The night was dark – pitch black – except for the stars in the sky. It was a new moon, which made the stars seem even brighter. I perched atop the steeple of a desolate church in an abandoned town of a forgotten corner of the world. Couldn’t remember exactly where I was or what day it was. All I did know was that it was time to kill again. It was war; they were the enemy. That is the lie I kept feeding myself for all these years, like a glutton. With eyes closed, memories of better days filled my head, when I was young, when I was a man. My wife, she was beautiful. Sure most men will say that, but mine really was. Her eyes were like crystal blue gems that sparkled in the twilight. Her hair was soft and silky, and her skin was as smooth as a babes. But that was ages ago. She had passed from this world, and my final memories of her were not as fond as my first.
I had just returned from a Holy crusade, fighting for the same Church that I fought against now. They told us our sins would be forgiven, that God would not punish us for killing our enemies, who were evil spawns of the devil. Funny thing is that you could use those very words to describe me now. When I came home the night that I returned, she threw her arms around me. It had been almost 2 years since we had last seen each other. And when I left we were practically newlyweds. Her touch was not as tender, her grab quite forceful. I took a hold of her with passion, and we rolled on the bed. I was on my back removing my shirt and she seductively moved her hand across my chest. But then her eyes changed from sparkling blue to pale yellow. Her teeth grew jagged; her canines protruded outward like the fangs of a cobra. Fear and confusion consumed me. I had just come back from serving the Lord, while my wife had become a demon. She lunged at my throat, but I grabbed her by the hair and threw her off of me. The succubus that had been my wife moved toward me again, so fast that I could not stop her. She slashed my cheek and then sprayed me in the face with venom so acidic it burned through my flesh. On my knees, I prayed for salvation, and for my wife to be returned to her sweet innocent self. There was no way I could fight her, she was still the woman that I loved. That was when he arrived. His voice boomed, calling the demoness before me to stand down, and he thrust a silver spear through her heart. All at once she caught on fire and was consumed into nothingness. My eyes burned, my face was bleeding, but still I tried to look at the man who had just saved my life. All I could see was a black blob in front of me. Then I fainted.
The next morning I woke up in a strange bed. My savior stood over me with some porridge for breakfast. He told me I needed to regain my strength. The porridge was thick and red, and smelled like iron. At the time I was not sure what it was exactly. The mysterious man who had come to my aid was tall, with a strong jaw and broad shoulders. He was older, looked maybe 50 or so, though I would discover he was much older than that. His hair was silver grey, and he wore a cloth around his nose and mouth. His eyes were piercing, and looked red in the dimly lit room. He told me that we were in the cellar of a monastery in France. That made no sense since last night I had been at my home in the hills of Great Britain. My head was throbbing, and I felt weak and strong at the same time, like I was teetering between life and death. He assured me that this pain would pass quickly and that soon he would tell me more. After that I fell asleep for what felt like days. I had no dreams, which was odd for me for I usually had many. But since then I have never dreamed again. Maybe because there is no hope in dreaming when your reality is Hell.
Days passed and then weeks, and I discovered much over this period of time. It was very difficult to believe at first but the evidence was too convincing to not believe. In order for me to survive the toxic venom that had been doused onto my face by a creature that was once the most beautiful maiden to ever walk God’s green Earth, this man, my savior and now master, had to sire me. He was a vampire, a demon. And now so was I. But he was much more than just a vampire. He was the High Guardian of the Faith, and I was now one of his knights. I had heard of this order before – the Guardians of the Faith – but had never known anyone who had been a part of it. They were an elite group of warriors, who were saved for those special occasions where the might of mere men was just not enough. They would come on an enemy in the dark of the night, slaying them with a precision like no other. Now I understood it better. Though never would I have dreamed that the very Church that severed God would make a pact with the Devil, or at least part of his brood. And now I was part of this organization, fighting for the same Church that I fought for in the crusades. More holy wars, more death – it was hard to see God’s hand in any of this.
I never understood why my master let me live, why he saved me that night. He told me that he had known of an enemy plot to kill me. They had captured my wife while I was away at war, and through a ritual they had transformed her into the monster that I met the night I returned. The Church could not afford to lose such a soldier as myself. They had plans for me, big plans, as I was one of their best. Now those plans had evolved, and being undead as I was, I could be an even stronger asset for them. But first I had a lot to learn from my master about my new powers and how to use them for good, or so they told me. Honestly, I would much rather have been dead. An endless lifetime alone without my love was no life I wanted, especially not as a creature of the darkness. There was more to this perplexing tale, some of which I had to learn much later. Thoughts of suicide played in my mind constantly. I even fought my battles recklessly at first, hoping that I would be killed, but there was something inside of me that kept me from dying – a force of nature. I would say it was my spirit or God, but I was certain both had abandoned me by then. My scarred face was my constant reminder of what I now was, and what I had lost. I was forever changed. I even had a new name – Penance – the name given to me by my master because I would cleanse the world of its sin through the destruction of all that was evil.
We only fought at night, as we could not go out during the day. Being creatures of the dark, the light of the sun could prove to be fatal to us. The war we waged was mostly against other demonic beings – vampires, shape-shifters, and even creatures from the depths of Hell. Their blood and the blood of the men who fought by their side was our food, the only way for us to survive. Our weapons of choice were all forged in silver – swords, knives, and spears for the most part, though some of us had much more creative weapons. We also made sure to have all of our weapons blessed by the priests, and because of this we could not hold them without thick gloves to protect ourselves.
But those days have come to an end. The crusades are long gone, centuries ago. And now the tides have turned for I am an enemy of the Church, hunted by them every day, or rather night, of my life. I find caves and hollows to sleep during the hours where the suns rays blanket the earth. Though, I wish I could bask in those rays, and feel their warmth. My body is cold. And I still ask my self why I live on. Why I don’t just walk out into the light of day and let my body fade to nothingness, releasing me from this prison. That thing inside me won’t let me die. That force won’t let me go. So I carry on, wondering when it will all end – this war between light and darkness – confused by who is really good, and who is evil. And how did I end up fighting against that which I fought for so many years? Much happens when you learn the truth. And I learned a lot.
It was a new moon, much like tonight, except on that night there were no stars in the sky. Clouds rolled over us, as the fire from our torches were our only light. I lead our group to a castle in the south end of Turkey. The lord of that castle was like us, a vampire, but his allegiance was to the wrong side of the war. His minions flew down to us, attacking from above and clawing at our heads. We put up our shields and struck with our weapons. But they were fast. Fortunately, for us so were we. By this time I had learned much of my powers, as did the men who fought beside me. We were taught by our master, and he was the best, an ancient vampire who had been from the first. Not many could say that. The creature inside that castle was another, though. With our wings spread and our claws revealed, we took to the sky and battled our enemies on their turf. Quickly we began to make progress, and cut our way through the horde of beasts before us. We lost some of our own as well, but eventually, we defeated all of the minions of the dark lord we sought to kill. We sieged the castle and moved inside. He was waiting for us; he was waiting for me. In no time that beast slew all of the soldiers who were with me. But for some reason he kept me alive. He just looked at me. I was unable to move. That is when he spoke.
His lips did not move; they didn’t have to. His voice whispered though my head. Telepathy was a power only the ancients knew how to command, along with telekinesis which is what held me stiff, unable to move as he unraveled things I did not want to know or believe. But I found myself unable to resist doing both. There was a truth in what he said to me, a type of truth I had not known in a long, probably, because I was used to lies. But, I had known this type of truth once before. I found it in my love. That is why I was so accepting of all that I heard. It felt as if it were coming straight from her lips. Those soft, warm lips that I missed so much. I had been a fool this whole time. There was no ritual that turned my wife into a demon. No, it was my very master who did it. He had wanted me to join his team for some time, seeing potential in me that he saw in no other. He knew that if he corrupted my wife he could win me over, especially if he could appear to me my savior. Certain authorities in the Church, men who hungered for power, going to any means to receive it, even to the Devil himself, sanctioned the order that I had joined. Though, it was not sanctioned by the Faith. My master was the true dark lord, and the side I had fought on was the true enemy. The demon before me was no angel either, though, but he was accepting of his inner beast. He knew what he was, and he was not trying to live in the shadow of men. He was a murderer, a monster, and he could destroy the entire world with the wave of his hand. But he had no desire to do so. He did not want any earthly power. He just wanted to exist. Killing only what he needed for food. Though at this stage, he did not even have to do the killing, but rather had his minions bring him sweet meals from time to time. The monster allowed me to leave with the truth, wanting to see what I did with it, and what I would and could become. He also felt I had potential. He had never known a young blood to be as powerful as I was, or so he said. My power was rooted in the ancients he had told me.
That night I escaped with my life, or whatever facsimile of a life it was and went into hiding. My master knew I had the truth now, and his soldiers hunted me day and night. For centuries I have fled from being destroyed, gaining more knowledge of my powers and myself, hoping that one day I will have enough power to defeat that evil demon that spawned me to this undead existence and repay him for taking away the only love I ever knew. But he is an ancient like that dark lord I met that night, and my power is still nothing next to his. By I vow that the day will come when I end his reign and serve him a penance that is long overdue. But before that day more blood must be shed. I need to feed in order to survive. Some of his soldiers will be my victims. They will pay for his sins for now, and they will also pay for mine.