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Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:35 am
Posts: 4
Post Homecoming
Nathaniel stepped off the coach; pulling his cloak tighter he nodded a thanks to the coachman. Dashing under a veranda to avoid the rain he was surprised at how quiet the street was, even for a rainy day. He shook his head a little; maybe he was just expecting them to be in a more festive mood for his sister’s coming of age celebrations. From his mother’s last letter it sounded like it was going to be a big event.

Taking a better look around, he was surprised at how little had changed in the five years he had been absent. He smiled at the memory of his sister, pigtails and all arms and legs, from his mother’s last description she was now quite a beauty. Walking in along, trying to stay undercover, he looked up at a sign he knew well and smiled, he hoped to get answers here.

Pushing the door open to the Roaring Lion, he nodded at the barkeep and gave him a big smile.
“René, good to see you.” The keep looked over at him in surprise and then came around the bar to give him a hug.
“Good to see you lad.” He paused and searched his face for something. “Are you home for the party?” he asked quietly. Placing an arm around his shoulder “Come and have a drink on the house.” And guided him over to the bar and then went behind it and poured them both a drink. Nathaniel watched other patrons enter, they all looked at him warily. René said something.
“Sorry, I missed that René,” he looked at back to the barkeep.
“Have you heard from your mother lately?” Nathaniel paused for a second.
“About two months back, why?” René paused and leaned over the bar and whispered.
“Take a room.” Nathaniel raised an eyebrow, but trusted his old friend enough to follow his advice.

As René led him up the stairs, Nathaniel felt the eyes of the other patrons on his back. When René opened the door, Nathaniel walked in and René followed and closed the door behind them.
“No one has had any contact with the manor for the last month. Strange noises have been heard for the same period,” René paused. “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this. The mayor has quarantined the house and has cancelled the civic events for Bethany’s birthday. He has also been turning away guests.” Nathaniel swore.
“Has the house been checked out?” he asked.
“The mayor sent some guards out, but they were sent away from the house by a sickly looking maid, that was about 6 weeks ago.” He paused again. “It was after that that all contact ceased with the manor. If you want to visit it yourself, you’ll have to clear it with the mayor and best to do that tomorrow.” Nathaniel sunk onto his bed, head in his hands.
“Does anyone know what they had? Are they all dead?” René shook his head sadly.
“Do you want me to bring your meal up here?” Nathaniel nodded.
“Yes, I don’t think your patrons like me.”
René smiled. “No, actually I think it is the robes, no one thought you’d stick it out being a cleric.” René headed towards the door. “Can I get you anything else?” Nathaniel shook his head.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Rising early the next morning Nathaniel watched the dawn from the veranda of the Lion. René came out soon after and handed him a warm cup of mead. Nathaniel took it.
“At least it has cleared up,” René spoke. Nathaniel shrugged.
“So how early do you think I should visit the mayor?” He paused and looked at René. “Who is the mayor?”
“Dugal.” Was his reply. Nathaniel raised an eyebrow at the answer. “Nobody else was interested.” Nathaniel downed the drink and gave the cup back to René.
“I think I’ll go and see him now.”

Nathaniel knocked on the door of the mayor’s house. A maid answered the door.
“How may I help you Milord?”
“I’d like to see the mayor.” He spoke softly.
“Who may I say is calling?” giving away her recent arrival in the village.
“Master Nathaniel of the Manor House returned from studies.” The maid’s face paled and asked him politely to enter and showed him into a sitting room.
“I’ll go and get him, would you like refreshments?” He nodded as he paced about the room and finally took a seat in a high backed chair. The mayor entered the room a few minutes later, in his dressing gown. He gave a weak smile to Nathaniel as he took a seat.
“How may I help?” he asked not quite stuttering.
“You quarantined the manor house, yes?” the mayor nodded. “Six weeks ago, and you have not conducted a second inspection?”
“A maid who informed us of the sickness said we would be notified when the sickness had passed.”
“Did you contact the local clergy to come and clear up the problem?”
“No,” the mayor said guiltily. Nathaniel thanked the maid as she brought in the refreshments. He poured himself a cup of coffee and rested in his seat.
“Have you turned many guests aside from the expected gala?”
“No, not yet.” The mayor began to shift in his seat, showing how uncomfortable he was with this subject. “We expect them to begin arriving in the next few days.” Nathaniel stood up and placed his cup on the table.
“Thank you for your help Dugal, I hope to see you later with some good news and a lifting of the quarantine.” He paused. “Don’t get up, I can find my own way out.”

The walk out to the manor house took about an hour, when he arrived he noticed that the gardens were over grown. He walked to the front door and knocked. The sound seemed to echo through the house. No one answered. He knocked a second time, but there was still no answer. He pulled a key from his pouch and unlocked the door. He tried to open it but it was jammed shut. He walked around to the side of the house to the servant’s entry. The door was unlocked but also wouldn’t open. A window nearby showed him that a chair was wedged under the handle. He kicked the door with all his might. Both door and chair crashed inward.

The kitchen was in shadow and a wave of putrid smelling air struck him. Dust covered the furniture and unwashed dishes littered the sink and benches. Walking into the room, he noticed that the kitchen was covered in blood, dried pools on the floor and splatter on the walls. It was like someone had slaughtered an animal, but could see no sign of a corpse. He held a piece of his cloak over his mouth and nose and walked through to the dining hall. The drapes were pulled shut and as he stepped in he heard crockery break underfoot. He made his way over to where the drapes were and flung them open.

The light spilled into the room and shone through the dust in the air. The room was completely destroyed. The table was broken, the chairs had no seats and the crockery, glassware and cutlery were strewn over the floor. In the corner where not much light reached he saw the outline of a shoe. He went over and found the corpse of the stable hand. He dragged him by the foot into the light. Nathaniel recognised the wound that had killed the boy. Half his throat had been torn out. Nathaniel hissed and dropped the body. He grabbed a candelabra, lit it and headed upstairs.

Entering his parents’ room he found them both dead in their bed, lying as if they were asleep. Except that their faces showed the horror they saw at their death and they throats had bite marks. He closed their eyes and pulled a blanket over them. He said a short prayer before he continued to his sister’s room. The door was ajar.

He pushed it open with his foot and saw utter chaos. A body lay on the bed face down; he raced over and turned it over. He stared straight into the eyes of a dead maid. He performed similar rites on her as his parents before he searched his sister’s belongings. Amongst it all he found a small leather bound book. He flicked through the pages and saw that each page was dated at the top. He held it tightly as he walked out of the room and went to his own. He opened the door. This room was the worst of all. Everting had was ripped, smashed or broken into small pieces. He sorted through the mess and managed to salvage a few items from the carnage. He took these as well and then headed back down stairs to his father’s study.

Of all the rooms in the house, this one was almost undisturbed. A few things had been ripped or thrown to the floor, but nothing like what he had seen upstairs. He sat down at the desk and placed the items he had gathered in front of him. It wasn’t much considering what had been destroyed. While he looked over his hoard he noticed a group of portraits, they were of his family. The young woman he assumed must be his sister. His mother had been right, she was a beauty, but where was she?

Taking the small journal he began to read through it. To begin with it covered nothing overtly out of the ordinary, until he reached a date around the time of his mother’s last letter. It mentioned how Bethany had met a gentleman bard at a friend’s party. The following entries covered how they had met in secret at night. He read furiously hoping she would give his name, but it never occurred. He flicked through the pages and found the last entry. It was around the time of the mayor’s guards visiting; it read.

I have never felt so alive, his voice is like an angel’s, I could listen to for eternity. He has promised to give me an early birthday present tonight. I am so excited that I can hardly contain myself. But I must mama is beginning to suspect something. I can hear him now calling my voice.

Nathaniel knew what had transpired. He closed the book and placed everything he had collected as well as the pictures into his bag. He then whispered a short prayer to give him the strength to deal with what had to come next.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

He waited for her to return. To pass the time he concentrated on conserving his strength and keeping a clear purpose. It was on the day of her birthday she returned. He heard her before he saw her. She entered the study with the grace of an elegant lady and was dressed accordingly. It was her face that betrayed her. She smiled.
“Brother dear, so nice of yo to come and celebrate my birthday with me.” She walked over. She came even closer. She stopped about three feet away when she noticed him holding his holy symbol in his fist and flew into a rage.
“How dare you come here and try to hurt me. You promised to protect me Nathaniel. You said you’d keep me safe.” She sneered at him. “Well, you failed.” She laughed hysterically and tried to strike him, but he dodged out of the way.
“I am sorry.” He replied calmly.
“Sorry, he says he’s sorry.” She paused. “He lies, he’s not sorry, just like mama and papa weren’t sorry. But I made them sorry.” Her eyes gleamed with insanity. “I’ll make you sorry too.” She struck him again, scratching his face. She licked the blood off her fingers.”
“You taste sweet, brother. Sweeter than anyone else I have tasted.” She tried to grapple him to the floor, but he was too fast. Instead he pinned her.
“What was his name?” she snarled at him and tried to strike him. Nathaniel repeated the question. She responded again in kind, but this time broke free. She danced out of reach and replied in a singsong voice.
“His name is mine and mine alone.” She smiled. “Kiss me brother, I came of age today.” She walked towards him. Her innocent eyes gleamed in the partial light. She looked vulnerable. Nathaniel smiled in turn.
“Happy Birthday Bethany.” And extended his arms, she ran and embraced him.
“I am glad you are here. I have been so lonely.
“I know,” he patted her hair as her drew a wooden blade and stabbed her in the back. She screeched in surprise and her eyes filled with anger and pain.
“I am sorry,” Nathaniel whispered as he caught her and held her as she died.
“Happy Birthday Bethany, may you finally find peace.” He removed the blade and closed her eyes. He recited a short prayer over her body and carried her up to her room and laid her on her bed.

René looked at his friend, he had returned from the manor a changed man. The fire had burnt long into the night and had lit the sky like the sun. Nathaniel had watched stone-faced as the manor turned to ash. He turned and began to leave. Dugal stopped him.
“Are you sure you want the estate and land to go to the village?” Nathaniel nodded as he kept walking.
René caught up with him on the edge of town.
“Where will you go?” Nathaniel replied as he kept walking.
“I have his name now, where ever he goes I’ll find him. I’ll hunt him down like the vermin he is.” René stopped and watched Nathaniel walk off. He shook his head sadly and walked back toward the town.

Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:37 am
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Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2004 7:56 pm
Posts: 3479
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Post Re: Homecoming
Not bad at all. I'm a sucker for good vampire-hunter stories. :twisted:

My only critique/suggestion would be to perhaps flesh out the change from grapple and blows to a loving, trusting embrace even though Bethany clearly saw his intent upon noticing the holy symbol. Is it a feet and distracted mind that makes her emotions flit so quickly? Boredom and loneliness? Or an unconscious desire to have him complete his mission and put her to rest? Without a bit more, it seems too quick of a dramatic change.


Christopher Fiss
W.A.R. SysOp

Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:06 pm

Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:35 am
Posts: 4
Post Re: Homecoming
Thanks for that.
This piece was originally part of a back story for a dnd character, that unfortunately never got played. So it became a short story that I have been trying to refine. I considered expanding it, but I just can't channel him anymore.


Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:54 am
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Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2004 7:56 pm
Posts: 3479
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Post Re: Homecoming
Yeah, definitely had the DnD Backstory feel, not that it's a bad thing at all. :) Some of the more memorable characters I've created started as random characters in GURPS or DnD that I thought were kinda cool.

If you wanted to refine this, or use it in the future, but can't quite wrap your head around the character again, I'd recommend having this story form a "long past" event, and therefore you can run with a new group of characters, situations, etc, perhaps with Nathaniel as the original creator of a guild of monster hunters/clerics/etc. Even just having this as flavour for a future story makes it more than worth the time you worked on this. Anyway, good job. :D


Christopher Fiss
W.A.R. SysOp

Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:22 am
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