My name is Rachelle Maddaford. It is odd how many changes take place over time. Yet, some things never seem to change at all. That is why this is the perfect month to tell you my story. A month in all the year, over all this time, beliefs have never changed only grown more intense, more morbid, and the knowledge that anything can and will happen in the month that holds All Hallows Eve is all too evident.
My prevalent downfall has always been tall, mysterious, dark, intriguing men emerging from the mist….
I realize this sounds so cliché. What woman does not fantasize about a man such as this coming to sweep her off her feet? The proverbial prince, the knight in shining armor, that man that takes your breath away with a single awestruck look.
However, it is this glitch in my genetic makeup, this unyielding desire that changed my whole existence forever.
Maybe I should start from the beginning. Not so far back as my Celtic origins. Or how my mother and grandmother had barely escaped from Salem with their lives with me tucked neatly under my mother’s heart. But from the moment I saw him walk out of the vapor and into my world.
The year was 1713. The October winds howled through the trees whipping about my little clearing. Multicolored leaves swirled around me, catching on my clothes and hair. I must have been a sight that night standing there concentrating on the full moon overhead until the rustling in the woods captured my attention.
He was breathtaking. His long black locks blowing behind his shoulders. Deep onyx eyes accented with burgundy penetrated my soul in a solitary glance. His facial features were that of royalty, demanding authority and respect. From the sharp straight point of his nose to the deep set of his dark eyes and high cheekbones.
As of that moment, my heart and soul were no longer my own….
I watched him retrieve his prey with the ease of a skilled hunter. One jerk of his hand and the loud popping noise of bones drowned out the mournful song of the fall winds. Admiration filled his eyes, as he held mine, sinking his teeth into his dinner.
“Who are you?” Looking away from this magnificent sight was no longer an option.
He raised his head from his meal. Steam rose on the cool night air, chrism blood spilled down his chin, clinging to his finely manicured beard and mustache. Fangs dripping with his supper, shined back at me against the moonlight.
“Your nightmares come to life.” His voice was mesmerizing as was the man, a profound baritone calling out to the emptiness that resided within me.
Those eyes, that mystifying voice, maybe the night as well. You know how they say strange things happen on the full moon preceding All Hallows Eve. Well, I am a living testament to that fact.
I closed the scant distance between us. I barely noticed the man, this so-called nightmare fed from, was the owner of the local general store, who beat his wife and children senseless each night. Maybe that was my first mistake, justifying his kill in my own mind. What I did notice was the surprise that flickered in his eyes, as I approached.
“You like to test fate, don’t you?” My actions seemed to exhilarate him. Excitement replaced the surprise, as he watched my every move. I was enthralled. His tongue glided down the neck of his feast.
My eyes drifted closed. I could almost feel the heated breath and warm moist tongue against my neck. “Who are you?”
“I would think that would be obvious.”
I heard the shopkeeper’s body fall to the ground just before this vampire’s strong hands grasp my shoulders. His essence enveloped me. Thick musk and freshly dug earth, mingled with the pungent odor of blood. “I did not ask what you are, but who. What is your name?”
“Nicholas Banica. And you would be?”
His deep baritone voice vibrated my existence from the inside out. My mouth watered as the whispered repeat of his name slipped past my lips, before I answered his request. “I am Rachelle Maddaford.”
His lips curl into a slight smile against the bare flesh of my neck. “Do your mother and grandmother know you are tramping about the woods at night?”
“Does it matter?”
Deep enriching laughter filled the tiny clearing, engulfing me, bringing laughter to my own lips. “I like you, Rachelle Maddaford.” His release of me left a strange emptiness inside, until he came to stand just inches in front of me.
A finer specimen of man did not exist in this world. He stood a good foot over my meager five feet two inches. His iridescent skin held a blue cast, as the full moon basked down on him. Broad muscular shoulders, hands, I knew fully capable of breaking a grown man in two, but finding myself wondering, how they would please a woman in the heat of passion.
His head cocked to one side, “Such thoughts coming from an innocent.”
I could no longer look him in the eye. I found a leaf twirling about the ground, focusing my attention on the bright yellow orange. My throat tightened intensely, the pressure was almost suffocating. My heart pounded rapidly. The heat rose up my neck and lit my face on fire.
“Did I say something wrong?” His voice sounded almost amused.
Nervously I shook my head, but it was too late. He had closed the distance between us. His fingers wrapped snuggly against my chin, sending a mixture of emotion, coursing through me all at once.
“Are you afraid?”
I still had no way of managing words, past the tight passage of my throat, so I just shook my head the best I could. He leaned into my ear, heat coursed through my body at an uncomfortable pace. I gasped for any sort of breath that would enter my lungs. I steadied the tremble of my hands against the hard plains of his chest, adding yet more discomfort to my current situation.
“You should be.” He whispered. His heated breath, slipped past my ear, stirring a place within my body that never before knew life.
I met his eyes, challengingly, the best I could manage with his closeness. “Why? Because you are a vampire, or is that too presumptuous of me?”
“Maybe it is because I am also a man.” His fangs grazed my neck. His tongue heated a trail to my shoulder.
I melted like butter on a hot iron skillet. Fear being the farthest thing from my mind. Thinking back, maybe if I had felt some sort of fear, I would not be here today telling you my story. Maybe, had I heeded the warnings of my mother and grandmother? Even Nicholas’s implications, I should fear what I had no idea of knowing at the time. Maybe, just maybe, things would have turned out differently.
Your thoughts ask me, if looking back now would, I have changed anything. Would I have feared a vampire who had taken up residence in our quiet little town?
No, for I have no regrets, for the stand I took, or the man who stole my heart. When my story is finished, you too will understand why I had to do what I did. Maybe, just maybe you will also understand a little more about yourself.
I did not make love to him that night, as you are thinking I did. Instead, we spent that night and many more after that, in my clearing. He was the perfect gentleman. He would listen to my endless chatter about my life. I would listen to his exciting adventures that had taken him to the farthest ends of the earth.
He had seen places I had never heard of before. Exotic places where animals of all imagination existed, some to the point of his description, I was sure he was stretching the truth. Yet, there was something about Nicholas that kept me returning, even with my mother and grandmother’s constant scolding.
“What is wrong with you child, he is not a man, he is a monster.” My grandmother would say each morning.
“That is what you see.” I would argue back.
“That is what the world sees.” My mother would chime in.
“And they see us any differently? That is why you keep us hidden away in shame.”
My grandmother’s wrinkled face turned as red as a beet, “We do not hide away in shame. People just do not understand our way of life.”
“Would that not mean that maybe, just maybe we do not understand his way of life either?”
“He feeds off the blood of mortals!”
“And we feed off their ignorance and their weaknesses, the very things that make them mortal to begin with. Tell me, both of you, how are we so different?”
“These are aspects of mortal nature, not their very life’s breath.” Grandmother wagged one crooked finger, before popping the tip of my nose.
“So you believe that the shopkeeper who tortured his family every night, or the barkeep that used young boys for his own evil demented ideals, were upstanding citizens and did not deserve the fate they received?”
“No one said they did not deserve their fate, but their fate should not rely on the judgment of one, just as demented, vampire.”
“Just as demented! Might I remind you, to these people, we too, are as demented as you believe Nicholas to be. How long has it been since any of us has been allowed to step foot inside the town limits?”
“I might remind you, dear granddaughter, that if you had not been out practicing spell work where you could be seen, that would not have happened.”
“I never asked to be who I am.”
Mother’s comforting hand rested on my shoulder. “No, you did not ask, but it has always been your destiny. A legacy unfolded, generation after generation, for all of time.”
“Rachelle, you must understand these feelings of yours are very foreign to your mother and me. For generations the women of our family have avoided giving our whole hearts to any one man, not to mention any half-man, half-monster, creature that walks amongst us. To watch one of our own, especially one we love with all our being, fall prey to a vampire…”
“I am not his prey, grandmother.”
“Then fall in love with, if you so wish to use those terms, is hard for us.”
“I am not in love with anyone. I am enchanted with him. He fascinates me.”
“I told you, she would turn evil, if we did not rein her in. But, no, you said, you were her mother, you knew her best. Now look at what you have created, a woman fascinated with the workings of a vampire, a vile creature to say the least.”
“Rachelle is a grown woman now, mother. She has just as much right to her thoughts and feelings as any other witch. We have to trust in her, now more than ever.”
“I would never bring harm down upon either of you. I just can’t understand why Nicholas seems to be such a threat to either of you. Everyone knows vampires and witches do not pose a threat to the other.”
“No, but a stand with a vampire who wreaks havoc upon a village, stands to get a witch burned at the stake.”
“Nicholas would never…”
“It is not Nicholas I am afraid. Townspeople, no matter how evil they are, happen to be disappearing, one at a time and almost nightly these days. They have no clue, they have a vampire in their midst, but they do know, they have three witches living on the outskirts of their quiet little town. Who do you think they will blame?”
“So you see, my daughter, it is for our very lives, we do not wish to encourage your Nicholas to remain here. Not because we harbor anything against him.”
I understood the point my mother and grandmother were making. It had been the two of them, who had watched innocent men, women, and children die at the hands of ignorance, not I. Their stories of the burning times, before my birth, were all I ever knew. Not that I thought my mother or grandmother would lie to me, because I knew they were incapable of such an act against me. Yet, something inside me, even then, did not want to admit humanity, could be so cruel, so harsh on their kind.
The things I have seen, learned, experienced, since those days, have proven to me over again, that mortals are their own worst enemy. They hide behind their own delusions. Cast judgment upon that which they don’t understand, and execute before they have a chance to know the difference.
Still even had I known the harshness of my choices, the repercussions of my actions, it would not have changed how I felt. Nicholas Banica had walked right out of that mist and into my soul, consuming every ounce of my being.
He was much more than a vampire, much more than another handsome face. He was intelligent, sharp-witted, and for the first time in my whole twenty years of existence, a man had wrapped himself around my soul and captured my heart.
As I mentioned before, this was something uncommon for my heritage. We came from a long line of Celtic women. Women, who prided themselves on individuality, separate from men. Women, who lived life freely, did as they pleased, for the sake of being women.
A child born to our clan was never in wedlock, for our women believed not in marriage nor long term commitments to any one man. Men had their place, but not as a constant companion. I learned early on, this rule, this secret society’s policies. It was not until Nicholas, did I ever toy with the idea of things ever being different for me, than that of my mother, grandmother, or those before them.
Have you ever felt that deeply for a man? So much, that you begin to rethink your beliefs, your laws, even what the difference between right and wrong really is.
This is where I stood, on that October morning in 1713. I felt torn between everything, up until that moment, I was, had been, or ever would be. I, now, suddenly ached to find change. Something so new, that even my own had never experienced it.
You see, maybe the witches of Salem were a horrible fixation of wrongful truths and misguided justice. But, we were real, very real, even then. Unfortunately, too many innocents, were falsely accused, put to death, and all for what, the misunderstandings of mortal man?
No one knows, what walks amongst them each and every day. You mortals are an arrogant lot, to say the very least. You balk at anything you believe to be impossible. You think witches and vampires are movie screen fantasies. Werewolves and mummies, brought about by a writer’s over active imagination. Gnomes, fairies, elves, and leprechauns watch over your children and play with your babies, but you are too blind to see them.
You don’t even realize, these things you believe to be made up nonsense, are the very things that use your city streets, country roads, and quiet hidden hideaways, as their hunting grounds. They strive to keep your streets clean of something even more brutal, more morbid than even your worst nightmares, your wretched, your criminals, your very riff raff.
Vanity keeps mortal man in check. For only vanity would allow one to believe, he is better than all other creatures on earth, and fear everything, he does not understand. Pass down judgment on innocents and destroy your very kind for your lack of open mindedness.
A witch knows never doubt the impossible. She also understands, that if she exists, so can anything else beyond the imagination. She works with the cycles of the Earth. She respects life, and clings to immortality.
She connects to the watchtowers of the North, East, South, and West. Clings to their guidance, their wisdom, and appreciates their individual qualities. She respects the Lord, and treasures the Lady. For without them there would be no life of any kind.
She seeks out the knowledge of all that is living, and blesses all that are weak. She attunes herself with all that she is, all that she can be.
So if after all of what I have told you thus far, you still wish to hear more. Settle back against your chair. Take a sip or two of your heated brew. My tale is centuries old. My story has a vast abundance throughout. Listen to the meaning between the lines and grasp the knowledge that I am about to bestow upon you.
By my story’s end, it will be up to you to decide, if the tale I weave for you now, is fact or fiction, myth or reality. If you are open-minded enough to believe, witches and vampires walk amongst you, or will you still choose to believe they are nothing more than something from a fairy tale? Or will you choose to believe, that the twinkle you see out of the corner of your eye, just at dusk could possibly be a fairy friend, come to bid you goodnight.
That the pot of gold, might just sit at the end of the rainbow, with a leprechaun waiting to grant you three wishes, if you only would choose to leave his gold alone. The choice will be yours and yours alone.
For this, my story, the story of Rachelle Maddaford, is one of everything that goes bump in the night. It will delve you into a world of things beyond your wildest dreams, and make you question your entire existence, all that you ever held near and dear to your heart and soul. Maybe even make you realize, that those far-reaching dreams you have kept secret all your life, might just be able to come true.
As I had to do, one misty October night, so long ago…