The patriarch of the Cullen family began as a heart-sick young man, struggling to find answers amid the chaos of the fearful witch hunts and unexplained murders that haunted the Dark Ages. While searching for the truth, he uncovers a reality more horrific than his deepest fears. When he is swallowed by the nightmare he chooses to forsake his own salvation to protect the very people who would hunt him down and burn him, if only they knew the truth.
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*This story synopsis is by NTF (Thanks Maggie!) and this story is based on pages 330-337 from Twilight (Thanks, SM!) Also thanks to Poppy for doing some 17th c research for me!! Thank you all!
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Chp. 1 part 1 page one
Chp. 1 part 2 page two
Chp 2 page four
Chp 3 page five
Chp 4 page six
Chp 5 page ten
Chp 5 part 2 page fourteen
Chp 6 page fifteen
Chp 6 part 2 page sixteen
Chp 7 page nineteen
Chp 8 page twenty
* I will TRY to post every Friday! So check back THIS FRIDAY!
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
The icy wind hit my face, stinging it with a salty mist. A volatile storm was blowing in across the frigid waters of the Atlantic. The once expansive view of the Aran Islands and Hag’s Head was disappearing into the ominous black storm clouds moving across the sea. The churning, murky water nearly two hundred meters below beckoned to me. This was it. My final escape from the nightmare I was living.
“God, forgive me!” I yelled into the onslaught of the wind. But my voice was lost in the roar of the gust and the crashing of the waters on the rocks far beneath me. No matter. He could not hear me. I was already damned. Lightning exploded across the vast expanse between the water and sky. The echo of thunder rang in my ears. There was no escape from the monster I had become. Except this final death. I took one ultimate breath and stepped off the ledge.
One Year Earlier
Church of St Bartholomew
The young girl was laid in a simple pine coffin in the nave at the back of the cathedral. Even in the dim light filtering through the clerestory above, it was clear that there was something odd about her. Her skin was extremely pale. Much whiter than any other corpse I’d ever seen.
She was the fifth townsperson to die this year. All the victims had been found in the same manner. They were drained of all blood and found lying in the gutters. The first four had been street urchins and beggars. But this girl was from a well to do merchant family. The town was in an uproar over it.
Drawing close, it was difficult to not be distracted by her eyes. They were frozen wide open and appeared to reflect the horror of whatever did her in. So unnerving were her eyes, that I almost missed the fine, linear teeth marks upon her throat.
“Father, look at this,” I called, my voice husky with emotion.
Father Richard Cullen approached and gave a cursory look at the girl’s neck.
“What do you make of it, Father?” I asked.
“I am not interested in further analysis, Carlisle. It is clear that this girl was murdered. We know who was with her last and there are several witnesses who” He broke off as the doors at the west end façade rattled and fists resounded upon it.
An angry mob broke through the doors and spilled into the aisle ways. The uproar of their voices was amplified as it reflected off the vaulted stone ceilings. Two men gripped a woman by her upper arms and forced her up the aisle towards my father. Her dark eyes were wide with fright. She was dowdy and middle-aged with only a ragged brown dress for clothing. Her curly black hair was streaked with gray and haphazardly strewn about her head. She was thrown down at the feet of my father.
“This is the woman who murdered little Katie Buchanen,” the tall man accused. The crowd responded eagerly endorsing his remark.
My father motioned for silence. “What evidence do you have, John? What witnesses?” he inquired.
Several from the crowd spoke up, their voices overlapping one another.
“She was seen last with the girl.”
“I know she’s a witch, she caused me to be delirious last week.”
“I had a headache and stomach pains because of her black magic.”
“She’s not married because she murdered her first husband.”
“I found Katie’s blood in her house!”
The last speaker pushed forward holding a ceramic flask. He pulled the cork and displayed the thick, red substance to the crowd. This ignited the mob and they began to chant in unison.
“Hang her! Hang her!”
The tall man named John looked to my father for approval. Richard Cullen nodded once. With that, the crowd took up the woman and drug her out the door. Their voices growing louder in an ever increasing crescendo.
Only my father, the corpse, and I were left in the nave. I refused to look at him as I turned on my heels and stormed outside.
I didn’t have much time. The crowd was out of control and empowered by the consent of my father. I was angry at him. He was more interested in appeasing the multitudes than doing what was right. I felt confident this woman did not cause the death of young Katie or any of the others. I would just have to convince them of it.
The light was slowly fading in the western sky. The haze of smoke from a bonfire blocked the colorful rays of the sunset from view. Light from the blaze reflected off the stone pillars of the priory causing their elongated shadows to fall across the cobblestone courtyard. Looming above me was the scaffolding with a noose dangling ominously in the stagnant, hazy air.
The haggard woman was slumped on the ground and several men were attempting to tie her hands and legs together atop the scaffolding. They forced her to a standing position and cinched the noose about her neck. I pushed through the crowd. I needed to get there before it was too late. As the men who were tying the woman climbed down, I scrambled up. I stood up in front of the woman and spread my arms wide.
“Citizens! Friends! I beg of you not to do this deed you will regret!” I shouted to the crowd.
Someone in the back hollered, “Are you for the witch or against her?”
“Neither! I am for justice and I have proof that this woman did not murder anyone!”
A hush fell over the mob as I made this statement. I suddenly grew nervous as every eye was one me, waiting and watching. I did not exactly have proof, but rather a gut feeling that this woman did not commit the crimes. Silently, I prayed for God to direct my words and give me strength.
“I was examining the body of Katie and discovered teeth marks in her neck. This is not the crime of a witch but of something else more sinister.”
“A vampire?” an elderly woman in the front cried out in fear .
I gently cupped the chin of the woman at the stake with my hand. “See, this woman does not even have enough teeth to have been the one to make the markings I saw on Katie’s throat.”
The accused witch opened her mouth to display three withered and rotting teeth. And one of them was quite loose. The crowd began to murmur amongst themselves. Taking advantage of their distraction, I began to swiftly untie her and she fell at my feet, and kissed the tops of my boots. I bent down and whispered into her ear, “Go, my dear woman, no one condemns you.” I extended my hand and helped her down from firewood. She shuffled off with a limping gait through an alley behind the church into the darkness.
A young man approached me with a wary eye, then turned to the crowd. “We still have a killer on the loose. How can our families be safe whilst a fiend roams the streets of London?”
The throng began to shout their agreement. Women held their children close and men raised their fists into the air. I knew they would not rest until a scapegoat was found. Involuntarily, I found myself motioning for silence. Unwillingly, the words came out of my mouth, “I will lead the raids to find the cause of these deaths.”
This appeased the crowd and several of the men I knew, including Samuel, William, and Thomas stepped forward to join me. As the throng dispersed, we discussed our next meeting time to search out the murderer. Although with the rate of the deaths we’d been seeing, there was easily more than one.
The sky was now completely dark, save the stars. Small groups of townsfolk stood in huddles around the bonfire, continuing to discuss the evening’s events. I was perspiring both from the heat of the bonfire and the stress of standing up for the accused. I needed solitude and a place to escape. I knew just the spot.
I took off down the street toward the Thames River. There was an exposed bank along the water dotted with trees and a clear view of the river that was my favorite place as a child. My friends and I enjoyed this spot year round; sledding down it in the winter onto the ice, swimming in the summer. After a brisk walk, I found it.
Taking off my boots, I sank down into the grass and folded my hands behind my head. The night sky was majestic. Constellations were brilliant against the charcoal blanket of velvet. The moon was but a sliver of light, causing the stars to appear even more dazzling. It was in these moments that I was reminded of how small I was in comparison to God’s creation. I was but a speck of dust upon the earth versus the vastness of the heavens. In a strange way this was comforting to me, as I knew that my problems were small from the viewpoint of the Creator of the Universe.
Behind me I heard a rustling of skirts. “Lovely view, isn’t it?” a charming feminine voice asked.
Startled from my reverie, I sat up quickly. Molly Taylor gently arranged her skirts and knelt down a few feet away. We had grown up together and played on this very hill as children. She had been in my class in primary school, but then I hadn’t seen her much during the last several years, except from a distance. Women were not allowed to go past the sixth year of school and so we had parted ways. She was the daughter of a tailor and now spent her days in the mill sewing clothing along with her mother, father and sisters. I had been studying under my father and the archdiocese to take his place as the head of the Anglican Church. Most of my hours were spent immersed in books and the Scriptures. I had not noticed how beautiful she had become.
As she looked out over the river, I stole a long glance at her. Molly’s dark curls surrounded her face like a halo, contrasting with her pale china doll complexion. Her lips were the color of the strawberries we used to pick as children. She turned unexpectedly and caught me staring at her. Our eyes locked for a moment, her sultry caramel colored eyes looked deep into my blue ones. Simultaneously we both looked away.
“I wanted to thank you for what you did for Agnes,” she said breaking the silence.
“You knew the accused woman?” I asked, shocked. No one had known much about her except that she kept to herself and was a widow. Although I shouldn’t have been surprised that Molly knew her. Molly was a friend to everyone she met.
“Yes, she would stop by the weaving mill to search the refuse pile out back in the alley. I used to bring her food. She was shy and misunderstood. I am so grateful that you stood up for her tonight.” Molly looked back at me through her long delicate eyelashes.
I was speechless for a few minutes as I was drawn into the depths of her brown eyes. Recovering, I stuttered, “You’re welcome.”
Molly stood and gathered her skirts about her. “I must be off. Father will be worried.”
I stood quickly and offered to walk her home. She demurred at first, but I pressed that the streets were still dangerous. Finally she agreed and we began to walk at a brisk pace through the winding roads towards her home. An evening fog had blown in off the river and it was difficult to see more than a few yards in front of us. Only the scant light from infrequent street lanterns provided any illumination of our path. They cast shadows creating a spooky atmosphere against the fog.
“Do you believe vampires exist?” Molly asked quietly.
I pursed my lips in thought. “I don’t know. They are the things of myths and legends. But every legend is based in some truth. I can’t explain the marks on the necks of the deceased and the lack of blood in their bodies any other way. What else would do that?”
We continued to walk in silence. My question hung unanswered in the muggy night air. At this hour it was very quiet. The normally bustling streets were empty and desolate. As we turned the next corner, nothing had changed. Yet I now sensed a formidable presence. I looked over at Molly and saw she could sense it too. The hairs on the back of her arms stood up on end.Please don't just read and leave! I really need you to comment!! What did you think? What did you like/not like? What should happen next? Questions? Please comment!!!!!REST OF CHAPTER ON PAGE 2