Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#1
Berenice nodded her head in agreement and followed behind her brother and their guest towards the main hall. Despite the young mortals meekness she certainly possessed many of the qualities of a noblewoman, a birthright that Vezina had yet to truly fulfill. Though she knew it would only be a matter of time, already she had begun to make insinuate herself among the high clans of the court. The diablerie of the warlock was another step in many she would take to fulfill her birthright.

Vezina's mind slowly began to wander as she was gallantly led into the main hall of her host's manor in Lambeth. Even as she sat down and listened to the small talk of her mortal hosts it continued to drift. Such unimportant matters were of little interest to one such as she. The brief time she had spent as an undead queen of the night slipped before her eyes as she traveled back through time. The journey across the sea, the attack on her master's caravan, all the way back to the months before they had even left.....


Suddenly her eyes flapped open on something she would never see again, the dim light of a winter sun shining on a small game trail far below. A thorn tore at her shoulder, sending a droplet of blood coursing down her arm. Despite the unpleasant feeling of pain she did not react. Kneeling in the brambles somewhere nearby was the master's brutal servant, Scorylo.

Scorylo had gathered a handful of the best archer's from her master's herd the previous morning and driven them to this spot on the edge of her master's lands. It could mean only one thing as he commanded them to hide among the brambles and not make a sound. She was to aid in an ambush of the foreign soldiers under the black cross. To ruin her master's plan would only invite pain of an unimaginable sort to befall her. Unending torture in what was commonly known as the pit of despair deep beneath the earth of her master's castle.

She had been down to the depths once before to deliver food to those who had found displeasure in her master's eyes. The unceasing moans and screams of the tormented souls seemed to come from the damp earth itself. Every room she passed brimmed with some new horrid sight. Once strong men and women twisted and bent into unimaginable shapes by their abuses, and the ever-present scent of blood that had soaked the soil to the very roots of the mountain itself.

The sharp call of a raven cawing beckoned her attention back to a distant bend in the trail. The signal she had expected came whistling across the winds to prepare herself.
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#2
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

The whispers of the past called to her, summoning her thoughts back to a winter's day, when the sun did not scald her flesh and rouse the beast within. Once more she was on her knees among the brambles, their thorns digging into her shoulder where her master's servant, Scorylo, bade them wait with simple bows in hand. Most were men, but perhaps something pleased the brute with his ever present scourge to choose her to bring along this mission, where simple backwoods peasants were expected to hamper the efforts of the barbarian soldiers from Hungary.

There was nothing for it, however. Vezina knew well the consequences of disobedience to their lord. She had seen the implements of anguish. The twisted, restrained bodies, stripped of dignity, will, and hope, languishing in what the peasants called the pit of despair. After witnessing it, the girl had thought that no finer a name could describe it. Grown men had been begging her to kill her. Some had refused the food she gave, knowing it might only prolong their suffering, while others, deliriously consumed it in the manner of animals, such was their hunger.

Vezina had no desire to become like them. Man, nor woman, nor child was spared from their lord's wroth, so unquestioning loyalty was the only sane choice. The girl took aim with her bow and waited, the string held slack, until the order to fire came.

She had not killed men before, so to steady herself, she thought of them as animals. Small forest rodents at first, but when that would not hold, she thought of them as wolves, and then as deer, yet less easily startled than either, for they stomped loudly and crudely through the woodland undergrowth. Her knee began to ache beneath her, and the bramble in her shoulder refused to stop biting her, but she ignored the pain for to move was to give away their position - and doom her to either a quick death at the hands of the Magyars, or punishment in the pit.
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#3
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

The heavy tread of the soldier's iron shod boots reached Vezina's ears long before she could see them. Roughly a dozen men in shirts of chain and helmets armed with spears and swords. Two keen-eyed scouts ran ahead of them with bows much like her own. Leading all was a well-armored warrior bearing the black cross on his tunic, his thick beard making him look much like a wild animal.

The scouts drew near their gaze extended up towards the cliffs where Vezina and the others lay hidden. They stopped and gestured for the rest of the men to come forward their eyes never leaving the cliff to either side of the trail. The one closest to Vezina seemed to stare directly at her his piercing light blue eyes seeming to lock with hers, yet he gave no signal that he saw her or any of the others.

The soldier couldn't be any older than she herself was, he might even be considered handsome if her weren't the enemy. Another bird call gave the signal for the carnage to begin.
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#4
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

The scout would make the best target, and surely by now he had seen her. The boy was practically memorizing her face by the way he looked at her. She inhaled with a shudder, trying to not let her breath give her away. She felt in those moments, looking into the scout's eyes, that she couldn't exhale. To exhale would be to raise the alarm, to forgo their ambush, and lead to her immediate death, or worse.

The bird call had come just as she felt her lung would collapse, and in one fluid motion she drew the bowstring back and began to exhale. Her fingers drew apart and she loosed her arrow, sending it to join with the entire volley, as they rained down their master's answer to the would-be invaders of the homeland.
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#5
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Four of the Magyar's fell with the first volley, Vezina's scout among them with an arrow right through his eye. The soldier on horseback fared far worse however as a small boulder caught him squarely in the chest and knocked him cleanly from the horse. The horse panicked on the narrow mountain trail adding to the disarray of the foreigners. Several of the soldier's had already started fleeing back the way they had come only to run into another volley from the signal group.

It was only a matter of time before the men were laying on the trail dying from the hail of arrows that filled their corpses. Vezina could sense the massive Scorylo moving behind her as he gave the order to check the corpses for treasure and survivors. He sounded pleased with himself, which was good for Vezina and her compatriots. Their beating would only be half as harsh as normal.
 

BlueSlime

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#6
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Vezina ran down quickly to the fallen warriors, her sore, red fingers patting down the enemy for any trinkets and items of worth. The weapons and armor of course would be taken to be refitted for the master's guard. Any gold or silver would need to be passed on as well. But the wineskin she could drink from, and any hard bread that the soldiers carried she could keep as her own, or bring back to her father. Swiftly she moved onward, to a second body that lay on its side, an arrow embedded in the ribcage, between the loops of the crude ring mail that he wore.

The girl hesitated at the last moment, for as she stared at her quarry, she realized that he still had a faint glimmer about him. Swirling colors that Vezina had slowly grown to recognize in people ever since she was a child. To many people of the Carpathian basin, such a gift was seen more as a curse, and a sign of the strigya. She had mentioned it once, as a very young girl of only four, and her mother had beaten her for it, calling her a liar and a bitch for saying things that would make others call them both witches. Ever since, Vezina had kept her second sight to herself, but she still used it on occasion, and even now it served her.

The man lay motionless, his aura a motif of pain and hatred. He was an injured, dying wolf in a trap, but he still had fangs, this wolf. One long fang, Vezina thought, likely grasped tightly and hidden from view until a scavenger like her should chance upon him and give the soldier of the black cross one last victim.

She gave him no chance, drawing a shaft from her quiver and releasing it into his exposed leg. The shaft impaled the leg completely, its tip sticking clear out the other side of the limb. The soldier, now dying properly, howled and rolled on the ground in front of her. She drew her own fang, a long knife that she normally used to skin animals that her father had trapped, and fell upon the soldier, plunging the blade into his throat. His lifesblood welled out of his neck and spilled across her fingers in a sticky flood. She straddled the man until he was at last a motionless corpse, and his aura had faded.

The road back to the village was a long one, but she and the others had served their master this day. For one more setting of the sun, the soldiers of the Black Cross would not hold sway in these lands.
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#7
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Vezina could hear Scorylo laugh from behind her again as she quickly dispatched the soldier. It was an odd laugh to hear from her master's great servant, more akin to something you would hear from Tarbus. She felt herself roughly dragged back by the monster as he pointed and spoke in his brusque manner.

"No, you should have killed him so that his suffering would be prolonged. The master says we must bring pain and suffering, not just a quick death. Watch."

Scorylo strode over to another soldier who yet stirred and dragged him in front of Vezina. The scout with her arrow embedded in his eye, something had kept the young man alive despite his grievous wound. Scorylo proceeded to take a long leather strap and wrapped it around the boy so that his body was compressed into a small ball. The torture would have been akin to that of the rack but inverted.

Even as close to death as he was the scout screamed with such pain that it made Vezina want to cover her ears. She did not however for the brute was trying to teach her a lesson of some sort. At least that is what it seemed he was doing. Scorylo turned and presented the man with a horrendous grin and said.

"The pain is more important than you could ever understand of course, now we take him to the master. It will make the master strong to have such pain at his disposal."

Vezina couldn't help but wonder what the brute was trying to teach but she soon found herself walking back with the others as two of the men carried the prisoner on a stick between them.
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#8
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Vezina recalled the strength with which Scorylo and tossed her to the earth that day. Already at that point, he must have been drinking of the Master's blood, for she was like a ragdoll to him.

She had recovered, picking herself up to her knees, then staying still as Scorylo chastised her for killing quickly, as she might have done to give an animal mercy and stop its bleating. The brute told her that her master did not want this to be, and she knew it to be truth.

"I... I'm sorry," she had told Scorylo, meekly, not wanting at all to seem as anything but a mere peon. Any pride or challenge in her voice or even being neutral and not obeisant would have resulted in a beating that could have left her lame or even dead.

Vezina had gritted her teeth beneath her tightly drawn lips, wanting but not daring to look away from the boy who was bound into a compressed position in front of her. His pain unmistakable, the fool should have gouged her arrow further into his skull while he had the chance. She decided it would be best to think of him rather as some animal now, rather than the boy that he was.

"Pain is important. Important for the master. Praise be to our master," she intoned to the apparent approval of Scorylo. She walked behind the men who carried the wailing creature, who after a half hour of walking passed out. She could tell by his aura that he was not dead yet, unfortunately for him.

Soon enough, they came to the abode of their lord. She still remembered seeing him for the first time, when she was only a child. His aura had been unlike anyone else she had ever come across. Darkly majestic, otherworldly, and coursing with a power that she recognized without completely understanding it.

Such a creature might create pain, she had thought. But not mindlessly. Not for pain's own sake, as Scorylo might think. If only she might hear her lord speak again, she might understand him better. As terrifying as he was to his subjects, he was also their protector. She knew this intrinsically somehow, or at least had believed it to be so.
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#9
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

The darkness of night had long fallen by the time Vezina and the others had returned to the Lord Gyulu's castle. There it stood on the hill-top above the village like a stone guardian, the even taller peaks of the Carpathians created a picture of dark majesty. It made her wonder if those distant peaks each had their own protectors like her master.

The men broke off from the group as they passed their homes one by one, leaving only Vezina and the two carrying the boy. What horrible fate awaited him she had only the briefest of ideas. The home she shared with her father was one of the closest to the gates of the castle, marking them as prized possessions. She had managed to gather a few scraps of bread and dried meat during the ambush and looked forward to resting.

Entering into the hovel that she called her home Vezina found the place empty, her father having left the same morning as she to check traps. More than likely he was holding up at some lowly inn, deep in a tankard of spirits. The hearth was cold but it took her little time to get it going as she had plenty of wood stacked beside the hovel.
 
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BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#10
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Vezina left Scorylo and the damned scout to travel up the road to the looming castle, returning to the hovel that she and her father scraped a living in. Finding her father absent, she lit a fire by herself and tended to the hearth. It would be another cold night, and the hearth would not only cook them food, but heat them throughout the unforgiving night.

She set the dried meat and the bread aside and hung a pot with some old water from a stick above the heath to boil. She threw in some foraged mushrooms and root vegetables. Perhaps she would use the meat, to give her father a rare treat of a meal when he got back from the tavern. She hoped he would return without too much drink in him. He was rarely violent with her, but he would not appreciate the stew if he was ready to fall asleep in a stupor by the time he got back.
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#11
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Vezina's hovel soon smelled of the delicious stew as it boiled upon the hearth. Though the fire in the hearth did little to keep the chill mountain air from permeating her home, the stew would warm her until she could slip beneath the furs of her bed.

She had little time to think before she heard an unusual noise from without, the sound of metal shod boots and horses making their way towards the castle. She peaked from behind the shoddy door of their cabin afraid that she would see that the soldiers of the Black Cross had somehow made their way to her master's castle.

It was not the Magyar's however, but a band of mercenaries perhaps twenty to thirty strong. Leading them were three men on horseback, there auras were similar to her master's. Faded compared to that of most mortals but strong, though not so strong as her master's. Perhaps the rumors were true and her master was fighting a losing war with the foreign invaders.
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#12
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Vezina watched the parade of soldiers carry on towards Lord Gyulu's castle. She had seen others with his aura before, but not for some time. It was always wise, she found, to make herself scarce when these types walked or road through the night among them. Her gift of sight let her hide quicker than most, and she knew that her caution was wise, as peasants always went missing when those men and woman and 'things' arrived.

Without ever being told the nature of these things, Vezina had understood the dynamic long before she had been embraced. Back then, those strange unearthly auras had marked the vampires as the predators, and she and her village as the prey. Only their master cared for them as his flock, and while he might choose and slaughter a fatted ram now and then, for the most part, they were safer when he was near and could watch over them. That at least was how she viewed her existence under her lord's rule.

She stayed out of sight in her hovel, wary of their presence but making no move that would bring their gaze upon her.
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#13
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

The three vampire's were an odd mix of companions. The one who seemed most like the leader was clad in blackened chain and a dark cloak, as he rode upon a white horse. The other two were even more unusual to the eyes of a simple Carpathian peasant. One a man dressed in little more than a kilt, had wild scraggly hair and beard, with eyes like those of a wolf, his fangs and claws only added to his savage appearance. The next was thin and deeply tanned with brown robes made for a much different climate, armed with an oddly curved large sword of shining silvery steel.

Vezina gladly shrank back into her hovel away from the strange foreign mercenaries. She would be safe here for there was no way her master would allow harm to come to his herd even from creatures that were his allies. The stew would be ready soon and she began to wonder if she should wait for her father.

After a mere second or so of pondering this she heard what sounded like the drunken steps of her father. Together with what sounded like jeering and taunting in some foreign tongue, directed toward the drunken steps.
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#14
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Vezina had once more approached the door to her abode, and peeked out. Had her father chosen this of all times to stumble into the street? Fool of a man. Sometimes she wondered how a man so skilled and clever with traps, who could stalk through the forest like a shadow, and who could identify at a glance and sniff which mushrooms were safe to eat and which would kill you with certainty; how could such a man behave so irresponsibly and dive so readily into his cups?

It frustrated the peasant girl, as she imagined it must have frustrated her mother all those years ago. Yet her father was all she had in this world, and she doubted that she could survive long without him.

So if she found him drawing the ire and attention of these dangerous foreigners with their dark auras, she would hasten to run to him, draw a cloak about him and try to bring him swiftly indoors, and away from the laughter and deranged amusement of the nightwalkers.
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#15
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Her father stumbled and staggered up the street drunk on brandy, or wine, or ale trying to get to their home. Vezina neither knew nor cared which it was but she did care that he might get hurt. The three dangerous creatures of the night had left their troops to set up camp outside of the castle of her master. Of course being the unruly peasants that they were they had found her father, an equally unruly peasant.

Most of the mercenary troops were busy with the setting up of their camp, but a few had wandered over to jeer and taunt her father. The men were little different from the ones she had killed earlier in the day. Braving the jeers and taunts herself Vezina ran out into the night air to throw a cloak and draw him inside their hovel.

Before she could get far with her drunken father, one of the men grabbed the cloak and spun her and her father over into the mud and earth. Her father was so far gone that he did nothing but lie on the ground moaning, which meant Vezina was now alone with the three men. She knew the look in their eyes even if she had never seen it this close she knew what they wanted.
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#16
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Vezina bared her teeth and swore under her breath, glaring up at the men like a feral dog. She had no intention of being a pretty young thing for them to fancy. Her hand went to the skinning dagger in her belt, pulled it free and pointed it at the men as she tried to get her feet under her and crouch low.

"I've killed men today. I'll kill more if I have to. Leave us be and go back to your drink!"

She spat and flicked the knife back and forth, waving it wildly in front of her. Mud had splattered across her dress and face, adding to her wild appearance.

"This blade is sharp. It will only take one cut to end you." She tried to keep steel in her voice, but she felt her throat constricting as fear started to grip her. She knew that if they pressed her, she might at best stick one of them before being overwhelmed, and once that happened, there would be no stopping them. She had to make them afraid to bother with her.
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#17
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Vezina certainly appeared intimidating and her new-found ability to live with killing men certainly put something behind the threat. However there were too many of them and they had no knowledge of the feral little girl who crouched in front of them ready to strike.

As a group they rushed at her, lustful intent obvious in each of their odious eyes. Vezina's dagger bit deep in the first to reach her and she managed to kick the second in the ankle, but the third was upon her and soon twisting her knife out of her hand. Vezina was now utterly vulnerable to the two remaining men, for the first was quickly bleeding out on the ground from his wounded groin. The one with the broken ankle hobbled over toward his companion as he held Vezina down and tore at her clothing.

Her father would be no help as he was lying in an unconscious heap and no other in the village would dare risk their life against these soldiers for her. The only thing that might stop her impending loss was the master or one of his servants.
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#18
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

Vezina still kicked and scratched and thrashed, even as the men overcame her with their brute strength and pinned her beneath their weight.

"Dogs! Animals! Worthless shits!" She called them, which only earned her limbs unforgiving twists and a free elbow to her ribcage, which silenced her for a moment. "M-master!" She called out to the night sky, knowing now that nothing save a prayer to the only power she believed in, pagan that she was, would bring her salvation. She knew of no kind god of mercy, only a dark god who ruled the night and these woods and all people within it.

"Master Gyulu!" She pleaded, before a fist found her cheek and blood flushed from her nostril and cut lip, while her face welled up quickly to a bright red and purple splotch. The pain was almost welcome, for it numbed her to the horrific possibilities of what might come next. She felt her clothes being haphazardly ripped from her body, and her skin was bared open to the frigid chill of the Carpathian mountain climate.

"Gyu... Gyu..." she muttered as her limbs lost their energy and another heartless slap rendered her completely dazed. She hoped they might hit her one more time, so that she needn't remember this. Perhaps she would not wake up at all. But another hit was not forthcoming, and she could sense her body being twisted, her left leg being held high above her.

It only remained for her to not give them the satisfaction of her screams, but she was not certain if she could.
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#19
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

The men did indeed seem like little more than rutting dogs as they pawed at Vezina's flesh and clothing. Their repeated blows had knocked her almost unconscious even as she had called out to the only protection that she knew of. Though he no doubt cared little for the typical peasant, she was different. Not because of her looks or talents, but because she was food. She was like a lamb in the shepherd's flock being beset by wolves.

Just as she tensed for what she knew would be coming, some powerful force tossed the man on top of her back several feet. She felt her arm yanked out of its socket by the man's grip, but she was free. She spun around in time to see the man with the broken ankle trying to fight off the very earth of the mountain itself, and the dying man was simply gone. It was as if the very mountain had decided to fight back her attackers.

Then she heard the heavy boots coming towards her, the armored leader of the band. The one like her master made its way to the one soldier as he tried to stand and run. The leader violently yanked him to his feet by the throat and swore in a language that Vezina did not know. The man a mere rag doll in his grasp as he tossed the man back towards where Vezina lay. A look of utter fear crossing his face as he landed in a heap a few feet away.

The third man then was spat up by the earth his wounds healed, though he was still held fast by the mountain. All three of the men screamed in fear and anguish as the dirt held them fast in place.
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#20
Re: Echoes of the Forgotten Lesson (Vezina)

After her scream had died out and the shock of her shoulder being loosed from its socket had run its course, the peasant girl could only lie in dazed and bloodied awe at what she saw around her. The very earth had shook and spat, freed her from her plight and punished the marauding villains. Turning on her side, Vezina winced in pain, clenching her legs together and weeping her agony into the earth, in silent cries. She then kissed the dirt beneath her, and tried to drag herself back to her hovel.

Her tears dried quickly, for they were more the body's intrinsic reaction to pain and indignity, but once these had passed, there only remained her realization that it was cold and near on freezing with the wind. She must get herself and her father to the dwelling and warmth of her hearth, or they might both succumb to the bitter chill.

"Father. Father!" She hissed, using her one good arm to nudge the man in his stupor. She slapped him, harder and harder across the face, until he woke. She could no longer support his weight, and he would need to crawl himself back to their hovel.