Epilogue de la Première Partie
Gavin was the last one standing. He was hardly recognizable as himself or even as a human for that matter. The dogs had ravaged him severely and I knew they had paid a horrible price for their efforts as they lay whimpering in the grass beyond the threshold of the barn door. I was crouching on the floor of the barn cradling Gabriel's head in my lap. He was nearly gone as was Claire who lay not so very far from us with her blood weeping from the dozens, maybe even hundreds of wounds that were covering her from head to toe.
I was crying openly for the loss of my girls and for my friend Gabriel. He had been more of a brother to me than anything else and I loved him and could not imagine my life without him.
"Please Gavin, please," I begged, "before you finish this see to my dogs; help them from their misery."
It took a long while for my words to register; he seemed to be in some kind of trance or just awakening and becoming sensible of where he was and what he was doing. He surveyed the damage he had done to Claire and to Gabriel. Then Gavin glanced over his shoulder at the helpless forms of Trista and Isolde.
"They fought brilliantly...your girls, I suppose they deserve a good death." He picked up one of the rifles and strode towards them.
As he walked away Claire motioned to me, "Bring him here, it's not too late," she gurgled.
There was something hypnotic in her words and I didn't realize it but I dragged Gabriel to her side and she took her fingertip and swiped at the blood flowing from one of her many wounds. Then she began smoothing the blood over the lesions covering Gabriel.
"Help me," she implored.
And again without thought I began mopping up her blood and dabbing it at the various cuts and scrapes covering Gabriel. To my amazement the wounds began healing; at first slowly, flickeringly, then rapidly as if the process were gaining strength. We were working frantically but then we heard the first of Gavin's shots and knew the second would not be far off.
"There isn't time! Open his mouth," I did and she held her arm to his lips and closed her eyes. I could see the blood oozing from her and into him and instinctively I knew what she was doing. I wanted to stop her; I had to stop her, to prevent her from the profane act she was committing. "Not until he moves! As soon as he moves and not a drop more or it will be too much!" she insisted. "For Vivienne…" she said knowing I loved her just as much and would do anything for the two of them.
I wanted to believe her, was desperate to believe and trust Claire and despite all my inner misgivings could not will myself to push her away.
The second shot fired and a moment later we heard Gavin approaching. Gabriel didn't move, didn't even twitch. Gavin kicked Claire's arm away, "It's too late Cousin! He's gone."
Gavin was right, I was sure of it. There was no breath, no rise and fall of his chest. I laid my ear against Gabriel's torso and there was nothing but silence.
Gavin seized Claire by the hair and me by the throat and dragged us both away. He threw Claire to the ground and with his hand freed gathered up the rifle again. He put the barrel against her chest and pulled the trigger. It blasted a huge opening and dropping the rifle Gavin knelt down then reached into the bloody hole and ripped what was left of her heart out.
With that he turned his attention back to me, "I won't show you the same mercy I showed your dogs!" he latched on, but it was only for a second.
I don't know how it happened but I flew backward a number of feet and into the darkness. I couldn't see anything but I heard what sounded like horrendous blows coming from the direction of the barn. The sound was drawing away, further and further away and before long there was nothing but deafening silence. I strained my ears as I made my way back to the barn. Gabriel was gone. I sat on the steps leading up to the loft and waited and wondered.
An hour passed, two. It started to grow light.
I buried my face in my hands and wept, wept for all that I had lost, for all that had happened and for what I was sure had become of Gabriel.
I looked up and there he was alive and well without so much as a scratch or a blemish on him. "Gabriel?" I leapt down and ran to hug him.
"No, don't!" and he put his arm up stopping me in my tracks. "You mustn't…I…you…stay away Deaglan!" Gabriel moaned.
And as his words tumbled out I realized what was wrong. He wasn't Gabriel any more, at least not the way I knew him. He was one of them - he was a Droch-fhola; a vampire and he wanted to kill me.
Suddenly Gabriel dropped to his knees. His skin started to blister and burn, I thought I could hear it sizzling as the sunlight struck him. I peeled my jacket off and covered his face.
I remembered my mother telling me about the Droch-fhola and how they abhorred sunlight and now I knew why, "The cellars, Gabriel, get to the cellars! There must be one they are not using."
He clutched at the jacket and like a blur raced off in the direction of the vineyards. The farmhands would be rising soon and starting their day and I knew that I, too, needed to get away. I found my way to the clearing I had helped Gabriel makeover for Vivienne's birthday.
"Vivienne," I said and wondered what would become of her.
I was exhausted and curled up beneath the boulder and slept the day away. It was dark when I woke and there was a boot in my face.
"Oui, Deaglan," his voice utterly forlorn. I knew something terrible, something new and terrible had happened. "I am a killer, Deaglan. They have made me a killer and I cannot wait to kill again! I killed the cellar master without thought, without remorse! I drained him like I would a glass of wine and now he is dead and I don't care and I could do it again and again and again!"
He grew silent and the silence wore on and on.
"You could, Gabriel, but you won't. We will find a way…a way around this. I will help you and you will never, NEVER, be like them. You will never kill again. I promise."
Then like the boulder he sat on Gabriel fell into my arms and cried all his sorrows into my shoulder.
"Everything is lost, Deaglan, I had it all and now all is lost."