Self Sacrifice

The castle rose ominously above the farms, it was squat and ugly and lit by the blood red light of sunset. Maritza pulled her blue shawl tighter around her shoulders as she climbed up the twisting path. No one watched her go, everyone had gone inside long ago. She clutched at the neck of the wine bottle she had been drinking from as if it were a talisman to ward off evil. At the gate she stopped, gulped down the rest of the bottle and threw it to the side. She then took out a rather large needle, she watched the last hints of the sunset disappear. She wanted someone to be there, to tell her not to do this. No one came, because no one knew. She had made sure of that. No one could know, because if she failed he would come down hard upon them. He could smell lies, better they be telling the truth when they tell him they didn’t know.

She bit her lip as she thrust the needle into her thigh. With a gasp she collapsed to the ground and clapped a hand over the bleeding opening. With her eyes closed she bandaged her leg and dropped her skirt back over her leg. She opened her eyes to see twilight already fleeing, it was time.

Her hand beat out a nervous rhythm on the great gate. She waited for some answer and once more her mind strayed back to the deed. She wished someone knew what she was doing, being completely selfless was hard. The door creaked open to reveal him.

“My dear, what on earth is wrong?” He asked, too kind. He was always too kind to women.

She let her leg buckle from under her and stumbled into his arms, “Baron, I have nothing more to live for in this dark world.”

She could feel his lips brush her neck as he held her upright, he moaned slightly, then seemed to collect himself. He supported her, almost carrying her to a lounge in his parlour. He poured her a glass of wine and she gulped it down with vigour.

“There are other ways to die.” He said simply, he was smart.

“I heard it was painless,” She said, but she knew this would not be enough, “And I wanted to ask you for something in return.”

“Ah, I have done deals like these before.” The baron said, she avoided looking at his smile, “What do you wish?”

“Leave,” Maritza gulped, “Please leave my sister alone, and let her leave the village if she wishes.”

“Your sister?”

“She’s 4 at the moment,” Maritza said, “Irma, the bakers youngest… only daughter.”

“Very well, I give you my word that I won’t harm a hair on her head.”

Maritza knew what that meant, but decided to act stupid. If this worked she would be safe. The word of the baron could be trusted, but she wondered which hair would be safe.”

“Thank you baron.” Maritza said, filling herself up with a third glass of wine.

“You are welcome dear.” The baron was watching her with noticeable hunger, “Tell me, how old are you?”

“16 baron.”

He almost drooled at that, and she felt relieved. Perhaps her delays out of fear had led to her being the right age. She sighed sighed, this was dragging on too long.

“When will you do it baron?”

“Soon dear, no need to rush, we have the entire night.”

“I don’t want to wait.” The alcohol began to slur her voice.

“Just have another glass of wine dear.”

Maritza obeyed, sort of glad she didn’t need to be sober to this. Maybe the strong wine would even disguise…

“Here let me take that.”

The baron was suddenly next to her, scooping up the glass which she had almost dropped. She was so drunk she began to notice things, the curls in his dark hair, the neatness of his suit, the sense of strength he exuded, the way his lips curved over prominent fangs. She didn’t even have time to think twice before his fangs plunged into her neck. There was a short stabbing of pain, followed by the feeling of floating. It was virtually painless, just like people had said. She drifted.

Her awareness snapped back as her neck began to hurt. He was still bent over her, lips pressed against her neck. Feeding. She could see her hand resting limply on his back, pale and bloodless. Surely she was almost gone. He pulled back suddenly from her, a terrifying grimace marring his almost handsome face.

“What have you done witch?”

She couldn’t answer, couldn’t even smile. She wondered how she could still see, she was empty, shouldn’t she be dead. He picked her up and threw her across the room. She didn’t feel the wall, but she heard the cracking of her ribcage. The baron strode over to her, but half way he collapsed, clutching at his heart. He struggled to return to his feet again, but after only one more step he burst into flame.

Maritza closed her eyes. No one would know, but it didn’t matter because now they were safe.

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