Lost in the Mists
Sixteen of the Sixth Moon, 351 Part II
The guards all but broke down my door to tell me that my dear brother had been struck down by an assassin. I bellowed in rage and had them lead me to the scene. And when I saw my brother’s corpse, I collapsed to my knees and cursed all the gods as I wept drily. I never fancied myself a performer, but several of the ladies of the castle were moved to tears by the display. Perhaps that was another element of the bargain? I made such a scene that Lady Ilona had to lead me away with the help of guards.
I ordered that the Castle be sealed and an investigation begun at once. Curiously, no one could find Alek and I did not lie when I said I knew not of his location. The task fell to Leo Dilisnya as he took Alek’s place as my steward. I demanded that the killer be brought to justice and swore to all the guests that my brother would not be forgotten. Fate seems to have a cruel sense of justice.
The day wore on with me hiding from the harsh light of the sun. I was consoled by nobles and distant family, all the while waiting for a time to escape to find Tatyana. By sunset, my guests had retired to their chambers and my guards continued their search. I left the throne room to go to my beloved.
I found her in the chapel, crying over Sergei’s body. The large stained-glass door was opened to the terrace and overlooked the Ivlis River. In a distant part of Castle, the wedding band began playing a funeral dirge. She sobbed, her tears rolling down her face. Even in despair she was beautiful. And I knew at that moment I had done the right thing.
If I had to drink a river of blood to have her I would do it.
I easily lifted her to her feet and she welcomed my embrace. To feel the warmth and softness of her body was overwhelming. I expected to hear the thundering of my heart, but I could only feel the beating of hers. She wailed to the sky and cursed the gods. I could care less about my dead brother, but it pained me to know I hurt her so much.
“Why did this happen?” she asked. I sneered at the thought of Sergei, as he was to blame for all of this. I assured her that the Fates were cruel and took our dear Sergei from us.
“But I will take care of you, Tatyana. I will love you. And in time, you will learn to love me,” I said.
She pulled back from our embrace with a puzzled look on her face. But when her eyes met mine, the confusion left her immediately. No doubt she could see the love in my eyes. Her hand reached up to touch my face, and I knew that this was reward for the terrible price I had paid.
“Strahd,” she whispered. With her eyes blazing she leaned in to kiss me. The moment her lips touched mine, I felt joy greater than any in my life. I returned the kiss and our embrace became vastly more passionate. A moment later we were clawing at each other and inching lower to the ground. Thoughts flooded my mind. Thoughts about the ecstasy to come. Tatyana would be mine. In a few moments I would have all I wanted, sealing our fates forever. She would be mine every night, forever.
She whispered my name again and I looked down at her. Her eyes were closed and her hair was softly spread over the cold stone. I could see the gooseflesh on her arms and see the pulse at her throat. With all the beauty before me, I was troubled that I kept looking at the soft flesh of her neck. Her hips rocked beneath me and she whispered my name again. And then I noticed a wisp of mist on the floor. I looked up and saw that a thick fog and billowed up the cliff and spilled out onto the overlook. And through the mist a heard another voice:
“Lord Strahd! Murderers! They’re killing everyone!” the voice said. I growled at the sound and stood to face the approaching voice. Tatyana gasped and shook her head confused.
“What happened? Were we…” she started. I turned and faced her. She looked into my face with a pained and confused look, and then she cried out in fear. I was puzzled by her reaction, but then I became aware of a change. It only took a moment for me to realize that my eyeteeth had extended into sharp fangs.
“Vampyr!” she interrupted, and apparently this was the bargain I agreed to. No matter of course, it was the only way. She began crawling backwards, trying to escape me. She was terrified of me, but it was necessary. I would make her forget.
As I reached for her she screamed and leapt to her feet. Sobbing, she turned and ran from me. She was like a deer, moving so fast through the wisps of mist on the ground. I was already moving by the time I realized the danger. Faster than I’ve ever moved before, I raced for her. And I almost had her, my fingers moved through the ghostly strands of her hair. But then she was out of reach. The overlook’s railing was obscured by the mist and Tatyana hit the stone hard at her waist. She immediately tumbled over the railing and vanished into the thick fog below.
I heard her scream the whole way down, until the roar of the river drowned out the sound. It sounded like she screamed my name. Or maybe Sergei’s. Or both. I didn’t know, because I was howling at the edge almost leaping to my oblivion. And somewhere in the mist, there were peals of hideous laughter.
I cursed the gods. I cursed Death. I had been cheated. They told me I would live forever and I would have her. But as the laughter thundered in my mind I realized the cruel reality. They never said how long I’d have her. All they said was that I would have her and I would live forever.
Thousands of nights spread out before me. Thousands of nights without her. Thousands of nights alone. Thousands of nights bathed in blood.
The mists swirled around me and I could not see the group of men that entered the chapel.