Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Perfect Silence of the Night - Episode 3

This is Episode 3 of the story of the vampires Vipunin and Cuchulain as they haunt the forests of Tuscany. Read the previous episodes in the two earlier posts.

Midnight was approaching.
The ground fog sparkled silver in the moonlight.
The moonlight was so bright that the clearing had colour – soft green grasses and graceful heads of sleeping flowers. 
Sibon and Ciassia were enjoying their feast. The cheese and bread were finished, leaving just one bottle of wine to be shared.
Sibon held the squat bottle in its straw basket while he slid the blade of his knife along the bottle’s neck and slowly eased the cork free. He tossed the cork aside and inhaled the fruity freshness of the wine.
‘Ah Ciassia, chianti! The smell is divine! Here, my love. Taste.’
They clinked their cups together.
After his first sip, Sibon said, ‘This bottle is to be our nuptial wine. It comes from my father’s ch√Ęteau.'
'How does it differ from the wine we bottle, Sibon?'
 'We have the same grape on our vineyard, and our slopes are in a sunnier position, but my father’s cellars are much larger and older. His grapes are grown on wild trees, not the tended vineyard which he laughingly calls a ‘new fashion.’ Yet there is no doubt his wine tastes truer.’
Ciassia lifted the goblet and saw that the wine was burgundy-dark, semi-opaque. She let the liquid swish around her mouth. She tasted fruit and freshness. She closed her eyes and she could imagine the suns of many summers warming the grapes on the Tuscan hillsides.
‘This wine is glorious, Sibon. It is a fitting toast to our marriage.’

Sibon sipped his wine, thinking how wondrous it was to have his new wife to himself for a change, even if it meant escaping in the middle of the night like some creature of darkness.

The lovers relaxed, letting the wine mellow their mood. Sibon touched Ciassia’s shoulder and she leaned into him, sighing with happiness. They were quiet for a time, enjoying the perfect silence of the night.

‘Hmm, this wine is so good, Sibon. If your vin bourru from this harvest does so well, your reputation will spread beyond the Tuscan hills. Your chianti will find itself on the best tables in Rome.’

‘That is a fine idea, my love, but I will have to better the Bishops, abbots, monks and priests who’ve all decided to plant a vineyard .’ He leaned back against the basket and chuckled.

He enjoyed the sight of the soft grasses edging the green forest, the play of light on the leaves.

It was after midnight. Sibon refilled their cups then lay the empty bottle aside. He looked into the sky. High cloud formed a film across the horizon, showing the full moon haloed in rose against the cobalt-blue sky. The scene was perfection, so perfect that he felt a frisson of fear.
He crossed himself.

He looked to the woman lying relaxed by his side, sipping her wine.

He should feel happy, full of joy at the end of the harvest. What a harvest it’d been! A satisfied smile played on his face. Relax. Ah, life was good.

The air became strangely cool. He had just reached for a wrap to place over his wife when a voice called from the edge of the forest. He jumped to his feet, on guard, knife in hand. Ciassia rolled aside, yelping in pain and fright.


The voice rasped through the night mists as if darkened by damp. To Sibon the voice sounded like it came from a deep well of pain. Ciassia looked around in fright.
Shadowy figures leapt through the darkness, flying over the soft grasses.
Sibon saw two of them, creatures of the night, and knew fear.
Black clouds had rolled over the moon and the stars were smothered.
The vampire, Vipunin, a menacing figure with his black flowing hair and cloak billowing behind, loomed over the humans. Cuchulain, his brother, glided above the misty grasses, head thrown back, ready to strike.
Sibon clutched Ciassia to his breast. She moaned in fear, hiding her face in her husband’s chest.
Sibon looked from face to face of the night creatures. He knew of these monsters, had heard the stories of the immortals, but he was not did you fight these beasts?
His fingers spasmed over his knife handle. He knew he only had one chance to save Ciassia. He knew which evil being was the greatest threat. He knew which one had called his beloved’s name…
Vipunin's black eyes began to rim with red...


Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Perfect Silence of the Night – Episode 4

The Perfect Silence of the Night – Episode 4

The night belonged to the vampire Vipunin.

He landed at the edge of the blanket, eyes rimmed red, head thrown back, every muscle taut. Cuchulain was right beside him, ready to strike.

The male and female crouched in fear, Sibon clutching the knife, Ciassia hiding in his arms.

Vipunin scorned the knife in the human’s hand.

‘You would hurt me with that, human? Knives will do me no harm, unless you can slice off my head, but that weapon won’t be up to the task. A wooden stake would serve you better.’ His laugh echoed through the glade, giving Sibon and Ciassia chills.

Losing patience, Cuchulain stamped on the ground sending tremors through the glade.

‘What would you have me do, brother Vipunin? You promised me the woman.’

Sibon and Ciassia looked from vampire to vampire, terror marking their faces. The knife fell from Sibon’s nerveless fingers.

‘That was before I knew, Cuchulain.’

‘Knew what, brother?’

‘Do you see this pair? Look!’ He grabbed Sibon by the shoulders and shook him. ‘Who do you see in this man?’

‘Well…brother! He mirrors your look. Here in the night light he could be mistaken for you.’

‘Exactly. I need to solve this mystery.’

‘But brother, I am so thirsty,’ Cuchulain whined.

‘Go into the forest and hunt. Go.’

‘No. There is trickery afoot tonight. I don’t trust these humans. You need me here. I will wait.’

‘Well, stand and behave.’

Vipunin turned to the humans. The male had risen and stood erect, his hand still holding the female’s. It was obvious he would not give up his life or that of his woman without a fight. That’d be interesting, Vipunin thought.

Vipunin put a cold hand on the woman where she lay prone, a white statue, terror in her eyes. She shrunk from his tentative touch.

Vipunin leaned closer. Here she lay before him - his betrothed - looking remarkably unchanged from his last sight of her.


He held out an arm. When she cringed, he put forth his hand and drew her to her feet. She did indeed feel like a flesh and blood creature though her hand was as cold as his. The man made to follow, but Vipunin pushed him back onto the blanket where he sat with Cuchulain circling him, fangs bared, eyes fiery red.

‘Take your filthy hands off her, vampire,’ Sibon growled.

‘I’ll deal with you later, Pretender. Cuchulain, restrain him.’

Eagerly Cuchulain stepped forward, slapping Sibon down with a blow from his stone-like hand.’

Ciassia turned to Sibon with a cry of distress, but Vipunin spun her round to face him.

‘Leave him Ciassia. It is I who need you now.’

‘How is it that you know my name?’ Ciassia demanded.

He rasped again, ‘My God! You do not know?’

‘God?’ she mocked him, standing tall, although her voice quivered with fear. ‘You, a vampire? An evil creature? You dare call on God? What God have you?’

‘You speak truth. I have no God that would lay claim to me now, but that’s another story. How can you be here? Now? In the flesh? Does your heart beat beneath your garments?’

‘You can see for yourself, I live’ Ciassia replied, defiant.

‘If you truly lived,’ he shook his head, confused, ‘you’d be centuries old. Tell me the truth of your appearing before me as you were in our golden days, those blessed days when we were to wed.’

‘Ah, Lord Vipunin, so it is you. I see it now. So the stories spoke truth. The explanation is simple. You are legend.’

Vipunin looked at the woman before him, lost for words. "Legend?' he rasped. 'How can this be?' He gazed at the heavens as if seeking the truth he needed.

But the heavens had darkened. Were turning as red as his eyes.

Could he resist this pair?

If he had a God he would call on him now.



Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Perfect Silence of the Night – Episode 5 - #fridayflash - Final episode

The Perfect Silence of the Night – Episode 5

Vipinun stared hard into the female's eyes, his own eyes as black as the night had become.

‘How can all this be so? How do you know me?’ Vipunin asked.
‘I am descended from a long line of Ciassias of the family of Bernardoni from Gaiole in Chianti. You would be the grand lord who betrayed my ancestor in the week before her marriage to you.’
‘What do you know of this? How do you have the shape, the hair, the voice of my beloved? What are you? Some angel? Some shape changer? Tell me now!’ he growled, his face close to her's.
 ‘It is as I say, my lord, I am descended from the lady you so cruelly wronged those many years ago. Your legend has been passed down through the generations.’
‘What legend?’ he barked.
‘Oh, of the Great Immortal Lord Vipunin. It says that one harvest night you disappeared from your chateau. You disappeared from the face of this earth, seduced by some Titan-haired goddess who arrived uninvited to join your harvest feast.’
‘So that’s what they say, is it? And why did I run away? What say the legend of this?’
‘Legend says you were bewitched by the goddess of the night people, the Queen of the vampires who wander our earth, taking humans as they will for their own base needs. Legend says you became one of them.’
She looked at him - his blazing eyes, his tall, imposing figure, his rippling waves of black hair – she looked at him and she knew him. She shivered. He was Sibon in vampire form.
The legend stood before her – with the appearance of humanity but she knew he was no longer a man, he was a monster.
‘Do you kill humans, Lord Vipunin?’ she whispered in her steeliest voice. ‘Are Sibon and I going to die this night to give you the succour you need?’
‘Why do you speak of these things? Are you not afraid, Ciassia? Earlier you shook with fright, yet now the way you speak, you are so coolly unafraid. Why is this? You should be afraid.’
Ciassia trembled, but asked, ‘And why is that, my Lord? I have the cross of my most high Lord Christ. See?’ She held it aloft, its jewels sparkling in the night light.
Vipunin jumped back with a terrible Aaarrch sound, his time to be afraid, to tremble in the face of that cursed sign. He was dimly aware of Cuchulain’s growl and Sibon's triumphal applause.
‘Yes,’ Vipunin's voice shook, sounding like it had its source in the fires of hell.  ‘I have seen evil...I have partaken in evil...I have seen the dead rise and drink the blood of the still-living. No God can save me. Only curses rain from heaven on us - vilest of creatures. Yet cross or nay, you should tremble if you value your life.’
‘Of your many supernatural gifts, cannot you read my thoughts then, Vampire Vipunin? If you could do so you would know my desire is to run, run through the forest, scream to the night to save me from such as you.’
‘Then why don’t you run then, Ciassia, why do you stand before me so defiantly?’
‘Because I know I cannot outrun a night creature. And because I can read your mind, Vampire, it’s in your face. You don’t mean to kill me, or drink me - you are making other plans.’
‘And what would they be, my Ciassia?’ he whispered menacingly.
Ciassia blushed.
The moonlight rained down.
‘I wonder what it must be like for you, my Lord Vampire Vipunin, after all you’ve seen and done, after all these centuries of existence?’

It seemed that even the air held its breath, waiting for Vipunin to answer.

He needed the cool, the dark, the perfect silence of the night.
He needed to change the subject.

‘I have had enough!' he shouted to the heavens, waving his fist at a God he could not see, yet Who he knew saw him in all his vileness.

Both the humans jumped in alarm at the change in atmosphere, the gathering danger.

Vipunin pointed his finger at Sibon, who was still trying to escape Cuchulain's clutches. 'Who is this man?' he called to the night, his voice reverbering from the trees. 'Why does he have my look, my cast?’
‘He has the name Sibon Vipunin Castellina.’ Ciassia said quietly, looking to where Cuchulain had Sibon restrained with an arm around her poor darling’s neck, his fangs all too close to Sibon's lifeblood.

Vipunin’s unbeating heart tightened in his breast. So this was the progeny of his brother’s line. His brother who had lived to become the next Lord, to take his, Vipunin’s vines, his castles, and then even his woman.
What lived in the mask of the man become vampire still craved that life for himself. He smote his breast with his arm, his cry of anguish echoing through the grassy glade.

‘So you, Ciassia, and this inheritor of my grapes, are living the life I would have lived if I had not died?’
Ciassia nodded.
He leaned closer, ignoring her sharp intake of breath and the way she shrunk into herself. He noticed she held the cursed cross in both hands, across her chest, as if it were a shield. 

His eyes lingered on the peachy creaminess of her skin, the flush of her cheeks, the softness of her eyes - Oh my Ciassia, he whispered, his lips unmoving.
He stepped closer, taking her by the shoulders and crushing her to himself. He smiled grimly when he heard Sibon's gurgled yelling. Not so triumphant now, he thought.
Vipunin ran his head up and down Cassia's delicious neck, licking, smelling, enjoying her fearful intake of breath and her frantic clutching for her cursed cross which now was just an annoyance, sticking his breast.
He smelled her human-ness – the salty flesh, the pulsing blood beneath her soft skin. She was his - to kill, to torment, to feed upon. That first taste would heal all the places within him that were so cold and dead. He would taste life, or a shadow of it. He would revive - for a time.
He growled.
He felt his eyes changing, his fangs growing.
He kissed her neck, not tenderly, but frantically.
He ran his fingers through the silk of her golden hair, drawing back her head, exposing that creamy throat with its pulse pumping its warm blood through her body. He felt his whole body jerk with tension. He drew her neck closer, wiping his fingers across the pumping pulse, feeling its throb. He lowered his face into Ciassia's defenceless flesh, his iron grip forcing her closer, closer, then made to puncture the tender spot.
Just one delicious bite.
He would change her - keep her for eternity - his to do with as he willed. Like him, she would never grow old.
He ignored Cuchulain's protesting yowls growing louder and louder.
There is no honour amongst vampires, Cuchulain. You should know that by now, brother.
He would do what he wanted.
He was the Great Immortal Vipunin.
Ciassia was his.
Suddenly he was aware of her cries. It was how he had imagined his Ciassia would have cried the night he disappeared and for many nights after. Their love had been so strong. He never imagined they would be parted. He never imagined he would bring her pain.
He could not do it again. He could not hurt this Ciassia after all. There was some leftover shred of humanity in him yet.
It would be like drinking his lover and himself.

I am haunted by humans, was his last thought as he grabbed the yowling Cuchulain and disappeared into the forest - two cloud shadows under a cobalt-blue sky, looking for prey.