shoveled the final bit of dirt over the body a strange occurrence took place. With the sun shining down and barely a cloud in the sky a heavy rain began to fall. The two of us stood in the rain for a few moments letting the end of this horrible drought wash over us. Today we have truly done the lord’s work and we at last will know peace.

July 1st, 1484

Will tragedy ever simply leave our family alone? Happiness had just returned to our family when now Adina seems to be ill. Her body goes cold and sleep seems to be evading her. She can not stomach being in the light and feels ill at all hours of the day. We can find no cause for this illness but she does bare a couple of small marks on her neck. Every night I pray for her and her recovery. Please lord just leave us be.

July 5th, 1484

Today I have no more prayers and no more faith. We awoke this morning to no groans coming from Adina’s room. I felt relief that perhaps she was healing, however I soon realized that there were no sounds coming from her room at all. Nadia and I rushed to her room but we both knew it was too late.

As we opened the door there was sweet Adina laying in bed with her eyes wide open staring blankly into the abyss. Nadia rushed to her bed but I couldn’t move. I knew the stark truth of that blank stare. Our sweet little girl was gone. Nadia screamed until her voice was hoarse and I simply stood and stared. I could not act, I could not function, I was no longer human.

All I could ask myself was why? Why would God do this to his children? What have we done to deserve such things? The answer I came to was that a loving God couldn’t do this to such a beautiful child. There is no one watching over us, we are alone.

July 7th, 1484

Today Nadia and I stood for the last time as mother and father as we watched our daughter be placed in the Earth. Father Darius made a long speech that neither of us could hear. We were dead to the world as our heart now lies buried in the Earth. We went back to our empty home and have said nothing to each other since. Nadia has taken to sleeping on her chair facing the door as if she expects our daughter to walk in. I wish she would, I truly do.

July 8th 1484

I write this entry not before bed as usual but at first light. I write this from my kitchen table surrounded by broken furniture and two dead bodies. I write because I do not know what else to do. Last night I awoke to the sound of my wife uncontrollably sobbing. I knew it would only be a matter of time before her depression broke so I went to go and comfort her. As I neared the stairs I noticed something was odd for her sobs were not brought on by sadness but joy. I feared for her sanity so I rushed downstairs to the living room. There was my wife kneeling on the floor clutching something to her chest. She turned to me and smiled. “My baby has come home to me.” She said in a delirium. It was then that I noticed the blood on her neck.

Nadia’s body dropped limply to the ground and there stood Adina still in her burial dress. Though I recognised her form, the creature standing before me was not my daughter. Her skin was a dull gray and her golden hair had begun to darken. In her mouth were two large incisor fangs dripping with blood. However it was her eyes that told me that something else lingered under skin. My Adina always had beautiful forest green eyes that melted my heart. The demon before me had irisless pitch black eyes that bore into me. These eyes held no light, no love and no soul.

She tilted her head and smiled at me. “Father dearest, I have come home. Won’t you pick me up so I can hug you tightly. I have a special kiss I have been saving for you and mommy. We can be a family again. Just lift me up daddy.” She said to me in a sickly sweet tone. For the first time I can remember I did not give my daughter what she wants, instead I backed into the kitchen and slammed the door.

I simply stared at the door for a moment frozen in fear. I could hear a distinct sound of claws scraping against the wood. Then her horrible voice echoed from the other side. “Silly daddy doors will do you no good since mommy already invited me in.” With that her tiny hand burst through the door and to my horror I could see long claws had tipped her fingers. She began shredding the door as if it was paper, a door that was made of solid elm.

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“Elm!” I shouted into the darkness. I reached around and found a solid slab of wood to defend myself with. That was when the fiend that had once been Adina strolled in. She looked at me then at the wooden stake I clung to. Her eyes lost all playfulness. “That splinter will do you no good. I think I’ve played with you long enough daddy.” She said with not even the faintest hint of affection in her voice. I knew what was going to happen before it did. She reared up and leapt at me like a jungle cat. I moved with grace not common to me and grabbed a dining room chair. I swung my weapon and managed to pin her to the floor. She clawed at the chair sending chunks of wood everywhere. I knew I would only get one shot so I thrust the elm stake directly into her chest. Her movement stopped right as the chair broke sending me on top of her. Perhaps it was air escaping but I thought I heard the words “thank you” echo up from her lungs.

I got off of her and simply sat on the floor panting for several minutes. Finally when it was clear she wasn’t going to rise again I moved myself to the table where I had left my journal and I have remained here since. I know what I must do with the bodies of my wife and daughter but I do not have the strength. When my legs decide they want to work I will go to Father Darius. He will do what needs to be done.

July 12th, 1484

The bodies of Adina and Nadia have been properly dealt with and buried. I wish I could say that was the end of it all but it would seem our hell has just begun. Since the slaying of Adina three new victims have been found, all with their blood drained. Father Darius has seen to the proper arrangements but no funerals will be held. We have lost our taste for them. The secret is out and all the villages are aware of the evil that plagues these lands. As a precaution we have initiated a mandatory curfew for all villagers and no one is to be outside after dark. I pray, to what I do not know, but I pray that it will be enough.

July 20th, 1484

Despite our best efforts to protect ourselves, this evil has proven to be relentless. At night I lie awake listening to the sounds from outside. I can hear these creatures crawling across our rooftops and walls. It would seem as though they are aware that we can hear them and they relish it. I have boarded my windows but I can hear them whispering in the dark. They whisper to be let in at all hours of the night. The fiends know our weaknesses and continue to use them against us. They take on the voice of my wife asking why I didn’t rescue her. They whisper as Adina sobbing and asking why I hurt her. Sleep has become next to impossible and every night those whispers become more and more tempting.

It is not me alone that they torment throughout the night but all the villagers. Last night a mother came out of her home holding her newborn infant in her arms. She offered it as a sacrifice to make the whispers stop. Thankfully her husband and brother were able to drag her inside before the beasts could pounce on her.

We have sent out daily hunting parties trying to find these creatures’ lairs however none have returned from the shadow of the mountain and willing volunteers are dwindling. New settlers come each day looking for land and we are forced to chase them out for their own good. I do not know how much longer any of us can last against this overwhelming darkness. Hope dies a little more each day.

July 26th, 1484

I do not know what faith I hold myself to anymore but if there is a god then he has truly left us. Today at midday an emergency meeting was held to address the curse upon our lands. Many called for us to abandon our homes and to flee. Father Darius stood and said it would be our demise. These beasts can track our scent and without proper homes to keep us safe we would be slaughtered overnight. When we were finished they would venture out in search of fresh blood. We had awoken these creatures and they were our responsibility.

More talk of sacrifice grew but no one was truly willing to follow through. That was when Father Darius spoke once more and his words carried hell itself in them. He spoke of the increase in settlers coming through the forest in search of land and he suggested that we give it to them. He suggested the creation of a new village at the base of the mountain near the creature’s lair. If the fiends had a closer food supply then they would leave our lands alone.

I said that no one would be foolish enough to stay in a village beset by evil. Darius merely nodded and said that they would if they were made to. He would take on the role of priest in the village. The word of God could be used to keep them there if they believed that they were stronger than the beasts. He would provide them the tools to survive while influencing them to stand against the darkness. It may take years, even generations but they could be convinced to stay indefinitely.

I was beyond horrified that a man of the cloth could spew such blasphemy. However my shock and horror reached their peak when others began to support his crazed idea. A vote was taken and I watched in silence as waves of hands raised, seeing this demonic plan through. The vote carried and construction of the new village would begin at once. We all walked home in silence, no one willing to look each other in the eye. There are creatures in the mountain for certain but I now wonder who are the real monsters?

July 30th, 1484

This will be my final entry for I can no longer live with the sin of our community, nor can I resist the temptation of those nocturnal whispers any longer. I bury my journal at the base of what will be the church of this new community. I hope that if there is a god up above that he may show mercy to us who dwell below. I used to believe that evil lies within the hearts of demons but now I know it’s source comes from fear and desperation.

Lord if you are there please watch over us all in this time of darkness. Above all else please watch over the coming members of Satul de Nordcreasta, the village of Northridge.

Credit: Tenac

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