The plain black envelope lay on the floor in the hallway; it had lain there all day undisturbed. Without a shadow of a doubt I knew who had sent it and yet I was still unable to open it. My mind was racing and my heart was thumping. I felt scared yet elated but why now, especially after the events of this particular evening? My actions, dormant for so long had once again taken me way outside of society’s norms and right back into a place beyond normal comprehension.
Still starring at the envelope, I recognized at once the familiar shiny black wax seal. It was definitely his seal, his sigil. Only an elite and chosen few had ever actually seen it for real, had ever been privy to knowing. I tentively picked up the envelope as I made my way into the tiny kitchen to make a much needed coffee. My heart thumping in my mouth I placed the envelope on the kitchen table and put the kettle on.
Trying to keep calm and acting as normal as I could; I ushered my ‘new companion’ into the sitting room and went back into the kitchen, thinking… It had been years since I had seen ‘him’ and yet I always knew we were destined to meet again one day, for one last time.
The kettle boiled. I rinsed out the cafetiere with the hot bubbling water before spooning in the very special dark coffee blend which I so loved. When filled with hot water I took the steaming cafetiere over to the table, I fetched two pretty china cups (I have always hated coffee in a mug) and sat down for a moment and simply stared.
I plunged the plunger of the cafetiere down into the dark, steamy liquid. Was it my imagination or did something plunge into my heart too? What ever it was, my heart was most certainly pounding. Pouring out the coffee and sipping the dark deliciousness before me, I reached out and touched the black envelope. But suddenly shuddering I put the envelope back down on the table while I drank my coffee… I had forgotten my ‘companion’ waiting all alone on my old comfy sofa; I offered him coffee in a cup, but my mind was racing; buzzing, was elsewhere…
I never fitted in, ever. Even before….
Thoughts now raced inside my head, my brain throwing up those feelings and memories of earlier times; long ago memories, it all came flooding back. A rusty old key in my Pandora’s Box of a head had been turned….
I had never found my place within so called society. I never played the game, even all those years ago before it happened. I was always a threshold walker lurking on the fringes of society pretending to belong; pretending to be human. Even way back in those distant times, in my early adult days when I was still one hundred percent human, I could still not find it within myself to fit in. Oh I tried, I tried to fit in, tried so hard to belong. Yet being a part of the human race never really cut it for me. I knew they mocked me from afar; my peers, some even to my face. All my contempories thought the same way; they despised me for daring to be different in an age when conformity was everything, when women were supposed to know their place.
I did try and play their silly games, I pretended for quite a while; pretended to belong. Pretended time and time again to walk the corridors of the mundane and thus I appeared to become whom they wanted me to be. It took its toll on me though, I was so naïve in those far away days and yet was still desperately longing, even way back then for I knew not what. I was unhappy, frustrated and sick of my life and my so called privileged upbringing. My calling then was always of a different kind
My so called given destiny as a ‘lady’ was in the Court of the then King, whom too had terribly lost his way; but that’s another different tale entirely. How could I play these games, be used and curtail to a King who used his misplaced power in such a way? Longing for a male heir he disregarded the women who were born to please him, they all became carrion of his quest; his Queens. I viewed all this in silence; the deaths, the beheadings, the betrayals, always as an outsider lurking even then, on the fringes of courtly society, safe on the edges, secure in the shadows. Yet always with eyes wide open.
However I often sought solace and kinship amongst the noble and brave knights of the court, both on and off duty. From an early age I had been trained in the skills of a healer and herbalist which was something that thankfully took me out of the mundane day to day confines and rules of the court and I would often find myself tending to the needs of the knights. At first they did not notice me, apart from having a need of my skills as a healer but over time I earned their trust and became a confidant and friend. They seemed to know the true ways of the world and knew and hinted of unspoken things that I did not fully understand.
One knight in particular caught my eye, though he hardly ever spoke to me and certainly did not notice me, or so I thought. But there was ‘something’ about him; his eyes burned bright with an iridescent inner fire and even when alone in my quarters I often sensed those piercing, penetrating eyes burning into my back. He always seemed to be somehow older and wiser than the rest, maybe from wisdom and knowledge gained on his vast travels and experiences of the world.
My own yearning and quest for knowledge would regularly take me out into the shadows of night-time, outside of the safety net of the court and away from the knights. I was free-falling. I would don men’s attire and slip out while the court slept, returning before sunrise. Each night I crept stealthily along disgusting dank, dark alleyways where rats scuttled as I walked by. I would wander alone seeking out other like minded creatures. Souls who thought like me. I would frequent taverns and would drink warm ale aside a bright glowing fire, talking hours on end to seamen and travellers, listening intently to the songs of minstrels passing through. Wanting I knew not what. Always searching, always seeking, always listening, until one night. Was it fate? Destiny? Or just chance?
I met whom I thought to be another traveller from a land afar; he was dressed in colourful flowing robes. Dressed in a way not of these lands, his face mostly covered yet there was something very familiar about him even though I could not see his actual face. We talked and he told me tales of a land unknown to me; his land, his homeland. A land of forgotten forests, of dark mists and mysteries, of castles where old souls resided; souls who never saw the light of day. And of Alchemy and Magic and he held me spellbound with his tellings.
Little by little he entered my soul; I became beholden by him and one night as I looked into his shaded eyes, he lifted my hand to plant a gentle kiss upon and in that instant I knew, I recognised those half hidden eyes, those fiery piercing eyes; those very same eyes that I had looked into so many times back at the Court. Nothing in this life is unplanned or happens by chance and in that moment I knew it for sure. I knew my destiny and I had finally met…
He told me tales of the Old Ones, the immortals who trod the earthly plane unseen, for it was they he said, who kept Guardianship upon the Earth; it was they who kept the secrets, it was they who really wove the affairs of man. Silently and secretly they trod the Earth, never leaving a clue. I was enthralled by his tales. And by him. Was he one of them; was he an Old One too, I wondered?
We would meet several times a week in that dark little back room away from the rest of the tavern; that dark smoky little room that smelt of stale food, musty drapes and unwashed bodies. Far away from the rest of the Court. My heart would beat six to the dozen when he spoke..
Just as it is doing now looking at that envelope…
He promised to one day take me back with him, to that mysterious land. That land that somehow I could never quite locate on the maps of time and yet I could never deny its reality either. Little by little he shared his existence with me and of whom he really was and yet like all good and true tales, talking is never ever enough. There comes a point in time when the talking has to end. Desire and passion can suddenly move a story on in a way no one can ever predict. Illusions are shattered or intensified by just one sweet kiss; one sweet tormented seductive kiss from a man with the Blood Rose on his lips.
All dreams and desires woven innocently in the daylight are forever torn to threads in the nightly hours. In one moment of a dark and silent embrace, life changes forever… Yet I allowed it to happen, craved it to happen. My future life as a human burned on the funeral pyre of immortality. And thus so it was; that was my time, my making, my raising, my becoming. The doors of my new world beckoned and I walked on through…
And so we left the safety net of the Court. For all the faults of courtly life it did hold us tight to its bosom and provide a cloak of normality that clothed us in a comforting glamour. The journey back to his world was long and ardarous. We employed many different forms of transport and help from many kind locals along the way. Always travelling at night we passed through lands I only ever dreamt of previously. I was still weak though and had not yet grown fully into my new persona, but as we travelled he taught me; showed me how to be me. He passed on all he knew as he guided me towards my destiny. And he taught me the Ways of the Blood; so that I too could live within the world of man; seen yet unseen, kKnown but not known. He taught me how to be gentle and that I need not kill to survive. He showed me how to gain the trust of humans and that if I was very patient they would offer willingly the sweetest of all gifts. And so it was, growing stronger everyday, we arrived together at his family home
Half castle, half cave, half hidden in an imposing cliff face that overshadowed a vast leafy gorge. And it was well hidden for I could hardly see it until we were almost upon it. When I looked more closely; it was not really a castle at all but just castle-like, formed out of the rock face and which in a certain light disappeared right back into it again. The décor inside his home was very sparse, though what was there was very well chosen and of the highest quality. There were artefacts obtained from many places, all over the earth, from different centuries even yet they seemed unloved, uncherished; almost as trophies. In hind sight, looking back now, I realise that some of his treasures were long lost from the world of man and some had even gained mythical status as never really having existed at all yet here they were. I wondered how he had obtained such items, many of which were holy, sacred items associated with biblical times. They all looked new.
No light entered our world for we were indeed well hidden underground, many of the rooms, if you could call them that, having no windows or doors to the outside world. We lived in peace. In seclusion and in darkness. We did make love and it was wonderful yet it almost secondary at that point in time to the real passion; the real fire that mapped our lives and that which would guide us through the centuries
Outside the cold walls of our fortress I knew that other creatures survived. Wolves in particular, who would hunt in packs and were very good at it; very good at devouring every morsel of their prey, leaving no trace. They always seemed to know when they would be welcomed at the castle; teaching us the lessons of the hunt they lived among us. We however did not always play by the rules. Passion and desire and an instinct that had to be released from time to time did take over now and again and the wolves saw to it that no trace of our dinning ever met the morning sun. But our ‘prey’ needed to be wined and dined and softened up beforehand. And worst of all we had to be nice to them! And as our broken rules went unseen in the world, time came and went and together we noticed nothing; safe and secure in a world of our making
Yet nothing stays the same for ever and while we ‘slept’ the world changed; wars raged, the Great War raged and raged again. The Cold War raged, modes of travel changed, communication changed, man even went into so called space. There was no longer any place in the world for a forgotten forest and as humanity closed in on us, as we always new it would, it became evident that it was time to move on once more. Time to go our separate ways; for our kind, our kin still had great work to complete in the modern world. Would we ever even meet again? Who knew? We did not. He had taught me well. I knew how to survive on my own now, in this modern world of mankind; i knew I had great works to fulfill. We could no longer survive as a pair, that i did know; the world had become wise, had shrunk and was far too dangerous now. Our world; our cushion of comfort could be hidden no more
The bitter sweetness of our goodbye when it inevitably came was overwhelming and tore me apart. I was his child of darkness, he was my father, my sweet Knight, my lover. We were bound in blood yet would always know the safety of the other and yet the demise also; our hearts now beat as one. And yet on that never to be forgotten damp grey day outside those castle walls our destinies moved us in opposite directions.
And so it was that I thus disappeared alone into the world. I became a spectre. I hid all that I was from this new world and I played their game. My true identity gone for I had other affairs to look after now. I could weave the webs myself now, i would change history, i would be the puppet master behind the puppets. I would guide destiny in the way that the Old Ones desired. My hand was indeed the hand of fate that tormented humanity.
Over the years, into the twentieth and twenty first centuries it was so easy to leave my mark; easy to see where I had been. Though of course, you had to know, to know. Skirmishes, uprisings, freedom fighting, discontent, wars raging between nations, world agitation on a vast scale, famines, deaths; that was all so me. There were a few time when I thought our paths almost crossed, mine and his, my Knight. For he left his mark too; a forest inferno, a blown volcano, vast earthquakes that caused so much havoc, death, destruction, tsunamis and chaos, and I knew, I just knew how much fun he was having with the global warming thing – so him. Whatever you may think my friends we were simply trying to awaken the world. Trying to get them to see the error of their ways before it was too late; to wake them up with a bang. But in my heart; my fear was that it was already too late. Far too late, for no one cared anymore, no one listened and no one saw the error of their ways. And so the years rolled on and eventually, I kind of withdrew from the world completely. And my love? He totally vanished too. No trace. No clues for years; it was too quiet, something was missing. Everything had become too easy and a certain kind of dangerous normality set in; a normality of death, chaos and destruction.
I had held my carnal urges totally in check for years for fear of discovery. was living a half life; until now; until that night; this night when I caught the eye of one very handsome young man. Totally by chance. I had decided it was time to be on the move again; to move to a different city under cover of darkness leaving all traces of my recent past right where they belonged, in another lifetime. Move on, re-invent myself. I was even thinking of maybe a bit of world travel again, maybe even a bit of old time fun; ah bring back the old times or try anyway. Maybe even give humanity one last chance, one final stupendous curtain call to at last awaken them all. I was having fun just thinking about it.
So here I was sitting in this little late night coffee shop just one turn off the main street and three turns from my cosy little flat, just starring into my cup of dark black coffee. Pondering on my future, making my plans oblivious to all around me; sitting, stirring, starring. Then out of the blue and waking me right up from my thoughts he sat down opposite me…
My eternal spirit, which I had to admit, had started to falter a bit lately, skipped a merry beat I can tell you and tonight I knew I could stand it no longer. My preternal nature, dormant for so long was once again taking hold, was mapping my destiny and giving me a nudge. It had been such a long, long time and he was so beautiful, trouble was he knew it so I played him along. Easy. I could glamour him and be anything he wanted me to be, such a beauty and putty in my hands. After so long denying I needed to savour; needed a saviour to rescue me from the world and the rut I had fallen into. I had worked so hard over the years and needed to taste the sweetness of all that had been forgotten. Once again I was ready. Let’s not beat around the bush; waiting upon that darksome compelling threshold in that little coffee shop, i knew there was going to be a culling tonight and nothing would ever be the same again; well not for him. Sadly, though happily for me, he was so up himself that he failed to notice the source of my desire, my passion and my true need. For me it was survival and renewal pure and simple and a re-acknowledgement of whom I really was. A long submerged truth was re-surfacing; was re-awakening, a rebirth of something that I had held latent for oh so long. And now my heart was beating so fast that I feared it would take flight and soar from my very chest.
I was reminded of the early days so long ago when I first encountered my own beautiful maker. I knew that if he did ever contacted me again it would be for very good reasons; the reasons of which at this time, I hardly dared to think about. We had made that pact, all those years ago before, before we had even parted, and we had signed it in our own blood. To bind, to hold, forever as one. Yet somehow as the years went by, after we parted and he had vanished from my life and thoughts, and even as i knew he would, from the world at large, time and tide took hold and dust settled upon my eyelids and the importance of our pact seemed to fade from me into distant memory. And so the centuries went by, until now that is…
So what to do I wondered? I will invite him, this eager, handsome stranger, home for a nightcap, take a bath and think about it. Ponder on it. Then decide what to do with him. Although deep down I knew I was only fooling myself, was just prolonging the inevitable. But events as they always do, took an unexpected turn, call it a twist of fate if you will, but here I was trying to drink this coffee with the mysterious, unopened envelope in front of me and my stranger, albeit delicious stranger, now falling asleep on my couch.
I never the less took a very deep breath and went upstairs, threw off all my clothes and ran a very hot scented bath and slowely breathed in the aroma of beautiful frankincense, that usually did the trick. I was tense and feeling very apprehensive now; he was waiting downstairs, sleepy but expectantly. I now had a heightened sense of anticipation and perception of everything around me. My usually blissful bath seemed like a minefield of unanswered questions; all just waiting to explode in my face with the perfumed bubbles. I tried to relax, yet all I could see in my minds eye, was that old rucksack; the tatty old rucksack that had remained hidden in my closet for years waiting for the right time; the right signal. A mysterious black envelope in fact.
If I never opened it, the envelope, would it still be true? Would the inevitable still happen? Would ‘he’ do it all on his own? Was the pact indeed still binding? I emptied the bath water. I climbed out of the bath and donned my fluffy purple bathrobe and with that special bath time glow all around me I went downstairs. I entered into the sitting room and ignoring my now slumbering guest, i lit the candles. No electrics; just candles. The warm flickering glow looked amazing and I felt suddenly more relaxed and open to all that life may throw at me. I walked back into the kitchen and picked up the envelope. I was suddenly aware for the first time of the very musty, pungent aroma that seemed to be emanating from it. It smelt of dank, dark places and of worlds untrodden or undiscovered by mankind. It smelt of his world; our world. It smelt of that long ago castle. But also it smelt of that little back room behind the tavern where we had met all those many, many centuries ago. I wondered if this was deliberate; planned by him? For the longer I held the envelope in my hand, the stronger the aroma became.
There was a heat manifesting from it too which was becoming unbearable to my hands. I sat down quickly on the floor of my sitting room and watched in amazement as the wax seal, ‘his’ seal, melted spontaneously before my eyes. Oh what a good trick indeed, I thought. You always were so very good at an effect or two. Yet before I had had time to see these thoughts completely through, the envelope spontaneously burst into flames in my now increasingly warm hands. Quickly I threw the whole burning envelope into the nearest candle base, just before my carpet could catch light. However as quickly as it had started the fire was out, gone, as if it had never been there in the first place. All that was left in my glass candle dish was a white, delicately black edged card; an invitation in fact.
It was as if he knew I would not open it straight away. As if he knew, all these centuries later that I would hesitate, so he had solved the problem for me. From somewhere, a very long way away I felt him grin. Yet also he had provided me with so much more. I took a deep breath, picked up the invitation and sat down once again in the middle of my sitting room floor. I looked hard at the card in my hand but there was nothing on it. Well nothing that even my eyes could see; Just an embossed black line all around the edge. Now what I thought? He certainly wasn’t making this easy for me. Maybe heat it again, as that seemed to be his thing? But no that was far too obvious, maybe water then I wondered? I went into the kitchen and filled a small bowl with cold water and bought it back into the sitting room. I once more seated myself on the floor; candles all around and the cool, clear water in the middle in front of me. Quick as a flash I dipped the card in and out of the water and laid it on the floor in front of me. I stared in disbelief as words began to appear before me on the card. As if by magic I thought, but then magic was certainly his thing too. And dam it, beguilement and he was beguiling me now, just as he had all those centuries before. I could scarcely breathe. The words appeared as thus and I read them out loud as they appeared:
It was signed in blood; of course it was. But yet it was signed in ‘our’ blood; the blood that was still binding and still, after all these years, held our pact within its ruby red secrets. So this was it then? The end game had finally come; the fall of mankind. Fate and destiny merging into one. All the relevant planets in alignment stacking up like giant bowling balls racing towards the final score and yet one extra one at the helm….
Yet why was he calling himself Lucifer again I wondered? I had known him by another name for years. Immediately I had this thought, i could see him in my minds eyes signing the invitation with a mischievous wink in his eye, knowing that only I would ever know and grasp the final truth. I glanced at the sleeping body on the couch. Oh sod it I thought; if not now then when? I reached over to the beautiful stranger and woke him just in time enough for him to realise what was about to happen before feeding deeply and irrevocally from his warm soft flesh. In his eyes bewilderment. In my eyes deep and utter joy…
Refreshed and renewed I went upstairs and got dressed. Warm, stout winter clothes, practical clothes. No glamour this time for me, not for where I would be heading or for what I would be doing for this was another kind of party entirely; the party to end all parties. The party before the fall. I found my old battered fleece, zipped it up tightly and then went to the closet to drag out that old rucksack; the contents of which had been organized and waiting for nigh on several centuries, the actual bags had changed over the years but the contents had always been ready. I slung it casually over my shoulder as I went downstairs into the kitchen to gather nibbles and a couple of bottles of water. I switched off the lights and looked longingly at the last drained cup of fresh coffee that I would probably ever taste. Popping into the sitting room, I glanced unemotionally at the lifeless body on the couch, also drained, then picked up the invite and put it in my rucksack and the very last thing I did before leaving the flat was to extinguish all my candles. I took a very deep long breath. It had been an interesting evening I thought.
I stood outside in the dark, on the kerb, the street lamp above me flickering slightly, just waiting in the darkness for I knew not what. But I guessed, when it happened, it would be something spectacular. I waited nearly an hour or more yet it seemed like a life time standing alone on that dark, damp suburban street. My brain was starting to ask me what the hell was I doing, yet my heart was beating six to the dozen and my soul was just soaring. I stared down at my chunky black Doc Martins I was wearing grinning to myself as I pictured myself in my sparkly red killer heels; those very same killer heels that now lay tucked in at the very bottom of my old rucksack – a touch that would make him smile to say the very lest…
Then wham! From out of nowhere it came; a faint rumble at first like a distant thunder, then building up to a crescendo of an almighty ear-splitting roar. Totally majestic and wow what a statement; what a bloody fucking return! What sublime style! My darling Knight atop a magnificently souped up motor cycle! This louder than loud revved-up, pimped-up motorbike engine was totally and literally on fire! And what was more; it was racing towards me at break-neck speed silhouetted against the vast black night sky; engines at full throttle, flames racing out of the exhausts as it flew thought the beautiful nightime! It was certainly no earthly vehicle I gasped. It came screeching and sliding towards me and stopped very abruptly to a halt only inches away from me. Then silence…
As the black-leather clad figure who rode aloft this all black, shiny beast of a bike stylishly and with great panache turned off the engine. He so knew my tastes. He could have come wearing anything. As anyone. Yet all this was staged just for me. He coolly ever so slightly tilted his head and lifted his visor. Taking off his black gloves and smiling enigmatically; he looked straight at me; holding out a hand… Dam it and fuck it; I so loved him whatever he was calling himself or dressing up as these days.
“Hey Babe, how about you and I rocking it up to the party of our lives; couldn’t do it without you kiddo.….”
I clamoured on board quicker than i had ever done anything in my entire life before and held on to him so tightly that my arms could have snapped right off there and then. And indeed my heart was doing just that. This was the fate and destiny that had been foretold for centuries and I for one was not going to miss it. Fuck it world! You had your chance! The Lord and Lady are back! So lets party!
Always the blood…