Monday, April 25, 2016

W is for William

Good evening. I’m Lord William Caerac, the Earl of Caerac. No, I’m no relation to Caerac himself. I used to trail after him, as a little boy, constantly asking questions, whenever I’d see him. I was known as Billy Quick, back in those days. There was no Keep, when I was a mortal child. Or the Keep wasn’t a walled city. It was a part of a castle, where Caerac’s family resided. Long ago, Caerac ran away from his noble mother, to escape a life of monastic scholarship. He traveled with his friends; Gwyneth, Maggie, and Corwyth, but he always came back to see his mother. Corwyth Nevalyn was so pretty, I was half in love with him, even as a child, but I didn’t dare say anything. He was a Nevalyn, as well as a Dragon cleric, so everyone thought the worst of him. It wasn’t true, though. Not in those days. When monsters came attacking the lady’s castle, along with the neighboring village, Corwyth and Caerac protected me. It was Corwyth who gave me a place, with Caerac’s band of adventurers. I managed to kill quite a few monsters myself, when I traveled with them. Actually, I hit a few with a rock, distracting them, so Gwyneth, Maggie, Corwyth, or Caerac could kill them. I wasn’t much of an adventurer, I fear. I listened to Corwyth too seriously to get into hacking and slashing, such as Caerac, Maggie, Gwyneth all engaged in. Corwyth was one of the first people to suggest killing monsters might be wrong, long before anyone else thought so. He used to argue with Caerac and Gwyneth about it. I’d always listen, wide-eyed. As a child, Corwyth seemed like the wisest, bravest, most beautiful person in the world. I didn’t want to leave him, but at Caerac’s insistance, I was sent to his mother. I became the model son she’d always wanted Caerac to be. In doing so, I engendered some peace between Caerac and his mother. Corwyth, in the meantime, retired from adventuring to start building the first Keep, which was a walled city. It was to be modelled after the great cities of old, when the Imperatrix ruled all the lands as one. This Keep would have fountains, a library, and all the trappings of civilization. Its construction began on the ruins of a former imperial city. If only Corwyth hadn’t disturbed the rocks in the old masoleum! Something ancient and undead had been sleeping beneath it, biding its time. It had watched Corwyth, as he tried to revive the old city. It didn’t reveal its presence, until everything was built and the people began to move into Corwyth Keep. I’ve never been sure exactly what happened. My master never told me, not in detail. The wards went up around Corwyth Keep. No one could enter. No one could leave. I had horrible dreams, about Corwyth being dragged before a pale court of lords and ladies with fangs, surrounded by shuffling ghouls, zombies, and wraiths hovering in the air. I woke up, before I could see what happened next. Too late, I discovered that my dreams had been all too real. One night, Corwyth appeared outside my window. I’d always been a little bit in love with him, but the moment I looked into his eyes, I was his. Corwyth took me back to his home, gave me an eternal place at his side. At his side, I saw the beautiful mockery of a city, which Corwyth Keep had become. The undead ruled it, while the humans were their cattle. Anyone who displeased their vampire masters was fed to the zombies, or the ghouls. The bones of those eaten would rise as living skeletons, bound in eternal service. It was terrible. Even though I was a vampire, it was a relief, when Corwyth sent me out in the world. I was to infiltrate Caerac Keep. Wards surrounded us in Corwyth Keep. Time moved differently in the world outside. Centuries had passed, while we ruled within our undead city walls. Caerac himself had founded a walled city, around his former castle, just as his former friend had. There was no mention, or memory of Corwyth, former friend of Caerac in the tales mortals told each other. All they knew of was the vampire Corwyth, who ruled an undead Keep no one could enter. Not that anyone wanted to. I hid what I was, as I watched, learned, and talked to people in taverns, gathering information. For I had the ability to pass myself off as either a commoner, or a lord. Using this deception, I managed to seduce and wed the lady of the Keep, Caerac’s unwary descendant. She lived in a happy state of servitude at my side, completely unaware she was a servant, until her peaceful death of old age. Does that surprise you? My master had taught me to reward faithful service, but my wife taught me the best reward can be a mortal life and a mortal death. I’ve been Lord of Caerac ever since; faking old age, faking death a few times, only to have ‘my son’ return home from his adventures to take my place. That son is in fact me. I’ve watched and listened, but heard nothing from my master. To pass the time, I’ve concentrated on the well being of Caerac Keep and its residents. To my surprise, I’ve come to care about that well being. I even took a little girl in, gave her an education, raised her, as if she was my own daughter. Ylynessa is one of the few people, who knows the truth about me. Currently, she’s posing as my sister. I’m surprised at how happy I’ve become as the secret night lord of Caerac Keep. I drink a little blood from a chosen few, never killing anyone in the process. This is why the recent disturbances in Caerac Keep worry me. People are disappearing, some of them reappearing as bloodless, or half eaten corpses, to be found in alleys. Even worse is when they reappear as the undead themselves, zombies or ghouls. No other vampires have been spotted, yet. I keep thinking about my master. Perhaps these disturbances are signs from him. I hope they’re not. I loved my master, but I also love my home. I don’t want to have to choose between the two. I don’t want Caerac Keep to become like Corwyth Keep. To keep that from happening, I will betray my master, if I must. If I can. 

No comments:

Post a Comment