Fourteenth Century, Romania
There was a time when my tormented soul sought the warmth and solace of a tender heart. I desperately yearned to be pulled out from the abominable hellhole into which I was sinking, day after day. And then, the universe conspired for a miracle to happen.
I met Rose. Rose- the tender woman I had fallen in love with had filled my eclipsed existence with infinite iridescence. Love had transformed me in many ways. I flowed with the rhythm of love wallowing in absolute bliss. However, I had failed to foresee the devil’s plot that existed amidst the nascent love that had bloomed between us.
It was a full moon night. The sky was ethereally lit by the luminescence of the moon. Her undulating tresses that resembled the cascading waterfalls bounced flirtatiously with the passing zephyr. She sat on the edge of the windowsill admiring the moon. Myriad hues of red, green, yellow, and blue from the stained glass window reflected light from the moon like a kaleidoscope and danced in exuberance as they touched her radiant skin. The red silk gown that she wore meandered along her curves and flowed down to meet the tiles where her tender feet rested. The ambrosial scent of the honeysuckles wafted across the air, arousing my mounting desire. Her luscious lips ignited a million sparks within me but it was not her blood that I craved for. I just wished to gently kiss her and be transported to the realms of fantasy.
As I walked towards her, drowned in love, she uttered garlanded words that flowed like an elixir, tingling and thawing my frozen blue heart and breathing life into it.
“Every breath of mine whispers thy name
Seeking for a rendezvous during the twilight hours,
Swathed with the hope that thou shalt appear during those caliginous hours
And make me thine for eternity…
But my throbbing heart slowly enervates
With the pain of not knowing when the wait will end,
As fall the leaves, so drop the days,
And the time I dwell on this earth…”
I cupped my hands with instant reflex to catch hold of the few drops of tears that trickled down her cheek. I held on to her with a firm grip as my fingers stroked the nape of her neck.
“No, Rose! Please don’t shed tears. I want to see you smiling, as always,” I told her, embracing her warm skin with my pale, icy fingers.
“Drake! It’s fall now. I see the trees shedding their leaves slowly. But have you ever wondered why they brave the winter despite losing all their leaves?”
“You tell me, dear.”
“Because they thrive with the hope that spring offers them. But for the spring, they all would have shattered and become one with the fragmented dust, blown mercilessly by the wind into a world of nothingness.”
“Rose! I know your eloquent verses are trying to tell me more than what my myopic mind can fathom. Don’t beat about the bush. Lay your words in plain sight so that your overburdened heart can be free.”
“My Love! I know you love me deeply, undoubtedly. But I wish for the kind of love that is eternal. My soul would never rest in peace if I were to leave you too soon. You are immortal. So, I wish to become immortal too. Let it happen, now. You have been stalling this topic for too long.”
“Rose! I think you need a good night’s sleep. Come, let me carry my ladylove and nestle her among the plush satin sheets.”
“Drake, No! Tonight I will not sleep until you answer me. Don’t let the conversation digress now.”
“Rose, Rose, Rose! Now, some things just cannot be explained.”
“You have to.”
“Listen! I love you more than myself. I have never loved anyone the way I have loved you in all these centuries. Being a creature of the dark that devours the blood of the mortals, I have never dared to fall in love with a woman of your kind. But with you, things have been miraculously different; it became irresistible. I fell, really hard for you. My frozen blue heart turned red from the moment I cast my eyes upon you. I can’t imagine a life without you. However…”
“However, what? Go on.”
“I can’t punish you for being in love with me. The excruciating pain would be just unbearable. And the repercussions of the transformation may put your life at risk. It is the hardest and most painful transformation in the entire history. The thirst for blood could change you into something dangerous. Besides, immortality is a curse. I can never be responsible for this, my love.”
“Despite all the pain and risk, don’t you understand that my love for you will remain untarnished? There is light at the end of the tunnel and I’m willing to swim even in a cesspool because of the hope that it offers me- An eternal togetherness with you. It is the only thing I desire. And besides, I will never falter when you are with me. Trust me.”
I remained quiet. She had been stubborn. I knew she wouldn’t take no for an answer. I had never realized falling in love would complicate things to this extent. It seemed strange that a creature like me who could mercilessly suck the blood out from several humans should think so much when it came to the woman whom he loved.
“No Rose! I cannot do it. It would be best for you to love a human instead of me. It was a grave mistake to have let our love blossom to this extent. My obtuse mind got carried away by the transient euphoria that accompanied the blissful state of our oneness. Our love story has to end now, however hard it may seem. You will be happier without me. Go and lead a life just like the other humans do. I am not the one who deserves you,” I said with a heavy heart.
“DRAKE! So, is this your final statement? Will you never change your mind?”
“No! My true love will never let me commit such a heinous act of transforming you,” I replied and turned my face to hide the overwhelming feelings that had engulfed me.
“Very well! Fine, I finally extracted the words out from your mouth. Then here’s my decision. You will never be able to speak to me, feel my breath or hear my heartbeat forever.”
I did not turn back and began descending the stairs. After a while it dawned upon me; “Oh No! What did she just say?”
I rushed back to her, racing against time in a bid to save her. But it was too late. I helplessly stared at her, plummeting down the towering castle and crashing against the unforgiving stone walls.
The whole world seemed to have shattered right before my eyes. Blood gushed out from her like a flooding river. Her lifeless eyes harboring immense pain stared at me.
I screamed at the top of my voice but there was nothing that I could do. Everything happened too soon. I knew that it was just a matter of few hours before her people would come searching for her and take her body away. I would forever be deemed as a vile creature of the dark that had viciously laid a trap to deceive a naive woman.
As I cradled her lifeless body in my arms and cried loudly, I saw a bright ray of light escape from her body. I knew that it was her soul. It was slowly following a predestined path to inhabit a different body. I decided to follow it and find out. I was not sure where it would lead me to but I needed to make sure that my Rose was born again in a place that was no less than heaven.
Flying at the speed of wind I followed the ray of light with bated breath as it traveled a meandering path – through the clouds, across the river, over the mountains, and finally, I saw it enter a window of a cottage amidst the grape farms.
“Aaaah….,” I heard a woman screaming as she was going into labor.
“Exhale and push,” another woman instructed her.
Within moments I heard the other woman exclaim, “The baby shows no sign of life. She’s stillborn.”
As I frantically peeped inside, I saw the ray of light merge with the infant. The baby seemed jolted awake. She coughed and began to cry. The mother was relieved.
My Rose was born yet again. I promised myself to keep a watch on her and protect her from any lurking danger. It was ironic that she wouldn’t remember anything from her past life – a past that had been overshadowed and ruined because of my love.
Her parents named her Aurora. But to me, she was none other than Rose. She had the same angelic blue eyes, lustrous black hair, and velvety skin. Like a shadow, I watched her in secrecy from dusk until the early moments of twilight, making sure no harm came her way. Though I flew back to my castle by dawn, I came back at dusk without fail. I felt guilty for not being there during the day. But sunlight was something I could never be exposed to.
During the times I stayed in the castle, I was always restless, wondering what she would be doing. My mind was forever lost reminiscing about the days with Rose. She was responsible for showing me the flickering light despite all the darkness and savageness that had once consumed me. Like a tender bud, she had bloomed and spread exponentially into a garden within me. Ever since I met her, I had stopped hunting humans to quench my thirst- something that vampires could never resist. They say love has the potential to make miracles happen and that was exactly what had happened to me.
Aurora led a simple life surrounded by people who loved her very much. She was well cared for and was very cheerful. I watched her grow into a beautiful girl. She was as tender as a rose, as pure as snow, and possessed a heart made of gold. And, I was in awe of her voice. I never missed listening to the songs that she practiced every night before retiring to bed. The soulful music seeped in through the pores of my skin filling me with a sense of tranquility.
Time trickled by. Days turned to months and months into years. Aurora blossomed into a dainty woman. I wished for her to fall in love with a human and lead a blissful life. I had decided that once she found the man of her dreams, I would distance myself from her slowly and eventually disappear into the darkest dungeons of my castle, never to come back again. One of the important lessons that I had learned about love was that true love is more about giving everything willingly without expecting anything in return. One might wonder how I could be at peace although she would never become mine. The answer was simple. I could just live forever with the golden memories, and that would be sufficient to provide the required warmth to me for eternity.
One night as I was hearing her mellifluous song, I sensed something different. She was singing more ardently than ever as the lyrics flowed effortlessly from her heart, providing cues that she may have fallen in love. Yes! That was the moment I had been waiting for, all along, weaving dreams for her with bated breath.
The next evening during sunset, I saw her sneaking from the house. I decided to follow her to see where she was going.
I hid amidst the bushes trying to be as quiet as possible and watched her, being enamored by her beauty. She gleefully splashed the water with her feet while the dancing drops fervently yearned to rest for an ephemeral moment on her heavenly skin. I kept repeating to myself that she did not belong to me anymore. Soon, I would have to let go of her. There was someone else in her life now- her lover.
After a while, I heard the sound of hoofs. They seemed to be approaching closer and closer before stopping by the riverside.
It was a Prince- a handsome prince indeed he turned out to be. He seemed to be the right match for her. He came close to Aurora, with his transfixed eyes and enveloped his sculpted arms around her unflinchingly. She closed her eyes and rested her face against his bosom. It was a beautiful sight to behold. I could see from his mannerism that he loved her deeply. I could feel the vibe. As I was about to leave the place, I heard him speak to her.
“Aurora! We have to leave this place as soon as possible. We can’t run the risk of being seen together,” he said.
“Phillipe! Why, what happened? Is the situation very grave?”
“Yesterday, I told my parents that I had been in courtship with a woman. I never mentioned to them that it was you. And…”
“Spill it out. Did they approve of the relationship?”
“Our kingdom is not strong like before. We are under the constant threat of being attacked by the neighboring kingdom. My father feels that the only solution would be to marry the princess of that kingdom. He’s under the belief that it would establish a strong alliance. But I cannot imagine a life without you.”
“He’s probably right.”
“No Aurora! Come what may, I cannot desert you.”
I watched them helplessly. How I wished I could do something about it. I could see the pain in their eyes. Phillipe sounded genuine.
“Aurora! Tonight at ten, please come to our usual meeting place without alerting anyone. I shall bring my horse. We shall flee to someplace far away. I believe that it’s the best thing to do as of now. You are in danger. My father will find out one way or the other and have you imprisoned if you don’t choose to come with me,” said Phillipe.
“Phillipe! I’m not very sure about this. Love has complicated a lot of things for us,” replied Aurora. There was a lot of uncertainty in her tone.
I realized I had to keep a watch over her. She was in danger. I wasn’t sure if Phillipe would be able to handle everything alone.
That night Aurora left home, alone, and went to the meeting place that Phillipe had mentioned. I followed her. Phillipe was waiting for her with a horse. Aurora mounted the horse and as he began to ride, I could hear the galloping of several horses at a close distance.
“Oh No! I guess my father has discovered our plan. We are being chased and we have to hurry,” said Phillipe riding faster.
For a while, I was not sure if I should be guarding Aurora and Phillipe by staying close to them or go after the men who were chasing them. Since I never desired Aurora or Phillipe to discover about my existence, I decided to go after the men.
I lunged at them one after the other and struck them with a hard blow. They became terrified looking at me. Though they were too many, I was far more powerful than them. Finally, when I thought I had tackled everyone, I heard a shrieking sound. I immediately recognized it to be Aurora’s voice. My heart skipped a beat and I ran towards them.
In a fit of rage, I knocked down the king’s man who had somehow escaped from my sight and stealthily targeted a dagger at her. I then rushed to embrace Aurora for the first time after all these years.
Phillipe was shattered by what had happened but terrified when I made an appearance.
“Who… What are you?” he asked me.
“I will explain later. But I’m not here to hurt you,” I said.
“Aurora is battling for her life. She does not deserve to die,” he said in between his sobs.
As I lay her on my lap I could feel her weakening pulse. I cursed myself for not having protected her. Tears gushed from my eyes unstoppably and fell upon her body that was slowly beginning to turn cold. I bent down one last time to kiss her. She opened her eyes with a start and looked at me as though she could recognize me.
“Drake… it’s you! I am your Rose. Now I remember everything,” she said. Her eyes yearned for me.
I was dumbstruck.
“Drake! I don’t have much time. At least now, in this birth, transform me. It is you I want to be with, forever.”
I hesitated. But then, as she took her last breath, I bent down to dig my fangs through the right side of her neck. Her body went stiff and she began to quiver rapidly. I could see her eyes turning red, skin becoming pale. I sincerely hoped that the transformation was not too much for her delicate body to handle.
“What have you done? Who is Rose?” asked Phillipe. He seemed perplexed and lost. Everything had happened in quick succession.
“I shall explain,” I said, and narrated the entire story to him as her body was slowly undergoing the transformation. He deserved all the explanation.
Phillipe did not utter a word. I presumed it would have been hard for him to fathom and digest.
After a few minutes, she opened her eyes. I felt reassured when she smiled at me. She then turned towards Phillipe.
“Phillipe! I know loving me has led to immense pain for you. You shall always bear a special place in my heart but my love for Drake is from time immemorial. Only today, when I almost lost my life, like a flash, the events from my past birth unfolded. Besides, I am not a human anymore,” said Aurora to Phillipe.
“I understand. Aurora, my love for you has always been true. It’s time for me to take leave,” said Phillipe overwhelmed with emotions.
My heart went out for Phillipe. I could feel the pain that was seething through the crevices of his heart.
“Phillipe! Doesn’t it hurt to let go of the woman who means everything to you?” I asked him.
“True love is more about letting go. Though I must admit that it’s going to be very hard, I always wish the best for Aurora. And I know you deserve her more than I do,” he replied.
I thanked Phillipe for understanding and wished him a prosperous future.
After embracing Aurora for one last time he left.
I still could not believe that my Rose was back. I held her in my arms and kissed her passionately.
“I had told you, true love would make the transformation easy. It was you who had hesitated,” she taunted me.
“My Lady! It’s time we go to our castle and celebrate our togetherness for eternity,” I said.
We both flew ecstatically, soaring across the bejeweled night sky. Our throbbing hearts sang songs of melody in perfect resonance. The universe had indeed conspired, yet again.
Picture Credit : Pixabay
This story was first published in Penmancy.