Not So Simple Life


Not So Simple Life is a short story showing the origin of the vampire Kor'Mor'Oka. It is set over 600 years before the White War.

Not So Simple Life

When he walked his footsteps echoed hauntingly in the stone hallway. The large, polished flagstones were copying him, displaying upside-down vague versions of him with distorted features. The large dark wooden doors loomed up ahead of the young man. Each door had a heavy grain running up its surface and the handles were iron rings. He stopped to pull the handles, the doors swung outward until he stepped inside. Quickly he turned and pulled the doors closed before walking on. To one side he could hear the chanting of the choir. With a slight smile he realised one of the men was off-key. The young man kept his hands together inside the long sleeves of his robe. The smell of candle wax, incense and flowers filled the air. It was oddly comforting to him. He continued walking until he reached an office. The young man knocked and waited. “Enter” the friendly voice said. As he opened the door and went in the voice said “Ah, Brother Samuel. What can I do for you today?”

Samuel smiled warmly “Abbot Zachariah. I wanted to let you know that the landscaping work is progressing well. I think that, should the gods will the weather to stay clear, we can finish in a week.”

The older man with short white hair nodded from behind his desk “That is good Samuel. It is good to see you finally finding something you are passionate about. How are your concerns?

The smile faded from Samuel’s face “I-I have been thinking about it, but not as much as before. I’d like to say I’m getting better, though that might not be accurate.”

The abbot replied “Remember Brother Samuel, faith is a healing power. Faith is what you were lacking but you are beginning to regain it. You are on the mend and projects such as this will help you to find meaning in life.”

Samuel nodded “Yes abbot. You are right of course. I will return to my meditations.” He bowed slightly and left the room.

Abbot Zachariah sighed. Samuel was a good man, a good monk. The older man hoped he would find his way again. He would pray for Samuel. Samuel had been with them for a long time, his whole life almost. The young man had been an orphan before joining the monks in the monastery. Samuel’s poor mother had died during childbirth. His father was a soldier, a devout soldier. Unable to look after the child because of his duties, and perhaps, Zachariah felt, a slight feeling of resentment to the child for living when his wife had died, the soldier father had left Samuel at the orphanage the monks ran before going off to war. It was a war he never returned from. A sad tale, the monk thought, but one with the possibility of a happy ending. Samuel’s whole life was ahead of him and Zachariah was sure he no longer harboured thoughts of killing himself. Faith was a great healer, it could overcome any obstacle. Samuel was a good man; he would do the right thing. The abbot could not imagine Samuel doing anything wrong.

Several days had passed since his discussion with the abbot. Brother Samuel stood back to survey his work. The landscaping had progressed as well as he could have expected. Another day would see it complete, the garden fully planted, and then it would just be a matter of tending to it. Now it was getting late though, the sky was growing dark and they should begin packing up. The area was about a mile from the monastery. Samuel turned to the diminutive Brother Malcolm and spoke “Malcolm, take Alrin and Jacob and head back to the monastery. I’ll join you shortly.”

Malcolm asked “Are you sure Brother Samuel? I don’t want to leave you out here alone.”

Samuel nodded with a smile “I’ll be fine Brother Malcolm. I just want to tidy up a few things.”

Malcolm scratched his head and responded “Very well Brother Samuel.” The other monks gathered their tools and began walking back to the monastery. After a few minutes they were out of sight.

As Samuel stood alone looking at their hard work he was almost sure he felt a chill down his spine. The wind was cool and it brushed around him gently like a sheet… or a shroud. It seemed to whip up leaves around him like a cloak, forming a vortex before dispersing. He held a hand up protectively before his eyes until the wind died back. Looking up slowly the monk noticed dark-edged clouds rolling slowly from the west. Dejected Samuel was sure that it would rain tonight, and that might hold up the work tomorrow. With the chill breath of the wind biting at his back, Samuel picked up some of the tools and placed them into a woven basket. Hefting it up, the young monk turned and took one last look at the ground before beginning to walk away towards the monastery. Even as he walked, getting closer to the dark clouds, he said to himself “I’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.” He continued walking, but he did not catch up with the others. Samuel felt the need to be by himself, to be alone with his thoughts. Samuel wanted so very much to make his project work. A small piece of land to grow vegetables and other plants and flowers, and something to be proud of. A simple life was what Samuel wanted now that he had found his direction. He had been like a ship adrift at sea, swaying listlessly this way and that without purpose. It had led him down a dark path, sending him crashing headfirst into depression. He had thoughts of taking his life, and like seeds planted in the soil these thoughts had sprouted, growing like vines. Growing like tangling, grasping, constricting vines they had almost consumed him. But his brother monks and the abbot had saved him, brought him back from the brink of oblivion. And like a man being led from years of darkness, Samuel had blinked as his eyes adjusted to the bright light again. Now everything seemed clearer and in sharp focus. It was better this way. Samuel looked up as he heard a noise. It was thunder. It was just a short burst, but enough to get his attention. The monk picked up his pace to reach the monastery. He was sure it was going to rain, and he did not want to get caught outside in a storm.

As he reached the walls of the monastery he noticed that the gates had been left open. These walls were not like any castle, they were simple walls to seal off the grounds of the monastery to the land around it which was not owned by the monks. Samuel walked through the tall gates and suddenly saw a body lying on the ground nearer to the doors into the monastery itself. Without hesitation Samuel ran over, recognising Brother Malcolm at once. Reaching the body, Samuel said “Malcolm! Malcolm? What hap…? I’ll get help.” He ran around the body of the other monk and rushed to the doors. They were slightly ajar, one closed and the other open. Samuel placed his hand on the open door and moved inside. Only once he stood within did he realise his hand was wet. Looking at it, even in the poor light, Samuel could see with startling clarity that his hand was covered in blood. Eyes wide in horror, the monk turned to look at the door which was now pushed completely open, seeing the slick blood which ran down the wood. He noticed a smell, a thick, strong smell of blood and other things too revolting for him to properly describe. Taking lurching steps forward, and looking around, he began to see the source. Over by the wall behind the closed door was the slumped form of Brother Jacob, blood pouring from his mouth, covering his chest and lap, with a vacant stare on his unblinking eyes. At the far left end of the entrance area, sprawled on a collapsed table, was Brother Alrin. As Samuel stepped closer, with confusion etched on his face, he realised that it was not all of Brother Alrin. A leg and half an arm were not where the rest of him was. A wide pool of blood surrounded the dead man, and more than this, thin and thick trails and spatters of blood arced and curled up and down the stone walls. Samuel began to shake; he did not know what to do anymore. He took hasty steps backwards, away from Alrin, away from the door, until he was past Jacob’s body. Suddenly his foot slipped on the stone floor. He reached out for the wall, grasping at it, and moaned fearfully when his other hand brushed the wet, viscous-coated stone. More blood, and looking down, Samuel realised he had slipped on blood on the floor as well. He jumped back in terror against the wet wall as he saw what lay on the floor. A severed leg was lying there, with gouged flesh hanging off the bone. It was like the remains of an animal carcass after a wolf attack. Still Samuel could not see Alrin’s arm. He peeled himself from the wall and tried to look away. Samuel was scared, more afraid than he had ever been in his life. But he had to find the other monks; he had to find out what had happened here. He had to know the answer to the question, what had done this?

He wanted to flee but he could not. He desperately wanted to but these were his friends, they were his family, they were his brothers. He had to go on, had to find out what was happening, he owed them that much, not to run and hide. His stomach was rebelling; it wanted to be left behind, at the door. His legs were heavy and stiff and leaden, conspiratorially they agreed with his stomach. But his head urged him onwards, his arms wading forward following the commands and the rest of him was dragged inexorably onwards. Samuel walked onwards, out of the entrance area and through the open passageway which led to the nave. There were more bloodstains here, smeared along the walls and even the ceiling.

Walking into the nave was like walking into a nightmare. Everywhere he looked Samuel saw blood and death. His nostrils were assaulted by the many smells. No longer were these smells of incense and flowers, they were smells of blood, dead bodies, some which had lost control of their bodily functions at the end, and another smell, one of something unholy. Everywhere Samuel looked he saw horrible things and those horrible things were his fellow monks. Brother Tarren the off-key singer lay broken over a pew, blood dripping slowly from his wounds. Another monk was nearby in front of a pillar, but he had been eviscerated and so badly mauled that Samuel could not tell who he was. Looking to the other side he exclaimed in shock as he saw Brother Robert. The man was impaled to the wall upside-down with a candelabra. The blood was running down the wall in big streaks. Everything was covered in blood from a dozen sources, pews were cracked or smashed, and other things were scattered all over the place. As he walked forward further into the nave and began walking towards the altar Samuel froze. Crouched in the air above the altar with feet gripping the stonework, which sat out from the apse behind the altar like a lip, was the cause of all this slaughter. It was a vampire, with chalky, leathery skin with bright splashes of blood all over it. Its talons were drenched in blood, and worse it held aloft the mutilated body of abbot Zachariah. Samuel tried to speak but instead he was sick. He retched and turned to the side, back arching as if he had been hit in the gut hard. The vampire stood watching him with a haunting laugh emanating from his thin, lifeless lips. The vampire made no move to attack him, but after a while he dropped the abbot’s corpse to the stone floor and flew down to perch on the steps before the altar.

The vampire said “It seems I missed one of you.”

Samuel did not know how he found the courage to speak but he did “Who are you?”

“The butchery; that is what you mortals call me, that is how you refer to me… to my messages. And my messages are so very important. The butchery, oh the butchery. The terrible, ghastly butchery.” The vampire replied.

Samuel shook his head in confusion and fear “What sort of answer is that? What is your name monster?”

The vampire laughed mockingly and said “My name little mortal? You step into my charnel house, inviting certain death, and ask my name. Very well, you will have it. I am called Drah‘Bel’Iar.”

Samuel fell to his knees. He knew there was no escape, no point in fighting. He could only hope it would be a quick and painless end. It was as if the vampire read his mind. Samuel said “Why did you do this? Why?”

The vampire Drah’Bel’Iar answered “I felt like it little man. But there is always meaning to the mindless slaughter and destruction… for those who can see it. Now, what is your name fragile little creature?”

“Samuel” was all he could utter. He did not have the strength to say more. All he could think of was that his entire world had been taken from him. There was nothing left. No, he was mistaken; there were things left, just not here. There was the orphanage, there was the unfinished garden. The orphanage was several miles from here in the nearest town. That was a mercy from the gods Samuel felt.

As Samuel broke down the vampire approached. Quietly he whispered “Now Samuel, you are the last one here. Do not think yourself too unlucky, for you are a grand part of the message.” With malicious intent, the vampire knocked Samuel out with a well-placed punch. Even while he was unconscious the vampire said “I will teach you what pain is before I reveal the way to free yourself from such pain.”

Days passed and he learnt what pain was. He thought he knew pain. Falling over, skinning his knees, getting into a fight at the orphanage, accidentally cutting himself with a knife, Samuel had called them pain. He now knew that they fell woefully short of that description. The vampire tortured him and Samuel thought he would die several times before Drah’Bel’Iar finally stood back from the chained man and said “You have lasted far longer than I expected young mortal. You have not suffered needlessly; you have proven my message correct. Some of you pathetic mortals are worth saving. Mercy is for the weak, but enlightenment is the tool of the greater species. The undead are superior, now you will discover why.”

Samuel was a broken man, he could barely make eye-contact with the vampire, and words seemed to blur together. Still he managed to say “What do you mean?”

Drah’Bel’Iar knelt down and responded “To be undead is to be eternal. We see things that mortals cannot even comprehend because mortals’ lives are so limited. Now it begins.” Without warning the vampire lunged forward and bit deep into Samuel’s neck. Blood poured forth but Samuel was too weak to do anything about it. When his blood was almost gone, and his life hung above the precipice between being alive and being dead, the vampire let go of his neck. Drah’Bel’Iar slashed his wrist and forced Samuel to drink. Samuel found that he wanted to drink, his mouth was so dry and despite knowing what it was, he felt empowered with every drop. Over the next few days, the vampire returned with people. A farmer, a woman from the town, and two children who had strayed from their homestead at night. Samuel feasted on them without hesitation. On the last night Drah’Bel’Iar came to him and nodded approvingly, sharing a final meal with the fledgling. He broke the chains which held him in place. Samuel said “Am I free?”

Drah’Bel’Iar looked down at the crouched form, and followed it with his gaze as it rose up to its full height. The vampire said to his new adherent “There is no true freedom, we have a purpose and we have a Master. But we will speak of such things in the nights to come, and the long pilgrimage we must take. Now you are complete. And I will name you Kor’Mor’Oka.”

Kor’Mor’Oka smiled sickly.

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