Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The Vampire's Ball: Act 3
The Vampire's Ball:
Nicoli Eripmav came to this small town a quarter of a century ago. He appeared suddenly and mysteriously one misty and brisk autumn night. It was not long after his arrival that he came to occupy the Brandywine Manner, the plantation home of wealthy widower Thomas Weane. Weane sold his family home late that month for reasons unknown, but most of the populace was well aware of his affection for gambling. He was especially fond of card and parlor games. Some say he owed more than his soul was worth, others whispered about an affair with a lonely spinster who died under mysterious circumstances, a case that remains unsolved to this day.
Nicoli was rich beyond comprehension. He refurbished the mansion, making it the most majestic and architecturally ornate in the entire city. He was the most generous man as well, donating millions over his time as a citizen of the community, building the town its square, a new jailhouse, and school. He gave liberally to local law enforcement as the depressed economy of the last decade spawned a surge of petty crimes to dangerous theft. A new steeple for the church, cemetery, and meeting place were just his last few acts of charity. The simple townsfolk adored him and deeply respected his words and wisdom. They were so intoxicated by his open coffers that upon noticing his repeated absences during most daytime happenings, the council, with unanimous support from its votes, moved all of its parades and celebrations to the evenings to facilitate his nocturnal schedule. Or maybe it was the mere fact that void of his apparently limitless bankroll none of these said events would even have occurred.
Nicoli had no wife, or children, he was alone, living in the Manor with an exuberant amount of empty, expensively decorated rooms. Those who had the privilege of visiting this magnificent estate often wondered why? Why a man who seemed to have everything was so very isolated, surrounded only by the cold company of soulless possessions. Many suitors called on him, but none accomplished more than a pleasant evening that included a grand tour of the vast estate, English tea, and veiled conversation. It seemed the polite but secretive gentleman had little or need for romance.
But recently, the usually calm and reserved lord was enthralled in a war of words and actions with the owner of the dilapidated, unsanitary, unwanted local orphanage. Despite his best efforts to pour needed money and assistance into the facility, the cold and callous Vladimir refused his generosity at every offering. Even when Nicoli brought wanting parents into the establishment in the hopes of adopting some of the unfortunate offspring, Vladimir made it as tedious and uncomfortable as possible for both the adoptees and their potential parents. Many simply walked away, while few battled until they were able to wear the old curmudgeon down and finally rescue their choices from the sorrowful habitat.
But with the sheer numbers of poor and lost children every victory seemed eclipsed by the weight and volume of the continuous sadness hiding in every corner, with its tears staining every floor and wall board saturating the air with desperation. Nicoli swore he would find a way to take possession of the orphanage and would do so at any cost. It was the first and only time the stale souled Vladimir feared anyone or anything.
Then two young girls became the newest inhabitants of this earthly purgatory. Just a couple of small, insignificant scurrying rats cloaking themselves in the darkness of night to rummage through the dankest of corners for the tiniest scraps to fill their empty aching bellies. Their loneliness and hopelessness haunting the dusk as it whispered through the cold, damp wind. He felt them immediately, their quiet but constant agony and futility of their existence. It tormented him in the silence, filling his mind and heart with a heavy, piercing pain. He knew they were destined to become part of his family, to take their rightful position as his only daughters. He knew it more than he knew himself.
The years, decades of empty wandering through the hollow halls of time would finally end. The isolation and meaningless of his never-ending agelessness would be now be occupied by the warmth and light of fellowship and compassion. It has been an eternity of quiet desolation now suddenly interrupted by the sweet song of companionship. They needed his support and mentoring as much as he needed their mere presence. The vibrancy of their life would illuminate the tomb of his, resurrecting a soul long abandoned and forgotten.
After he had brought them home, freed from their bonds and torment, not one single soul complained despite their outrageous disdain for the two annoying urchins. No one would dare chance offending or angering this powerful and benevolent spirit. For if they did, if he left, this town would indeed die a swift and merciless death.
It took weeks for him to nurse them back to health, the toll of their torture and shame taking great pleasure in ravaging them down until only the faintest of heartbeats remained. Each morning his team of attentive nursemaids brought them their meals, each with a crystal chalice of the sweetest nectar either had ever enjoyed. It was as if composed of every flavor existing all at once in a beautiful menagerie of color, texture, and taste. With each sip, they found renewed strength of body and mind. Their physical wounds healed quickly, but their spirit took longer to mend, nearly broken under the oppression of the hate and callousness of the town’s people.
No one was innocent; they were all guilty of the scars of scorn now etched deeply into their bruised hearts. But as each season passed, thanks to the compassion and salvation of their new benefactor, they found something they thought would elude them the rest of their days. They found the one thing that meant more than warmth, breath, time, or treasure. He gave them a gift that no one else ever thought of offering.
Little did they realize, how much more he had imparted to them? How life would never be the same, even by its own definition.