Broken Promises

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Fantasy Realm

A dark mansion. A moonlit tower. The scent of roses on the air. Is he there? Bitter taste on my tongue. Haste. Haste.




Saretha moved quietly out of the shadows, stepping slowly towards the center of the room. Her tightly-laced bodice constricted her breathing slightly, and so every breath caused her breasts to swell above the low-cut neckline. Tendrils of still-wet hair plastered the sides of her face, and her dress dripped steadily onto the cold marble floors. The rain had stopped, the clouds parting, just as she arrived at the mansion. Moonlight streamed in through the tall casement windows lining the circular tower room, and a single candle burned in a tall candlestick on a table across from the door she had entered through.

"Is anyone here?" Her voice echoed. The room was nearly empty. A large cushioned chair stood next to the table, with a book lying on the seat. Pillars alternated with the windows, set out from the wall in a ring around the room. Anyone could be hiding here. Anything could be hiding here. "My carriage broke an axle, I need shelter. If I could—"

"And where is your driver, your guards?" The cultured male voice came from nowhere, yet everywhere at once. Saretha spun in a circle. She had heard of the master of this castle, a mysterious recluse who lived alone. He must be hiding behind a pillar. "I find it most difficult to believe they abandoned a lovely young woman such as yourself to her own devices. No, you are still a child, are you not? You have seen barely sixteen summers, if I am any judge. Surely your family awaits you below?"

"My eighteenth naming day is next month. Where are you? Will you show yourself, please?" Still turning, Saretha peered into the shadows between the windows. The smell of roses suddenly teased her senses.

"You did not answer me." The voice, almost playful, came from just behind and she spun—no-one was there.

"I—I am alone. My driver could not repair the axle by himself. He left to walk to a farmhouse we had passed only a quarter hour before, but he never returned. When dark fell I saw the lights from your windows—"

"Ah, I see. And so you seek shelter from the dangers of the night." The voice was across the room, she was sure of it. Peering in that direction, Saretha took several steps forward, stepping into a patch of moonlight from a window. "And you have come to me."

"Forgive me, but you sound almost amused." Saretha turned again, her skirts swishing. Did the voice seem to come from back by the door to the stairs at that last? "Why do you hide from me? Please, step forward."

"You should not have come here," the voice breathed in her ear. A body, pressed suddenly against her. Hands grasped her upper arms. She gasped, jerking fruitlessly in an attempt to break away. "There is no safety for you here."

"Let me go!" Saretha struggled in vain, twisting and attempting to break the iron grip on her arms. The man who had spoken held her easily against himself, barely seeming to notice her efforts. Hands like manacles. "If you will not aid me, release me and I will leave!"

“Look at you. Skin white as a dove. Not a single blemish… Have you not heard the stories—" the man's hands slid down her arms and then snaked around her body, still holding her wrists as he forced her to cross her arms— "of lovely young ladies such as yourself disappearing in the vicinity of my home?"

He pressed closer, leaning his chin on her shoulder. Turning her head, she was barely able to see his dark profile against the moon-lit window, but could discern few details. Strong jaw, elegant nose. Hair pulled back tightly. The smell of wine and rose water. Her arms, pulled around her own torso by his unrelenting grip, pressed her breasts even more obviously into view.

"Please, don't harm me. I'll do anything, just let me go!" she begged, praying that he would do what he wished quickly. Praying that he would not draw out her suffering.

"Anything, you say?" He moved his head, slowly, taking time as he turned his face to her neck. He breathed in deeply, the tip of his nose trailing a line from her shoulder, up her throat, to her ear.

"Please…" She trembled both from fright and the chill. This tower room bore no fireplace and her damp clothing seemed to radiate her body heat out and away from herself. The man behind her seemed not to notice the cold.

"I enjoy the way that word sounds upon your lips." He moved his head to her other side, turning his face down to her bared shoulder, trailing his lips across the pale flesh. "Say it again, little dove."

"Please," she whispered, a single tear tracing its way down her cheek. "I have heard the stories, though I did not credit them at the time. I know now what you will do to me. Please, be quick about it and I will not fight you."

"Apples."

Saretha blinked. Apples? What was he—

"Apples and despair. Acceptance. Quite a large amount of fear, but resolve as well." His lips kissed gently as he turned back to her throat. Hips moving against her as he shifted. Another inhalation. "You are well prepared to accept your fate, are you not, little dove?"

“Please…” She swallowed, breaths beginning to come faster. She tilted her head back, baring her throat as he inhaled once more. “Just get it over with.”

“Chamomile. Lavender soap. Heart Thorn.” She froze, and could feel his lips curl into a smile against her skin. “The Hunter sent you.”

She closed her eyes, slumping slightly. She had failed.

“Let me attempt to reconstruct events that have transpired until now.” He rested his chin on her shoulder again, tilting his head slightly as he spoke. “You have little or no money, and work hard to assist your parents to provide for your family.”

“How did you—”

“The callouses on your hands. Do not interrupt me, child.” His mellifluous voice had hardened suddenly, as sharp as broken crystal. His arms tightened, and she gasped as she felt his hard body press more firmly against her. She swallowed, exhaling slowly. “The Hunter approached you. He offered to provide for your family if you perform a task for him. An older man, with a scar—” he raised a hand, finger tracing delicately from the outside of her eyebrow down the side of her face. She nodded. “Do you have siblings?”

“Three,” she breathed.

“And they are all much younger than you, or they would be helping to earn your family’s keep.” She nodded curtly. “Yes, then you felt that you had no choice. Are they starving, or ill? Parents dead or dying?”

Saretha closed her eyes. The light of the moon reflecting off of the polished marble floor had begun to pain her head, and her breathing came faster.

“I suppose it does not matter. And so you accepted his bargain. You would enter my home under false pretenses, and assassinate me with your tainted blood. How long do you have before fate catches you?”

Saretha breathed deeply, attempting to still her quickly beating heart. She knew it was pointless. The Heart Thorn would accelerate her pulse until her heart burst. “Minutes. Perhaps less.”

“I see. I have treated with this Hunter in the past. He often obtains the services of the unfortunate. He offers gold for those that survive, and weregilds paid to families of those that do not.” His head tilted again, regarding her. He had moved enough so that the moonlight now shone onto his face, and she turned slightly to peer at him from the corner of her eye. His unnaturally pale skin caused his dark hair to appear almost inky black in the moonlight. Pale, blue eyes and—he smiled again, and she could not help but stare at his teeth, the elongated canines almost hidden behind red lips. “Though, my attempts to track this Hunter down always fail. You see, he never follows through on his promises.”

“What?” She jerked slightly, though his grip had not slackened enough to allow her to turn. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that your family will never see a penny. The Hunter has most likely already vacated the county. He usually does, leaving well before the attack and only returning once my guard has lessened.” His eyes drifted away from hers, brow furrowing. “He vexes me these past few centuries...”

“No,” Saretha breathed. She began tugging, his iron grip bruising her wrists as she attempted to free herself. “No, no…”

“Oh, do not cry.” He began to rock her back and forth, almost imperceptibly. They swayed in the moonlight, as if dancing. “All will be well. I shall survive the night, and the Hunter will return. He always does. I believe I should begin preparing for his arrival this time—”

She began to sob, gasping for air as her heart began to truly race. She had failed. It had all been in vain. Her family would be put out, and would never even know what had happened to her.

“There is something I can do for you, little dove. Would you seek vengeance? You could assist me—“

“I’ll never join you!” Saretha stilled, fury beginning to override her despair. “You murder innocents to feed your evil soul!”

“Murder? Innocent? I only… dine upon those that trespass or attack me. Mostly I search out footpads and villains in the town. Many of my descendants live there, and I would not see them harmed.” Thumbs began stroking gently along the backs of her hands. “Besides, one could argue that the Hunter—that scoundrel who has sent countless men and women to their deaths at my hands—would be a stronger case for evil than I. I did not choose this. He did.”

Saretha could not deny that his logic was sound, but was he lying to her? It did not matter.

“It does not matter, I will be dead in moments. Find someone else to aid you in your schemes.”

“Then it should not matter to you if I…” Sudden pain as the man twisted his hands, curling his fingers just so— “Speed you to your final fate?”

His unnaturally sharp nails had pierced her wrists, and her blood began draining from her body. She struggled against him, but his grip held her easily. He pulled her arms out so that they were extended to the sides, and the pattering of the blood dripping to the floor battled with her struggling breaths for dominance in the otherwise silent room.

“I offer you a choice,” he breathed. “Accept my gift, aid me, and I shall lift your family from ruination.”

She did not respond. She could not respond. Her legs gave way beneath her, and she folded to the ground. He fell with her, seeming to sit gracefully and cradling her against his chest. He loosed her hands, and she felt fingers trailing across her cheek, her lips.

“You will see them cared for. A house, servants. Everything they could ever want or need. Only after they are settled will you begin to serve me.” He took her chin in his hands, and she struggled to open her eyes. He regarded her with interest. Hunger. Desire. “And you will serve me. Until the Hunter is dead.”

He raised his wrist to his mouth then, biting fiercely. The blood began to flow, much more slowly than her own. Darker than her own, and somehow thicker. Dripping slowly from his wrist as he lowered it to her mouth, cool droplets falling on her breasts, her neck.

“Drink, and accept my bargain. Drink, and all shall be well.”

She stared at the flowing blood. She lifted her gaze to his face. Turning back, she raised an arm that weighed a thousand pounds, and took his hand.

“Until the Hunter is dead,” she whispered.





Submitted: March 04, 2020

© Copyright 2022 C. J. Davis. All rights reserved.

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Comments

SimonClemens

All this talk of a heaving bosom.

Keep that off the main site, will you?

You don't want to scar the children.
-
Jokes aside, this didn't read much as a "horror" to me because the focus was clearly elsewhere from the second sentence onward. More a thriller/Gothic horror because of the aristocratic vampire but not "horror" as I prefer.
Not for me.

Fri, April 24th, 2020 6:46pm

Author
Reply

Eh, the heaving bosom was meant to be stylistic, but my follow-through was a bit lackluster. The idea is that she's trying to entice him, and I tried to write it a bit corny on purpose. Didn't work out, as you've noticed.

Thanks for the feedback!

Sat, April 25th, 2020 7:12am

Vance Currie

In case nobody has told you before, KD, you are a very good writer. Easy to read, no distractions, and just enough description to set the scene and carry the story forward. As for the story, I like a good paranormal mystery, and this one fits the bill admirably. I am not so interested in the blood and guts kind of horror story, so I usually avoid the 'horror' genre. But what you said in a recent forum post reminded me so much of my own personality and upbringing (except I am not a girl and I must be a million years older than you) that I wanted to see what kind of a writer you are. You didn't disappoint me.

Mon, July 20th, 2020 10:35pm

Author
Reply

Thank you! I try to emulate my favorite writers, and have listened to some books on my commutes multiple times in order to try to learn what they do that makes them so great. I'm glad to hear I'm improving.

Thank you very much for the kind words. You've brightened my day :D

Mon, July 20th, 2020 4:22pm

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