THE LAIR OF THE VAMPIRE
By Carolina Hobot (alias Lila Tulip)
Word Count: 10350
Rating: PG-13 for possession and mild violence
Summary: A girl visits upon a strange place and learns that not everything is as it seems
Anna Liefson ran a hand through her bob frowning as she checked that she had everything necessary.
“Darling, your frown will become permanent if you continue interrogating your inventory.”
Glancing up, Anna met her husband’s smiling countenance, his eyes mirroring the teasing tone of his voice. He had their daughter on his hip while their two sons were chattering to each other as they ate breakfast.
“Don’t be silly, Derek. You know I won’t be able to relax unless I know we have everything.”
Derek laughed. “An unfortunate truth Anna, but I hope you’re almost ready. Tabitha just called to say she was on her way.”
“Then shoo as I finish, there will be mutiny if I neglect to bring the right amount of food.”
“Unless you are raising an army then I’m sure you will be fine.”
Anna rolled her eyes as her husband departed and ticked off the last item on her checklist: Welsh cakes. Very pleased, Anna darted into the corridor and grabbed her coat from the closet. Entering the kitchen, she smiled as Arthur came up and hugged her. His brown eyes, so much like hers, blinked away tears as he tried to be brave.
“You’ll be back soon, Mum?”
“Of course, darling, I am just going for less than three days. Your father will take good care of all of you.” Crouching Anna embraced Arthur, whispering into his ear, “Promise you’ll help your daddy look after Michael and Ruth.”
Her boy nodded and said fiercely, “I will, Mum!”
Squirming out of her arms, her ten year old ran to his father to declare he was going to protect them all. Derek shot her a grin mouthing ‘thank you’ before he announced loudly, “Okay all of you, time to kiss Mummy goodbye. Wish her fun on her holiday!”
Michael and Ruth demanded hugs and kisses then, before they could cry properly, were ushered out by their father.
Derek leaned over and hastily kissed Anna on the cheek. “Be careful, dear, and have fun dancing with monsters.”
“The only monsters will be fake, dearest.”
Anna saw her husband shrug as she followed him to the front of the house. He buckled the two youngest into the car while Arthur proudly did it on his own.
“Haunted house” he mouthed as she slipped into the car. Shaking her head with some amusement, Anna waved goodbye. The car reversed, turned into the road then was gone. The sudden emptiness filled Anna making her shiver not only from the cold day.
She rarely spent any time away from her brood or Derek, but her husband had been very supportive of her going on this little sojourn with her three friends. Her husband had argued that it had been years since she was able to have fun without children demanding attention, so go and party.
He hadn’t been so happy with the haunted house aspect, but Anna was hoping the tales were exaggerated. Lost in contemplation, Anna was startled when Tabitha drove up.
“Good morning Anna! Are you okay?”
Her friend strode over, wrapped up in thick scarf, gloves and heavy coat with woolly hat covering her ears.
“Oh, Anna,” sighed Tabitha as she looked into Anna’s tearful face, before squeezing the air from her lungs.
Gasping, Anna felt her sadness lift a little. “Good morning, Tabitha, I was just being morose.”
“Leaving your children for three days must be hard, but don’t worry! You’ll have plenty to do once we arrive.”
“You mean fighting Dafydd for the kitchen?”
Anna led her friend into the warmth of the house shutting the door. Going into the living room Tabitha’s eyebrows went up.
“How much food have you packed? We’re only staying two nights.” She nudged a cooler bag with her boot.
“Food for the Halloween party, food to leave out for the spirits and food for breakfasts, lunches and suppers. If I did not pack so much, you and Gabriel would be the first to complain.”
Tabitha grinned unrepentantly. “True, but Dafydd also agreed to take food didn’t he?”
“Oh yes, but he said he would cover fruits, desserts and stuff for the party.”
“All I can say is that I hope the spirits are hungry otherwise Gabriel and I will be fencing for a solid week to lose weight.”
“Stop that and let’s get a move on. The men will be here soon.”
Tabitha put a strap over her head, bag on her hip then also picked up one cold box. “Lead on Anna.”
* * *
They had finished packing by the time Gabriel arrived with Dafydd. Hastily the four conversed and agreed that Gabriel should lead as he had checked out the house initially.
“I will drive so we keep together on the road, Tabitha. If we become separated I will stop briefly in a lay by.”
Tabitha nodded and checked the map they had laid out across the hood of Gabriel’s car.
“Anna can always call Dafydd if there any major problems, but it seems an easy enough route. See you on the other side.”
Gabriel folded the map. “I wouldn’t joke about such things, Tabitha. If the house is haunted then we have enough trouble without inviting further problems.”
Dafydd rolled his eyes. “Stop being so miserable, Gabriel. I, for one, am excited. It’s not as if we’re going to summon demons, after all.”
“That is not what I mean, Dafydd. We are going to commemorate the festival of All Hallows Eve, which prepares for the days of All Saints and All Souls. There will be nods to the commercial aspects of Halloween as it is now called, but also a respectful nod to Samhain.”
“Yeah we all know. I fail to see how demons are involved in what Tabitha or I said.”
Anna caught Tabitha’s gaze, but Tabitha didn’t seem worried. Anna felt however it would be wise to stop a further escalation of matters.
“What Gabriel is trying to say is that the veil between the land of the dead and ours is much thinner tonight. We shouldn’t joke about such matters. The ancient Celts did not and neither as Christians should we.”
Gabriel smiled warmly at her. “As always, Anna is our peacekeeper. I was berating you Dafydd…just try to be careful please? Tales of a vampire haunting the house and grounds aside, I don’t want any misplaced words or rituals. Words have power…and supported by rituals centuries old, then a misplacement of both with enough fervour can unleash power we do not understand.”
Dafydd scowled but after a moment of tension he relaxed. “Okay, message received. Can we go now?”
Gabriel seemed unconvinced but agreed and they were off.
* * *
Dafydd stared out the window as Gabriel drove them through Barry. He was steering them along the Waterfront so they caught a glimpse of the waters. On a sunny day the sight was very pretty and while on the 31st of October the day was freezing, the sun had actually poked its head out. It was also dry; two minor miracles in Dafydd’s book.
Too quickly however they left hilly Barry behind and were on the motorway. Shutting his eyes for cars zipping past were of no interest Dafydd daydreamed until Gabriel woke him.
“Dafydd, Castell Coch.”
Opening his eyes Dafydd watched as the majestic castle reared above them, an imposing piece of architecture. It been built in the Victorian era by William Burgess on the remains of a 13th century castle.
They would be staying nearby where they would be able to catch sight of the castle lit up at night. Dafydd shivered. It would surely add to the spooky effect.
Gabriel turned off the motorway driving along normal roads until eventually they were on a small side road that was narrow and winding between the hills. It was boarded with hedgerows that funnelled through a bank of trees. Towering oaks hunched over them that still had a few red gold leaves hanging from their branches.
A gate was open at the end of the tunnel and Dafydd shifted in his seat, excited to see the house.
“Almost there, Dafydd, no jumping out until I’ve stopped,” said Gabriel.
Dafydd looked at his friend and saw the cheerful expression and felt easier in spirit. “I’ll try.”
Gabriel merely pointed in front then returned to driving. Following his friend’s gesture Dafydd leaned forward biting his lip.
Evergreens still cloaked in luxuriant mantles of green had been planted near where the cottage was situated, forming a strange line that rose high behind the cottage. Beyond them the copse continued with some branches bare, while others still clung to the remnants of summer.
The large space free of trees was full of green grass cut through by the path they were driving. Brown flowerbeds lay vacant as winter drew close.
Up ahead the cottage had ivy creeping up one side of it with quaint lanterns hanging either side of the door. A worn path led behind the cottage. Gabriel parked and Dafydd scrambled out inhaling the fresh air. Looking to the right he could see how the swathe of land rose steadily so the cottage stood almost on a natural dais and how the trees were not yet tall enough to block sight of Castell Coch.
Good, he would ensure his room would have a view of it.
“Gosh it’s chilly!” exclaimed Anna as she stomped her feet beside him. Dafydd could barely see her face due to her hat and scarf.
“Let’s get you inside Anna. Gabriel!”
Gabriel who had just opened the boot looked over and seeing Anna shivering instantly jogged over, pulling out the keys as he did.
“Come on Anna, we’ll get you inside and start a fire.”
“There’s no heating?” asked Dafydd as he hugged Anna close.
Gabriel fiddled with the lock. “Yes, but it will take time to warm nevertheless. There is a chopping block at the back which I shall use. The owners kindly said I could use it as long as I took wood from the shed.”
“You hear that, Anna? We’ll be like knights of old, huddling around a fire feasting on meat, wine and singing tales of our exploits.”
Anna’s eyes were bright with amusement. “I think a more accurate version would be: devouring Welsh cakes, drinking tea and frightening me with tales of vampires?”
“We can do both.”
“Multi-tasking is a great skill,” commented Gabriel with a chuckle, pushing the door open. “Enter my fair lady and slightly eccentric knight.”
“This eccentric knight will claim victory over the fire.”
Ushering Anna in, Dafydd saw a surprisingly spacious living space full of comfortable furniture. A dark red rug lay over the wooden floor with wooden beams above. Armchairs and a sofa were scattered in a semi-circle pattern near a dead fireplace. The other side of the room had an oak table with chairs for eating and pictures of Castell Coch and scenes from the costal shores of Wales. Dafydd was happy to see one of Barry: the sandy beach ran down to a blue sea, waves topped with white foam. The cliff face rose up on the right, beautiful and exposed in the periphery of the picture. Tourists milled everywhere.
Anna wandered to the staircase as Dafydd examined the fireplace. Gabriel turned on the heat so it would begin to warm up then joined Dafydd. The fire had been cleaned properly and the poker and lighter were in the stand ready for use.
“I’ll fetch logs once we are unpacked. Can you-”
“Who’s there?” cried Anna.
Alarmed both of them turned to see Anna shudder.
“What’s the matter Anna?” Dafydd was worried by her pallor. Gabriel was staring up the staircase and frowning.
Anna turned a white face to Dafydd, her voice faint.
“Didn’t you feel that chill? It engulfed me just now and I thought I saw a face at the top of the stairs.”
Gabriel slowly walked up the stairs and onto the landing. They heard his footsteps as he explored the landing. Dafydd was thrilled at the possibility of a ghostly sighting but not wishing to frighten Anna more he concealed his eagerness.
“I’m sure it was nothing, Anna. Even if it was, ghosts can’t hurt you, only poltergeists.”
“Don’t the legends speak of a pale figure which brings misery, terror and a waning sickness that sometimes leads to death?”
“Well yes, but they also mention odd weather conditions, red eyes in the dark and objects moved. A few of the stories suggest a vampire presence, but while a number of fragments of folklore indicate certain vampires can walk during the day…those are under certain parameters. And you have a rosary so you should be fine.”
“Dafydd, it is good you’re a web designer, for you sure don’t know how to comfort people.” Tabitha appeared, clearly confused as to what was going on.
“Hey, Tabitha,” protested Dafydd, “I was being nice.”
Anna shook her head, a little colour returning. “I’m fine both of you. Tabitha, he was doing his best.”
“Is there a reason why Dafydd was comforting you regarding the habits of vampires?”
Dafydd filled Tabitha in, whereupon she was ready to follow Gabriel. However Gabriel had returned with a genuine smile and a hug for Anna.
“Nothing there, Anna, I promise. If you see anything else though just tell me. Are you happy to unpack in the kitchen with Dafydd?”
“We can fight for dominance,” added Dafydd.
Anna hesitated then said softly, “Yes, I shall be fine, Gabriel.”
Gabriel frowned but Anna repeated her assurance. Dafydd discreetly inclined his head just so. Gabriel understood and he disappeared with Tabitha to fetch their belongings.
“Come on Anna, no more ghosts or vampires until the evening. The kitchen awaits us! Glory to the winner!”
Anna laughed as he planned and followed him to the kitchen. Dafydd glanced back with longing. Anna had seen something and he was determined to discover what.
* * *
Evening fell fast with a yawning darkness filling the copse. The only light flickered in the Jack O’Lanterns and the distant light from the illuminated Castell Coch, the lighting making it seem to glow like an ethereal fairy castle. Two glowing Jack O’Lanterns guarded the door adding to the hint that there was another insubstantial world drawing close on this night.
Tabitha was relieved to be inside considering the eerie effects, especially as Anna still cast anxious looks about and would occasionally shiver. Tabitha kept an eye on her as Anna carefully put the final touches to an array of treats spread over the dining table, with banners of black and orange depicting cartoonish ghosts, witches, bats, vampires and castles.
Gabriel had lit a couple of incense sticks, the lovely rich smell of traditional frankincense slowly suffusing the living space. He had also arranged two vases of white, orange and pink Chrysanthemums with candles in red glass jars surrounding them; he would light the candles on All Saints Day in lieu of visiting the graves of family in Poland where flowers and candles were left on graves in the evening.
Dafydd came swooping in, carrying a tray with cling film covered paper plates.
His eyes lit up as he saw Welsh Cakes. Carefully placing the tray on the table he grinned, fangs catching the glow of candles set about, some in Jack O’Lanterns and a steady fire in the grate.
“Bat shaped, Anna! You are my heroine.” Claiming two, Dafydd saw icing on another Welsh cake outlining the shape of a wolf.
Anna said sheepishly, “I tried cutting a wolf shape but it turned to crumbs as I was using my knife – I didn’t have a cutter. So I gave up and drew instead.”
Tabitha chuckled and selected crisps and chocolate with a red coloured drink. Gabriel meanwhile wiped his mouth of crumbs, “Excellent, Anna. I love the chocolate chips as an alternative as well.”
Tabitha rolled her eyes at her friend’s predictably and elbowed him, knowing her smile must be fierce under her mask. Scarlet scales swept up to tuffs resembling the wings of a dragon, with gold lining the eye holes and a gold tendril curling from the mouth in the motion of a tongue.
“You like chocolate full stop. Mind your gut oh Templar Knight.”
Gabriel huffed and ate another Welsh Cake and a chocolate cupcake for good measure, cradling his black cat under his arm. Apparently the cat was his companion and good luck charm. They had been amused by that one.
“I am just happy you like the food, though Dafydd also contributed – those ghostly cupcakes are his invention.”
“Thank you, my dear!” proclaimed Dafydd grabbing Anna and swirled her about. The black robe she wore flared as did his cape. Tabitha had to admit Anna’s costume was pretty. Her dark robe symbolising death and darkness of the old year, was girded by an orange belt of autumn leaves – the orange promising colour and life to return. Her mask was beautiful: the luscious emerald shade of summer with decorative swirls, a fine gold veil sweeping from the top over her head. Her hair was bound with a circlet of autumn leaves, interspersed with green.
She was meant to be a bewitching lady, a fairy from the Welsh Tylwyth Teg. Anna laughed but the minute Dafydd released her she chewed on her bottom lip.
Gabriel instantly was there and bowed to Anna, kissing her gallantly as he declared, “Why, any wandering spirit would truly believe that you are from the fairy realm – perhaps I should be careful?”
Anna laughed her body slowly relaxing. “Are all Templars so fair spoken? It matters not kind Sir, this fairy invites you to food and drink.”
“I thought one had to be careful in accepting any sustenance from the fairy folk,” remarked Tabitha, quickly shooting a grateful smile at Gabriel for distracting Anna’s discomfort. Gabriel nodded in acknowledgement.
“Well this fairy is safe; she promises! And look at the food Dafydd prepared for wandering spirits.”
Dafydd shrugged, “A selection of cakes, bread, cheese and fruit: oranges, red apples, berries.”
“An excellent spread, but first we must pray for those who passed, those who wander and to also seek peace against any evil,” said Gabriel.
As agreed they formed a circle in the living area by the fire and Gabriel led them in prayer.
“Our Father, we pray for those departed, may they know your mercy and forgiveness, gaining peace in Heaven. For any who still wander in this world may they be guided to your light and eternal life.
Lord, in your goodness and wisdom we ask that evil is kept at bay. Those evil spirits who might seek entry into the world this eve, may they be spurned and harm none. Let them fear your name and be cast back.
Thank you Lord, Amen.”
Repeating ‘Amen’, they all took a plate and opening the door let in a draft of cold air. Ignoring the cold they gently laid the plates on the steps and path, the flickering pumpkins showing them in relief.
Tabitha glanced around but met only darkness, the silent sylvan gloom a dark mass. Creepy in one way, but entirely natural in another and not for her. The night belonged to others and happily withdrawing Tabitha joined her friends inside where a debate about the 1941 Wolf Man and cartoon Pumpkin Moon was ranging.
* * *
Tabitha was arguing with Gabriel over the best moments in the Wolf Man while Anna watched with great amusement. Dafydd knew they would be too preoccupied to notice his absence for a short while so he casually got up and went to the kitchen.
There he retrieved the plate of food and drink he had kept aside before heading to his room. Shutting the door, Dafydd switched on the light and began preparations. Setting the food on the bedside table he quietly moved to the windowsill where he also put the glass of milk out.
Picking up the Jack O’Lantern he lit it and the incense stick that he had placed in a holder. Stepping back, Dafydd surveyed his efforts with excitement. If there was a vampire haunting this establishment then it should be drawn to the offering; for if food offerings and lights could distract malevolent spirits, then by hosting them in his room, they should bring it here.
Gabriel and the others would decry his actions as more than stupid but Dafydd was sure he would safe. He had a rosary Gabriel had gifted to him and while he had little use for icons he did have one of Jesus placed by the door.
Excitement and fear curled in his belly, making his stomach roll but Dafydd forced down the agitation and left to re-join his friends. Tonight he would find out if his guesses were correct. For now however, he better return. If anyone commented on the length of his absence he would say he had dawdled on the way back from the loo, staring at the illumination of Castell Coch from his bedroom. Nearly bouncing down the steps Dafydd dismissed doubt.
An actual vampire! It was worth the risk surely?
* * *
The hour was late and everyone was asleep apart from him. Dafydd was restless, tossing back and forth in bed. Disappointment warred with the knowledge there was still time for the vampire to appear.
Creaks in the house had him listening with baited breath, heart hammering and palms sweaty. Yet always nothing came of them. Turning to face the window Dafydd tiredly watched the pumpkin. The glow was low, the candle almost out.
The shadows were growing deeper, only the faint light of the castle brushing his window matching the weakening Jack O’Lantern. The food and drink were untouched. Dafydd glanced at his watch on his pillow: 2 am.
The candle sputtered then extinguished and Dafydd hauled the covers to his shoulders as darkness crept around him. Sleep was harder to ignore so Dafydd focused on the window.
The lantern stood forlorn and seemed sad to Dafydd, while the food was a waste surely. A pale silvery light cast the windowsill in greater darkness, for a dark gap had opened between it and the window pane.
The moonlight grew greater falling into his room so Dafydd could see the pumpkin and food clearly. Yet…there was no moon right?
There was no moon, for the new moon had occurred only last night. The lights on the castle weren’t that bright…
Amidst his increasingly confused musings Dafydd was abruptly aware of how cold the room had become.
Shuddering and startled as his breath drifted in front of him as a white mist Dafydd blinked sleep from his eyes. His head was heavy and refused to clear. Glancing at the window, Dafydd swallowed, the darkness by his window had deepened while the strange silvery light cast his bedroom in stark relief.
Dafydd clutched at his rosary, fingers numb; he put the rosary on, his head cleared a little and Dafydd sat up gasping as an icy chill struck him. Fumbling for the covers Dafydd realised that a cold draught was emanating from his window, but he had shut it! Annoyed with himself, Dafydd was about to get up when he saw the darkness by the window open.
A white hand slipped into the gap, a hand with fingernails long and sharp. A long arm snaked through clad in a dark blue material followed by a bowed golden head. Silence rolled from the creature and an oppressive presence tightened its grip on him, so Dafydd was pinned to where he half sat and half lay.
The form slithered in and for a moment in the silvery light filling his room. He thought he saw wings on the creatures back. In an instant they were gone and Dafydd wondered if he dreamt it. The figure uncoiled from the floor and red eyes fixed on him. The heat in them was hellish, piercing him to the soul and stripping him bare. A sweet smell of incense emanated from the being.
The pallid face was striking, high cheekbones and scarlet lips, with fair hair falling in waves to broad shoulders. Titling its head the man held out a hand, inviting as those horrid eyes captured his soul.
Whispers suffused his mind, conjuring sweet images of laughter, music and sensuous touches. At once entranced and disgusted, Dafydd tried to speak, demand what this fiend was, but his throat could not produce sound. Scared, Dafydd attempted to ignore the whisperings but the creature, so handsome and yet so wrong, walked forward without a noise. He halted at the foot of his bed and this time a gentle singing enraptured Dafydd. Swaying to the unvoiced song, Dafydd was unaware of slipping the rosary off and onto the floor.
The creature sighed and Dafydd saw white teeth like pearls with sharp canines. A vampire! Dafydd was thrilled. He had been successful. Giddy with joy and terror Dafydd saw the amusement on the creature’s face as it climbed onto the bed and settled over him.
“Yes, I am a vampire,” the words caressed his mind. The face lowered and breathed over his neck.
The sweet smell vanished and the stench of death and blood rolled over him and spell broken Dafydd recoiled but his head hit the board and he cried out. The vampire covered his mouth hastily and without further ado pressed its face to his neck.
A tongue licked his throbbing throat, followed by the sharpest of pricks as from a needle. A black veil fell over him. The pain was incredible – it felt as if his blood was roaring through his veins, worse as if his soul was clamouring and being drawn towards this wall of blackness.
The vampire spoke, his voice rich and sweet, a soothing litany as he drank.
“Be at ease Dafydd. The pain is momentary, the reward eternal. Thank you for inviting me, I have been lonely for so long…” Singing again Dafydd relaxed in a daze against the vampire who held him. His mind and soul rebelled but weaker now, as if his essence, his life were being extinguished.
As the veil darkened Dafydd managed one last plea.
Help, please God, help.
* * *
Gabriel stood by the lake watching the children and adults play on the waters in small rafts, or swim to and fro, or splash about. Long luscious grass grew at the borders and the sun beat down on them.
The tree he was under was pleasant shade and Gabriel wondered which lake in Poland he stood by, for the voices were Polish.
Startled, Gabriel looked left.
“Uncle Mieszko! But…but you’re dead!”
His uncle laughed, eyes crinkling before becoming sombre, dark eyes focused on him.
“Tonight of all nights the veil is so thin as to make it easy to visit one’s relatives, especially in dreams.”
Gabriel nodded, yet dread pooled in his stomach. His uncle had been a serious man and wouldn’t visit for mere chit-chat.
“What message do you have Uncle Mieszko?”
“Good boy, Gabriel. Your friend is in terrible danger, go now for his soul is in peril. Arm yourself with God, my nephew.” His uncle clasped his hand so briefly yet it was real and shouted, “WAKE.”
Gabriel woke with a gasp. Fearful and heeding his uncle’s warning Gabriel leapt from bed grabbing his shoes and putting them on without socks. Seizing his rosary and Holy Water, Gabriel managed to light a candle.
With great haste Gabriel ran to the corridor and shuddered at the deep cold that struck him. Glancing up Gabriel was alarmed to see a silver light under Dafydd’s door. A dark presence closed around him, evil and seductive.
Distant laughter plucked his ears but Gabriel whispered the Lord’s Prayer as he now ran to Dafydd’s door. He spared a breath as he did. “Tabitha!”
Alas, he had no time to wait, so Gabriel wrenched the door open and cried out when he saw the man bent over his friend, fair hair falling over a shoulder, the fiend’s head pressed into the crook of Dafydd’s neck.
At his entrance the intruder turned and Gabriel saw the demon for what it was. It drove the air from his lungs at the furious anger in those scarlet eyes, the red blood wetting lips and chin. The handsome features were twisted and hands like claws now came up.
Recalling himself Gabriel stretched out his hand holding the burning candle, with his other he brandished Holy Water and the rosary.
The vampire fell back with a shriek.
“Be gone foul demon! In the name of Christ I command you to go! Mary Mother of God, Holy Queen of Poland, intervene and send this demon back to hell.”
At the names of the Lord and His beloved Mother the creature snarled and spat, back arched, wings unfurling. Horror and disgust rose within Gabriel and he waved the water causing it to sprinkle. The vampire fell off the bed and Dafydd lay eyes wide, still, throat bleeding.
Grieved, Gabriel summoned his courage and faith and gazing at the ‘man’. Gabriel knew he must win or his friend would die.
“Go! I renounce you in the name of Christ. Lord God Heavenly Father, deliver us from this foul fiend. Send this vampire away. Lord may your angels protect us! Go!”
Gabriel stepped forward and, sprinkling more water, he held out the rosary and stepped forward again. The vampire shrieked and was now by the window. Raising the candle, Gabriel met the hatred evidenced by the vampire with solemn words. “The Christ is the Light of the world and he bringth light to dark places, good to evil. With his light you are banished.”
The vampire opened its mouth wide, an indigo serpent tongue flickering, ivory teeth gnashing then with wings curled over its form, vanished.
Exhausted and shaking Gabriel ran to his friend and placing his items on the floor, took off his pyjama shirt.
Gently he supported him with one arm. With his free hand he pressed his top against Dafydd’s neck, fearing the worst.
“Gabriel? What’s happened?”
Glancing up, Gabriel saw Tabitha standing on the threshold her fencing sword clasped in her hand. Her shocked eyes fell on them and she went pale.
“Dafydd! What happened to him?” Gabriel stopped his friend from coming closer, nodding to the window, reply terse.
“Shut it and put my rosary over the latch; then sprinkle it with Holy Water; also please say a prayer. It was a vampire.”
Tabitha gaped at him but did as bid. By then Anna had appeared with a rosary of her own, incense and Holy Water. It appeared not only he had a dream just then.
Gabriel gently shook Dafydd and was relieved to see the dazed look had begun to lift. Yet no sound was uttered and worried Gabriel checked the wound. He had stopped the blood flow somehow which was unnatural if very relieving, yet as he wiped his friend’s neck the two holes closed leaving vivid red wounds that did not bleed.
Tabitha appeared by his side, and hissed, “Did a vampire truly cause that?”
“Yes,” Gabriel met her eyes then Anna’s terrified gaze. “I woke from a dream – a warning from a passed relative – and rushing here witnessed the demon myself. I succeeded in repelling it; at least for now.”
“So the stories are true, but how did it come to him?” wondered Tabitha.
“I believe he invited him in, look at the lantern and food,” said Anna softly, saddened. “Oh Dafydd, how foolish of you!”
She approached the bed and touched the wounds. “These have healed but I fear not in a manner we would wish.”
Gabriel’s heart sank even as Anna’s words confirmed his fears. Tabitha nodded, obviously agreeing, her features grim.
“What do we do then? Wait for it to come back?”
“I pray not!” cried Anna.
Gabriel carefully rose and slipping his arms under his friend lifted him. “We first must watch him and if he wakens see what to do. If legends are true then Dafydd would tell us that only by killing the vampire can we free him.”
Youi don’t think he’ll become a-”
“I don’t know Anna,” interrupted Gabriel, “but we must prepare for the eventuality. Come now, my bedroom is safe. I shall leave you with Tabitha while I clear Dafydd’s room.”
Tabitha hoisted her sword, raising her chin. “I shall be ready physically and spiritually should it return. Anna, sprinkle some Holy Water on my blade and we will do a circle of protection as in the old days. The night is yet long.”
On those words they departed, the two women following as Gabriel carried their stricken friend to his bedroom.
* * *
The wait until dawn was terrible. The three had to endure watching Dafydd’s wan features settle into a hard expression which they had never seen in life. His cheeks grew hollower, cheekbones cast into relief. His eyelids fluttered and whenever he opened them, a light steadily burned stronger in them, until his blue eyes shone as hard as diamonds.
Halting for breath amid their silent and spoken prayers Anna announced their fears.
“The light! Oh his eyes are so handsome and enthralling, yet they are so hard and cold. How clever the devil is in his work!”
Tabitha stooped over Dafydd and felt his forehead. Her hair was tightly tied back and pinned up to free her for movement. She pursued her mouth.
“Enthrals you at a distance and only close – too close – does one realise the truth of the bewitching sight.” Straightening Tabitha felt for her sword, stashed in the holder on her belt.
“He is cold like the grave. How much further until dawn?”
Gabriel glanced at his watch; he too had his fencing sword strapped in position. His rosary hung from his neck.
“Another hour. Unless Dafydd’s condition deteriorates, I dare not try and leave. The darkness will avail this creature and not us.”
Anna rose stiffly from her knees with Tabitha’s assistance. Smiling gratefully, Anna sipped from a water bottle. “The gifts we left last night should protect the front entrance, so we can at least depart that way.”
Gabriel frowned. “Even if we do leave, one must stay to ensure the vampire doesn’t flee.”
“By leaving surely the vampire will follow us, since he has connected to Dafydd?” Tabitha asked.
“While that is not a reassuring thought, it fits my opinion. However,” Gabriel stared out the window pensively, “will he let us leave? Can we afford to leave if Dafydd is at high risk of becoming a vampire? We have no concept of what will happen to Dafydd if we remove him from this house and land.”
“We must try,” said Anna calmly. “If we cannot leave, then we fight now and here. If we can I shall guard Dafydd in our church while you return with priests.”
Tabitha nodded. “I agree. My minister will readily come.”
“Father Roderick will come too,” said Gabriel.
A low groan halted their conversation and Anna would have run to the bed if Gabriel hadn’t seized her. Hastily Tabitha approached the bed and crouched by the bed. Dafydd’s eyes flickered and he awoke properly with a shuddering breath.
His mouth parted wide and Tabitha gasped. She heard Gabriel’s hiss and Anna’s cry. Dafydd’s teeth were whiter than before, his canines were elongated – not yet sharp but not far off. His tongue was swollen and a dark red with a faint hint of indigo. His head turned and when he saw her he rasped happily, “Tabitha! I had a terrible nightmare…”
He trailed off at her expression, horror dawning in his cold blue eyes. Their light was brighter, his face like ivory. “It wasn’t a nightmare was it?”
“No Dafydd, I’m afraid it was all too real.”
Tears sprung in the corners of his eyes and he moaned. It was terrible and their hearts beat in agony for their friend. Still, however, Gabriel held Anna away, afraid of Dafydd until proven wrong.
Gently clasping his trembling hand, Tabitha asked softly, “Do you recall what happened?”
Dafydd nodded, tears slipping down his cheeks. His tongue moved painfully touching his canines. Dafydd shrieked then and Tabitha only held firm due to the discipline of years of training in martial arts.
The despair and horror was dreadful, capturing them all. Tabitha’s head grew heavy with fear, repulsion and regret. Her head bowed at the weight. Her friend’s hand was chilly, nails biting deep.
This is the vampire’s spell!
Alarmed and roused Tabitha prayed, “God break this spell I beg of thee. Amen!”
Instantly Dafydd stopped shrieking and collapsed on the sheets, panting. His eyes rested on her cross and he would have pulled away if Tabitha’s grip hadn’t intensified. So he did not yet have the creature’s strength, there was yet hope.
“Dafydd, please, we will save you, but you must tell us what happened. Here, have some of my water.”
Using her free hand Tabitha took the water bottle from her belt and with a thumb, unclicked the top. Carefully she dribbled a small amount into Dafydd who lapped eagerly. Once he had swallowed it all he fixed her with his cold eyes. Tabitha noted how his black hair, tips dyed blue had gained a glossy sheen not present yesterday.
Speaking slowly Dafydd told them of his actions and the vampire’s entry and drinking. Tabitha heard Gabriel’s mutter when Dafydd spoke of hearing whispers, song and a chant in his head.
“A spell! So that is how one is made a vampire.”
Dafydd paused and sighed, eyes distant. “Yes, I saw his life in the days of old, when knights roamed the land and King Arthur was in court in Wales. He was a wizard. A powerful one who cast spells for the Lord of his Castle. He…” Dafydd’s breath grew short and Tabitha squeezed his hand.
“You have said enough Dafydd. We know what we must do now.”
Gabriel and Anna appeared and Anna fell to organising Dafydd’s covers and bathing his forehead then face. Gabriel was grim and after sparing a look of comfort at Dafydd, he said gravely, “We cannot leave. Look! The vampire’s spell-craft transcended death indeed. See how he has used it hold us at bay! Be cautious and do not open the window!
Tabitha shared a look with Anna shocked by Gabriel’s demeanour. Together they approached the window and looked out. As Dafydd had talked dawn had arrived. With it had come the vampire’s minions.
Anna was the first to see the red eyes glowing through the trees.
The black shapes of creatures crouched in the trees, their slanted eyes staring at the cottage. A mist was creeping across the grass from the sylvan circle, crossing the copse with an uncanny speed.
They saw prints of wolves, but bigger than any wolf, imprinted in the hard winter soil depicting strength unnatural to animals. Movement in the tops of the trees suggested winged beasts and roars filled the copse that froze the blood.
Anna wrung her hands. “Since leaving is no longer an option, we must find the vampire’s lair before darkness falls.”
“Yes, I feel myself piercing the veil and entering the other side!” sobbed Dafydd, his dismay evident. “My soul is drowning in blackness and I hear his song calling me more strongly.”
Gabriel gripped his hand and Tabitha grabbed the other. Anna placed a hand on his cheek.
“We will free your soul Dafydd,” Tabitha knew she would not stop until that was truth.
Gabriel kissed his friend’s hand. “As Tabitha has said, you will be free before evening falls and another night is heralded. Today is the day of All Saints, a most holy sacred celebration. Yesterday was All Hallows Eve. While evil was invited we can and will repel it my brother in Christ. With the gifts we have, we will use to cleanse this cottage and seek his lair. Then we shall destroy him.”
Anna stroked his cheek, crying as she did. She was always the most compassionate and sensitive soul of their four.
“I shall remain with you and guard you from further danger.”
“What will you do?” said Tabitha, worried for Anna’s safety.
Anna smiled brilliantly, eyes, cheeks and lips wet. “Downstairs is a fire, if we build it up and pray over the flames we can ask the Lord to bless it. His Light will encroach upon the darkness. A circle of salt and Holy Water will prevent the demons the vampire has summoned. For the beasts under his spell must by the laws of such things, recognise Jesus and Heaven. We shall be as secure as possible until you have achieved your goal.”
It would have to do even as she dreaded abandoning them. Gabriel was already rising and hugging Anna in gratitude.
“The most sensible and bravest out of us all. I will carry Dafydd down and set the fire. Tabitha, gather all my materials including the flowers and candles. Once we have cleared each room and corridor I shall lay a flower, symbolising purity and love and a candle in remembrance. When we return with Father Roderick and Minister Raphael and they have performed a proper exorcism, we can remove them before our stay is finished.”
There was nothing further to say so Tabitha did as bid, watching Anna lead the way with her rosary, followed by Gabriel cradling a quiet Dafydd.
* * *
The fire burned in the grate, the flames slowly increasing. Anna observed the glow before checking the window. The fog – for it had become one swiftly – was very near the cottage. The white had blue flashes of light, sparking suddenly, followed by the shape of a large serpent whose sinuous form wriggled across the grass ominously, sharp and unpleasant. Forms with wings flapped in the thick white fog and gigantic wolves appeared.
It was frightening but Anna knew she must not waver. Returning to the circle of salt and Holy Water, Anna checked on Dafydd. He lay stretched upon cushions and bed covers. A warm blanket covered him to his chin. Only his hands rested on the soft wool, his neck visible so Anna could watch the wounds closely. Dafydd had insisted so she would have a chance.
Anna refused to acknowledge what could go wrong, for they would win: Gabriel and Tabitha would succeed with faith as their armour.
Kneeling so she could see the window, Anna clasped her rosary and began; she would focus on the Joyful mysteries first, recalling the Annunciation of the Lord to Mary. By recalling these events Anna wished to invite such joy and hope to the room and Dafydd.
Evil must bow before Him.
Dafydd groaned as she prayed and tossed, but Anna persevered. He cried out when she announced each mystery and oh! When she said the Hail Mary, her friend keened and thrashed.
Alarmed but firm, Anna watched him from the corner of her eye. The shapes of wolves were at the window and suddenly they shattered the glass. Anna nearly faltered, her fear rising in a choking wave as a dreadful, piercing cold rolled in. The icy chill was enough to thrust the air from her lungs so she had to gasp and gulp to regain oxygen. Dark ears, long snouts and hellish eyes peered in through the jagged gap.
They howled in recognition when their gaze fell on Dafydd, yet Dafydd for a moment cast his head away in revulsion. It was horrifying to know her friend was so close to joining the ranks of hellish creatures that Anna despaired. Yet…a spark of her friend must remain if he refused to acknowledge them in return. Anna was distracted from her wonderings when the black shapes, broken only by glowing scarlet eyes – even the teeth were mere inky outlines – turned towards her. It was terrifying.
They sniffed and cocked their heads. Anna fancied they were puzzled, baffled at smelling human but not seeing human. Anna touched her mask exhilarated. They had mistaken her for one of the Tylwyth Teg! However brief the illusion may be it was enough; sufficient for her to regain breath and courage to recommence. Hope rose in her breast and Anna raised her voice to combat them, defiance and determination adding weight to each word and plea.
“Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.”
The creatures howled, causing Anna to force her eyes to remain open. They retreated but their forms in the fog lingered, waiting. Dafydd screamed and Anna could glimpse sharp canines, fingers rending wool with dreadful force and the hard brightness now nearly devoid of her dear friend. The wounds were smaller now.
The transformation was terribly quick as if a force was fighting her declarations.
“Mary! Mother of God, please intercede on Dafydd’s behalf. Hail Mary, Queen of Heaven, be with us lowly sinners at our greatest need and help us against evil!”
Dafydd shrieked and snarled. The beasts outside roared in return full of dismay. Dafydd shrieked again and rose off his bed. Anna was forced to half turn and hold out her hands, rosary entwined.
“Be still, Dafydd! Heed me now! In the name of Jesus, His Father and the Holy Spirit, I renounce the evil spirit plaguing you. Be gone, foul stain! Jesus is King and sits by His Father in Heaven – you have no power here.”
Anna scooped up the burning incense stick and used one hand to wave it, the other dangling the rosary before Dafydd who spat and for a moment was in great distress. Hate soiled those enchanting eyes. Yet her friend was still there, for he could have grabbed her but hadn’t. So Anna knew renewed hope and her love burned hotter, her faith an assurance.
They were not alone.
“Our Father who art in…” Anna recited with love and calmness the Lord’s Prayer then the Glory Be, then she once again spoke the Hail Mary.
Never raising her voice, Anna recalled the reverence she felt in Church and whenever she called upon the Lord and Mary.
She could sense great goodness close and, finishing with a prayer to St Michael, there was a break: Dafydd shrieked and arched his back, hands beating the torn cover.
He shrieked so!
Then abruptly he was silent and gasping as he weaved weakly. Outside, the beasts were quiet and Anna watched as their shapes fell away and the fog drew back. A sweet smell not from the incense suffused the air and Anna felt peace wash over her.
Her friend was gazing at her and the sharpness, whiteness and coldness had nearly gone. His tongue was still purplish but not swollen. A wan pallor as if due to illness, not vampiric possession, crept over him and his features were tired with exhaustion.
“Thank you,” Dafydd whispered before falling back on the bed. His eyes half closed he breathed easier and said, “They are close. Pray, Anna, for my soul and theirs.”
Anna cried with happiness, relief and anxiety. Too many emotions to comprehend, yet that intense peace embraced her, cleansing her of anguish. So Anna did as bid and continued her prayers, her soul refreshed by the new presence of love cradling them.
* * *
Gabriel felt slightly ridiculous garbed as a Templar Knight seeking to hunt a vampire and cleanse its abode from evil spirits. Tabitha seemed equally uncomfortable, but her idea was sound. The ancient Celts believed that by wearing costumes they would help deceive malevolent spirits.
Well, they had a case of that here and anything was worth a try. So no matter how ridiculous he may feel, it was of no consequence. Gabriel was sure the ancient Celts knew what they had been doing and currently folklore and nightmare had come to life around them, so obeying a few rules from legend seemed wise.
Shrugging off his unease, Gabriel led Tabitha up the stairs. They had already cleansed the kitchen, which did not have that oppressive presence they now recognised. Leaving Anna and Dafydd alone was the hardest thing they had ever done.
Only the knowledge that Dafydd’s soul was at risk allowed them to do so without running back.
Gaining the landing, they walked slowly down the corridor ensuring the incense wafted along. Smoke filled the air, leaving a sense of purity that was refreshing to the lungs. The oppressive atmosphere was like walking through a thick sludge.
Tabitha halted halfway, to imitate the veil between their world and the non-physical. Symbols meant everything. She opened her Bible and read with great vigour of Jesus casting a demon from a man in the synagogue, where the malicious spirit recognised Jesus as the Holy One of God.
As she read doors slammed open and shut. A great wind took up and Gabriel was forced to cup the incense stick in his hands to prevent it from gutting out. Tabitha raised her voice and planted her feet wide as the wind tried pushing her over.
She repeated the Bible passage thrice then together they repeated the Our Father before finishing with a prayer requesting St Michael to protect them and with the power of God thrust down evil. Tabitha did so despite her uneasiness on calling upon an angel. However, when the wind abruptly died and yawning silence resumed, she smiled.
The passage-way was free of the oppressiveness from before. Grinning, Gabriel handed over the incense and took out three flowers and a candle. He retreated to the staircase and placed one there, recalling to mind all those who passed and praying for peace and the mercy of the souls of all who had died here and now lingered. He lit the candle as he remembered.
He did the same for the halfway point and at the very end. Tabitha joined him with the fully used incense. Gabriel had just pulled a fresh stick out when Tabitha touched his arm.
“Look,” she whispered.
Gabriel followed her gaze and inhaled sharply. A glowing door had appeared where none had been before. As they watched, it swung open revealing a dark stairway.
“Do you think it is the vampire’s lair?” asked Tabitha with wonder.
Gabriel felt strongly it was but hissed as he saw a white mist like figure materialise halfway down the dark stairs. The head looked up and Gabriel was staggered.
“It must be, for that is my Uncle Mieszko. He warned me of Dafydd.”
Tabitha squeezed his arm. “Then we must follow. God is with us.”
Neither questioned the spirit’s intention for the goodness and peace that radiated from the spirit could not be faked. His uncle did not speak, merely waiting. Quickly lighting two fresh sticks of incense, Gabriel went first with Tabitha following.
His uncle floated down the stairs ignoring all twists and turns until they reached a black mist. Screams and moans issued from it and Gabriel had to say a prayer to harden his heart. The noises were blood curdling.
Tabitha’s breath on his neck was fast but she too stayed firm. His uncle went on, the mist parting as he passed. Praying for his uncle and for themselves, and thanking God, they proceeded.
Fingers clawed at them, noses brushed their waists and tongues lapped at the calves. The blackness was impenetrable – only Uncle Mieszko guided them through, for even their torches failed. Switching them off and shoving through belts they heeded only the glowing white form of Gabriel’s deceased uncle.
At last they exited the foul mist and saw a room with burning torches set in the stone walls. It was centuries old. The air was strangely sweet yet sickly. A sensation of pressure engulfed them and distant singing caressed their ears.
“Spell-craft; be cautious Tabitha.”
“The Lord is my shield and strength, Gabriel, I shall not fail.”
“I shall go first, if I fall then finish him and spare me no thoughts until it is done.”
Tabitha’s voice wavered, “Yes, my brother in everything but blood.”
Gabriel smiled, fighting tears, “The same, sister. Look after them all.”
He meant his family, including their friends. Tabitha understood and, accepting the incense, she followed, wafting it as he prayed. Proceeding through the outer chamber they espied tables full of various implements to measure out herbs, to grind them (pestle and mortar) and glasses to mix.
Pots and a cauldron over cold hearths stood ready. There were no books and Gabriel suspected they were next to the vampire. Cleansing the room was hard work and fifteen minutes passed before finally they could breathe easily.
The black mist had shrank, but stayed resolutely. His uncle vanished by an oaken door with a final smile. So, here would be the vampire.
Not looking at Tabitha in fear of seeing any hesitation or tears, Gabriel heaved the heavy door open, his muscles straining in his arms and back. His legs dug into the earthen floor and sweat broke out over his body until the door began to yield. Eventually it was open enough for them to slip through.
Gabriel caught his breath and shook out his arms. The room they were in was spacious and full of shelves stuffed with books, so old that Gabriel itched to read them. Denying their pull over him, Gabriel focused on the centre of the room against the wall. A blue light shimmered around the sleeping form of the vampire.
Slowly and cautiously Gabriel approached. Tabitha paused before the blue light so Gabriel risked turning his head in her direction. Tabitha was setting the incense up in the holders. Meeting his stare she rose, her mask adding to the illusion of power and might.
“I shall begin reading my passage and praying while you do what must be done. Make it quick for the sake of whoever he once was and for Dafydd.”
Gabriel nodded, heart beating fast, blood fierce in his veins, the sound roaring in his ears. Squaring his shoulders Gabriel drew the broadsword from his scabbard – the real thing, one he only used in re-enactments or for private events at his home. Now it would see real work.
Tabitha poured what remained of their Holy Water over the blade and they prayed. Heads bowed Gabriel poured himself into the prayer:
“Lord, we beseech you. By your will may this blade be blessed and strike down evil. We pray that by the use of this sword, an extension of our faith, that it brings release to the souls of both concerned: whoever the vampire was in life and our dear friend Dafydd. Your will be done. Amen.”
Unclasping her hands from the hilt, Tabitha stood back and picked up her Bible without further ado, apart from a faint smile.
Gabriel strode forward the blue light like a shimmering veil around him. It reminded Gabriel of standing in a water fall: the same dance of water and play of light yet with pure visibility.
The vampire was stretched out on a bed under which earth had been piled. His native earth? Gabriel wondered. Dafydd would know. Sadness wound its way into his heart and Gabriel paused by the sleeping form.
He was handsome in repose, hard white features relaxed, but the sharp cruel ivory teeth rested on the bottom lip. Those lips were scarlet, shocking in their brightness. Fair hair was arrayed on the pillow, with the blue light casting a strange wash through it so the gold shone underneath a pale blue veil.
Gabriel used his left hand to draw back the covers until the vampire was free to view.
He was clad in a navy blue robe with azure embellishments. A simple belt of gold encircled the waist. Soft slippers seemed to cloak his feet, his hands rested on his belly and had rings of gold. The stones were varied, crystals, rose quartz and amethyst. A single ruby glinted in the eye of a dragon. The other stones probably meant something in magic and Gabriel wondered if they were hold overs from its previous life for they seemed less tarnished from evil.
Tabitha’s voice reached him through the blue light and Gabriel knew it was time.
“…’Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’…”
Gabriel clasped the hilt with both hands and raised his sword.
“Lord be with me. Mary, Mother of God, be with this poor sinner now so I may bring peace.”
“But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’”
Gabriel brought his sword down with all his strength, piercing the heart of the vampire. The creature woke with an inhuman scream. Gabriel met the foul stare and called upon St Michael the archangel. His words incensed the vampire and froth bubbled in its mouth.
“…And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him…”
The vampire howled and thrashed but Gabriel held firm, never wavering from those angry eyes. His voice remained firm as he finished the St Michael prayer.
As Tabitha and he finished, the vampire stopped thrashing, the light dying in those scarlet orbs and slowly a change happened. The vampire slumped back his sword impaled in its chest and grew still.
A blue colour leeched back into the eyes and for a single breath they fixed upon Gabriel a gaze of pure thanks, happiness and wonderment. The man had returned and his mouth opened once with no sound but the canines had disappeared and a normal red tongue flicked over natural teeth. A sigh escaped as a loving smile turned up the corners of his mouth.
His gaze rested in the distance as if he saw someone he knew. A shape of a man glimmered, ghostly and in armored, hand outstretched. Gabriel was full of wonder as two pale forms vanished like mist.
The blue light extinguished and Tabitha was by his side. Her eyes were equally shocked and she cried out. Gabriel saw the vampire’s body turn to dust and scatter in a sudden fresh breeze full of heavenly music. The sound was so lovely Tabitha knelt and so did Gabriel. His sword turned to dust also, purpose fulfilled.
Sobbing with joy at it all, Gabriel whispered the Hail Mary, for at the hour of death it seemed appropriate. Tabitha also prayed her own words.
Afterward, still aglow with an incredible joy, they laid flowers, lit candles, incense and departed. The black mist was no more and as they gained the landing the door vanished – forever, Gabriel suspected.
Laughing they both ran, for Gabriel was anxious to see Dafydd and Anna. His heart was pounding as he reached the ground floor and saw Anna slumped over Dafydd’s sleeping form. The window must have broken for glass lay inside, yet the pane was fixed.
Rushing to Anna, Gabriel was overcome with relief. The fog had gone and with it the frightening shapes.
“She is well, Tabitha. Wake up, little sister.” Gently shaking Anna, Gabriel allowed more tears to fall when her brown eyes met his.
“Oh is it over?” she asked.
Gabriel nodded, “Yes, but how is Dafydd?”
“Awake,” came the hoarse voice of their friend.
Tabitha threw herself on him and he moaned in complaint. Tabitha ignored that, laughing and crying.
“You’re free again, you idiot. I have never been so happy. No more stupid luring of vampires, Dafydd.”
Dafydd smiled and his teeth were normal, eyes remorseful yet happy. His features were pale but free of hardness and the unnatural ethereal handsomeness. He stroked Tabitha’s back.
“I promise. Thank you, all of you. My soul – and his – is free.” Too weary to speak further Dafydd fell back and shut his eyes.
Anna clasped his hand, tears falling. “You’re welcome, Dafydd.”
Gabriel kissed his friend’s head.
“Always, though preferably not any time soon. Rest now and we shall depart once our priest and minister have arrived.”
Glancing at his watch, Gabriel nearly collapsed beside Anna, who was also exhausted. Tabitha stretched out beside Dafydd so Gabriel arranged Anna so she could lie next to Dafydd.
“It is only 10am, everyone. A lifetime seems to have passed. Rest, I shall call them then sleep an hour.”
Anna nodded, already near sleep. Tabitha murmured agreement and that she would watch over them too.
Finally it was over and Gabriel whispered, “Thanks be to God, Holy Mary Queen of Poland – ever watching over us – and His Angels.”
* * *
My thanks to my friend who supported me through this venture.
1.) The Bible passage Tabitha read is Mark 1:21-28.
2.) The St Michael prayer can be found here:
3.) Concerning Mary repelling demons:
4.) No lack of respect is meant regarding calling Mary the Queen of Poland, rather it is a symbol of great respect and love for the Mother of God. She has saved Poland more than once in our long history. The following websites explain the reason very well:
I think it goes without saying that you should always refer to a priest or minister when wishing to exorcise demons from your home or someone. The Catholic Church has trained exorcists (as do other denominations, I understand), who will assess whether it is medical or spiritual and decide whether one must be done.
My tale was one involving desperate circumstances. Of course anyone can pray which does assist. Just be sensible.