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A Night In Farmer's Reach
Somewhere on the changing borders of England and Scotland sat the small village of Farmer's Reach. The locals prospered from the surrounding farms and the small market at the center of the cross roads that marked Farmer's Reach. The village had a small chapel of the finest stone just north of the market, a location notable to any cartographer. To foreigners, the village was normal, but as many did at the time, Farmer's Reach had its own skeleton, its shadow.
On one fine evening, a travelling bard happened to rest for the day in Farmer's Reach. He was performing a famous lore in the town's largest inn around half-past six. Someone glanced out the glass-pained window, got up and hurried outside hurriedly. Soon this turned into mass panic, and the bard was left playing for a confused audience of the other four men staying in the Inn. The Innkeeper thanked the bard and gave him several pieces of gold. He brought him to his room at the end of the hall, and offered him a drank. The bard accepted it graciously. The bard blacked out, and was quickly lost in dreams.
This particular bard would have been like every other traveler to pass if it wasn't for the Innkeeper's miscalculation of the potion. The Innkeeper put a drop too little into the beer, and the bard woke up in the dead of the night. His head buzzed, and he looked around the room. He decided to get up and walk around a bit.
The bard continued down the hall and into the deserted, dark, candlelit performing room. That was when he first heard the brutal screaming. His ears perked up suddenly, and for the first time he noticed the wooden boards hammered over the windows. He walked closer and his heart stopped. They weren't just nailed once or twice. There were more nails than he could count nailed into each board, and at first he had mistaken the door for just a bump in the wall. He heard another scream, this one clearer, sounding of excruciating pain, like a brutal murder. He looked closer to notice the crosses boarded onto the window, and noticed the little droplets of water hanging from the bottom of the wood. Holy water. Another scream. Vampires. The thought struck him like a knife in the chest.
The bard headed to one corner of the room, and found the Innkeeper's supplies. A hammer, amongst spare plywood and rusty nails. He picked up the hammer and headed back to the window. Using the backend, he played the top layer off the window. A thin beam of moonlight show through the slightest crack. He stuck his eyes into the whole and looked out into the barren street. Every house was boarded, and livestock could be seen.
The bard sat down in a corner to think. After a while he came to one conclusion. Nobody in this town was willing to stand up to the abomination, it would be up to him. He had no choice to but slay the creature himself. He stood back up, and plied the rest of the wood off the window. Smashing the glass and bringing a stake and cross, the Bard headed into the night.
As soon as he stepped foot in the lush foliage, another cry rang out. The bard jumped, shook it off and continued onwards. The street was pitch black, the only light being the moon's reflection illuminating off the roughly paved street. The cottages stood as black giants, waiting to gobble him up. His heart stopped when he heard the hiss to his left.
He spun around, to find something moving in the shadow of a farmhouse. Two green eyes stared at him. A few seconds later the figure emerged to prove itself a black cat, waving its tail in the air. It looked him in the eye before retreating back into the darkness upon the sound of another scream.
The bard continued in the direction of the scream, and he now neared the edges of the village. Off in the distance he saw seven hills, nearly the same in height, marking the line between the English and the Scotts. He wondered how many people died holding that line, how many times this small border village had changed its nationality. He wondered If the people we're even sure who their ruler was.
His wondering was interrupted by another blood-stopping scream. This time, he could see the home it was in. At the very end of the village's northern road, where the cottages gave way to farms, where the creature hid. He gripped the stake tight and slipped into the shadows. The next scream revealed what section of the house: the cellar. The bard crept down the stone stairs, and felt the wood door. His heart raced. This was it. What he did in the following minute would determine his fate, and the fate of the town. He could live on a hero, or join the night crew. He took a deep breath and rammed his body into the door.
The wooden door smashed down, and he charged in. Lying in a short bed lay a young, pale man. His face was wide and bulged on its right. There was no pigment whatsoever on his body, and his face looked frozen. The thing looked him in the eye, tilted its head, and mercilessly screamed again. He walked slowly towards the thing. He felt the cold stone on his bare feet, noticed the pain from the shattered glass shards, the scrapes from the road. As he raised his arm it, gripping the stake, a cold hand grabbed his shoulder. He turned around, started, to find a tall man wearing peasants rags.
"That's my son," the man spoke.
The bard looked the man twice his age in the eye, confused.
"There is no vampire. When my son was born, and I discovered he was different, I felt I had no choice but to fake his death. He would never be accepted among our society, and so I made up a story, people wept, and then went on with their lives. When I realized I could not keep him quiet, an idea struck me. I sedated him in the day, and formed the rumor of a vampire.
"People feared the screams at night and boarded up their homes. I too boarded my home, and evaded being recognized as the founder of the rumor. The priests bless lots nightly. The innkeepers sedate their guests. Anything to avoid the vampire."
The bard looked back to the bed. What had first appeared to him as a vampire now appeared in its true form. The skin was that of a man never exposed to the sun. Spending his most influential years lying in bed, his body melted into the form of the mattress below low it. He dropped his stake and walked closer to the bed.
"His mother ran off. She couldn't handle the pain. Some say she cooks as far south as London. Some say she is dead."
The thing reached out its hand, and the Bard leaned closer. The things face suddenly changed, its eyes mesmerized, and its boney hand reached out and grabbed his chest.
The bard fell foreword, and remained frozen in the air, held up by an arm which had no muscle. The farmer's son started rocking back and forth, and started mumbling. Suddenly it started shouting phrases. Very few words could be understood by the farmer and bard, and all they heard was something about the stars. Something about something arising from the grave. The farmer just stared as the bard too began to collapse. In the bards mind flashed images of empty streets. In his mind he saw the stars, and they were moving. He saw corpses, somehow animated, wandering around in a world unlike what he knew. Sometime in the future. He saw strange symbols. He saw a darkly robed man, undead, smiling.
When the travelling man woke up, he was in the farmer's barn, laid out upon straw. He stood up, and walked away. He never told a soul about the farmer or his son, and Farmer's Reach went on to believe in a vampire. The farmer never told the town the truth to the ends of his days.