They were occupying a disused church, the master and his coven. He thought they'd be safe there and they were but he had to warn them.
"Do not feed on tainted blood, no matter how hungry you are or what terrible thirst you have do not taste it, for it will drive you mad."
It was The Black Death of 1348 when Europe was ravaged by plague. Plague carried by the infected fleas that fed on the rats. The rats were everywhere. They dwelled within the thatch and straw of the buildings, in alleyways and cellars. They were the plague and the plague was them and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
Death was all around--in the filth and contagion, beside the diseased ravaged ships in the harbor, moving up from the docks with the scurrying rats—!
And when the people began to fall ill, they perished fairly quickly, so marked were they with the signs of their contagion. No one was safe. Not the old or the young, not even babies.
People went into hiding if they could to wait it out. Yet thousands died in their supposed havens. And still the bodies piled up. The cart men weren’t even coming any more. Most of them had sickened and died.
There were those that were immune to the plague, such as the Master and his coven.
The Master was their lord and they, his coven of vampires were gathered around him many of them weeping.
“Do not fear, it will not help!”
They were male and female, nearly all of middling age. But of course that depended on their age upon creation.
He loved them all, for they were like his children. His woman, his favorite wench was weeping, so frightened was she.
“There, there, nothing can be gained by that! Dry your tears and listen to what I say!"
The room was bathed in the shadow of flickering candle light for he didn’t wish anyone to know they were congregated there.
Funny they should seek safe harbor in a church. But they did for there were few places they could hide.
He looked at each of them before he spoke. They waited for they knew it was important. And so he began, his rich voice speaking to each of them:
“Whatever you do, however thirsty you become, do not taste tainted blood!”
They began to murmur and whisper. Many of them sounded frightened.
"What shall we do, Master? We shall perish if we do not feed!"
The vampire nodded for he was tolerant with them, yet he wished them to understand.
“You will have to be patient, to wait until I can provide for you. Remember, tainted blood will drive you mad."
Some of them gasped, others wept.
“If they see one of our kind, and never forget, with careful scrutiny they can tell. If they identify you as a vampire that has fed on the dying, they will turn you over to the destroyers.” He shook his head sadly. “You do not know what a painful death that is for our kind. The pain is unimaginable. And all the while you suffer, your destroyer’s laughter will ring in your ears.”
When they were at rest, for they rested during the day, one of them began to move. It was a woman. A wench who thirsted for a fresh kill. She had dreamt of it, of the taste, of the sweet saltiness darkening her tongue and sliding down her throat.
She began to recall recent feeds she had, the white flesh of a young girl, the exhilaration of her teeth tearing that flesh apart—and then the first taste of the feed!
When she could no longer stand suffering, she crept out of the domain—hardly breathing for she was fearful that the master would discover her and reprimand her.
She’d have been far better off if he had.
She waited until dusk, whereupon she ventured outside. A young man was coming along; the vampire smiled and closed her eyes for already she could taste his blood.
She waited until he came closer. And because there was a full moon, she looked him over, just to make sure he looked well.
He didn’t cry out, he collapsed under the terrible strength of her touch.
And she fed hungrily.
What she hadn’t seen, was the terrible buboe under his right arm. It had already burst, and though he still looked fit, he was already dying.
The madness set in almost at once as she hurried back to the coven. She saw a great black bird dive at her, shrieking loudly. She brushed it away, but there were more. Hundreds more and she screamed.
But because she walked alone and there was nothing attacking her, it was quite clear to all who saw her that she was mad.
A man had come to look at her, to examine her carefully. Holding his torch he had seen the caked blood on her teeth and her chin as well as the drained corpse nearby.
The Master saw it all; he had ventured out trying to find the girl but hadn’t come in time.
Yes, he said to himself. The plague kills all, both human and vampire alike, but whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad!
© copyright 2012 Carole Gill