Monday, 24 December 2012

A late intro



Let's leave Rhiannon for a moment for I have been rude. It does not matter if my name and "profession" are no longer a mystery to you. There must be some sort of formal introduction so, as a good friend of mine would have said, please allow me to introduce myself.

As you have already seen somewhere in your screen, my name is Tristen Blackwell. Well, that is the name I have chosen to disclose to you. I have been many people. I have lived dozens of lives with their corresponding deaths. I have had many different names and nationalities without even reincarnating.

To date, I speak 40 languages fluently and understand bits and bobs of many more. I suspect that, were I less prone to procrastination I would be able to speak at least a hundred. It is not that I am a natural-born polyglot, I just think that almost anyone who lived to be 400 or more would inevitably become multilingual. In my human life I was an ignorant peasant who could barely have a proper conversation in her mother tongue, let alone a foreign language. Still, I was eager to know what life was like far beyond the little villages of my childhood. The foreigners that came our way inspired in me an unquenchable curiosity. Their strange accents and clothing; their knowledge of languages I could not understand.

By imitation, from a very early age I made up my own words. I had my own glossolalia, an imperfect language that was built on the go. Some would have thought it was gibberish or gobbledygook but in my head I was speaking a secret tongue from times of old. I muttered to myself sounds that could only be deciphered by me, I had my own way of calling the elements, the animals in the small farms; the sun, moon and stars. My life, often scarred by poverty and boredom, became so much brighter when I looked into my own thoughts and magical words, which I believed allowed me to establish communication with good, protective spirits. Silly me, a female Tantalus...

Have you ever heard of Tantalus? If you have you may know that he was an ancient king who boiled his own son and served him to the gods at a banquet. Zeus and company were less than pleased at the grim offering. They repaired Tantalus' evil deed by bringing the boy back to life but the king was sent to Tartarus or, in less fancy terms, Hell as punishment. There he would spend Eternity among the loveliest fruit trees and a beautiful stream of crystal clear water. There was a catch, of course. Tantalus would never be able to reach the succulent red apples nor drink the fresh water. They would be there to be seen but not tasted. He had been sentenced to insatisfaction amid abundance and beautiful things that eluded him even though they seemed to be within his grasp.

As you may imagine, I did not get to hear about Tantalus in my lifetime. It was not until a few years after I became a vampire that I learned about him and then it all made sense: my life, my nature. I will explain why.

I suffered from chronic frustration, secretly hoping to leave home and embark on endless adventures abroad. I sometimes fancied myself pretty, believing other people's compliments, which may have been false. I also believed I had brains and imagination so I felt trapped in the uneventful, repressive village atmosphere I had been placed in by the hand of some cruel god who had bestowed upon me gifts I could not fully use in such a setting. Those delusions of mine were my downfall.

Unfulfilled ambition made me vulnerable, an easy prey to "celebrities". Yes, I might as well tell you now. I am closely linked to one of the biggest vampire celebrities of all time: Elizabeth Bathory, better known as The Blood Countess. I apologise if I interrupt my tale for a while just to ask you: Have you ever been let down by your idol once you had met him or her in person? I have. It is not that Elizabeth was precisely my idol, as I knew little of her but, having been born and bred a few miles from Čachtice, the village where her castle is still located, I was more than aware of her high rank and had heard that she was indescribably beautiful. That myth prevails to this day, even if the paintings have easily debunked it. People want to believe she was a gorgeous fallen angel and no visual proof will dissuade them of the contrary. 

Given my circumstances and my lack of real options to leave the parental home, it was easy for Ficszko and Dorka, Elizabeth's servants, to captivate gullible girls like me. It was the year 1610, I was 19 then, already old to get married. My poor parents were on the verge of despair and I was too stubborn to accept any potential suitors. At the time I did not understand what made it so difficult for me to be drawn to their charms as some of these men were certainly handsome. No one could work out my behaviour either. I used to think I was conceited and vain but the situation was more complex. I did not suspect that the fact that my own reflection appeared to be more alluring to me than the face of any man had little to do with vanity. The laughter, the tender touch of girls my age was always perfectly friendly but, as I grew older, it became pleasant in a way I could not quite describe. A gentle kiss on the cheek, a pretty smile, a warm hug, these were things I enjoyed but then again, I thought any other girl would. My fantasies were pure, not out of real innocence but ignorance. I simply did not have the notion of any type of physical intimacy that went past a few hugs and kisses.

My adorable parents, it is sad and almost unbelievable, but I cannot remember their names or their faces for some reason yet whenever I think of Elizabeth I can see her face as clearly as on the very first day I met her. My human life is more of a blur as time goes by but the events that led to my death are still lingering in my memory. Mum and Dad were easily seduced by the Countess' people. I could tell they were immensely proud of me. After all, I had been chosen with a few of the prettiest girls in the region.

Ficzko lavished us with promises Elizabeth did not mean to keep. He told us I would get an education and would become the Countess' lady. Well, that last promise was certainly fulfilled but not in the way Mum and Dad had envisioned...

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