The Phantom Man P3

The man opened the door to the tavern and stepped outside into the night, panting from shock and fright as the truth dawned on him. His fear of the Cross and unease over the Church, his lack of reflection and most of all, his desire for blood, all led to one inevitable conclusion – he was a vampire. He was a souless, undead beast, there was no way around it. Yet despite the reality of his existence confirmed, he was still no closer to learning even something simple, like his name. Frustration was mounting; he needed answers and he needed them fast.

It became a question of direction. Did he go back the way he’d came, see if anyone (or anything) waited along that path that might lead to answers? It seemed like the most logical choice, but his decision was hurried by the sound (now very clear) of loud and panicked voices, discussing whether or not to pursue him. Not eager to get into a scrap with a mob, he began to walk, and that walk soon became a jog.

Another fact had made itself known to him. The discovery of his true nature had opened his eyes a little to his true potential. He was able to move quicker than the average man, and his hearing, even as he jogged, could still pick up fragments of the conversation in the tavern. He was confident he could outpace anyone that might give chase, and outfight them if it came to it. Still, in his haste he had left behind the swords; he didn’t dare  think about using his teeth, as lethal as they would probably be.

As he jogged he passed the wheat field again. It bore the scars of where he (and presumably Brother Gaspard) had trodden and battled upon it. He let out a puff of air and sighed, having hoped that returning to the scene of where he’d lost his memory might prompt its return. Even to his enhanced hearing the sound of the villagers had faded to nothing, so he slowed to a steady walk. Above him the sky was still dark, but a mote of fear was growing inside him. He had no idea when the sun would come up, but if he truly were a vampire that would prove fatal. Finding shelter would soon become imperative, so he continued at a reasonable speed along the path, keeping his eyes peeled for any other signs of civilisation.

After what felt like a long time he finally spotted what appeared to be a farm, set off to the left of the street. An empty cart, a few bales of hay and an overturned barrel were strewn outside the old stone house, that had a tired-looking, dirty thatched roof. Behind it were two large wooden-framed buildings. From the nearest one he could hear the sound of heavy breathing, most likely from cows or sheep that were sleeping, whilst the other was silent. From the farmhouse itself he could hear voices, but they were low, quiet, making it hard to know what was being said.

Trepidation pilled itself upon him. If he was a monster, would he be exposing the people inside to terrible danger? Would that happen anyway, if they gave him shelter? If the villagers gave chase and came upon the farm, how safe could he hope to be? However, he had no idea where the next opportunity to hide would come from, so his options were limited. With a deep breath he walked up to the farmhouse and rapped his knuckles upon the door. The voices stopped, then started up again.

“Who would be here so late?” Came a female voice.

“Stay here, I will send them away.” Replied a male voice.

There was the shuffling of footsteps, the sound of a latch being unlocked, and then the door was opened slightly, revealing a man with threads of grey hair in his thick beard. The face was slightly puffed with little red lines and the brown hair upon the man’s head was unkempt and knotted by strands of hay. Blue eyes narrowed at the sight of him.

“We don’t want any visitors or trouble, go away.” The farmer attempted to close the door but he stuck his foot in the way.

“Please sir, I am lost and alone, I am only looking for somewhere to stay for one night, I can pay too.”

The offer of money changed the man’s demeanour. He still regarded the man with a skeptical gaze, but there was also curiosity there too.

“Why are you lost?” He enquired.

“I… had an accident, I can’t remember who I am.”

The farmer gave him suspicious stare. “You can’t remember who you are?” A small smile spread across his face. “Some men would find that convienient. Good excuse to move on and start a new life. Is that what you’re doing?”

“No sir, in truth, I simply wish to remember who I am, but for now I seek somewhere to stay, for one night, I promise you.” To demonstrate his sincerity, he took a few of the coins from his pouch. The farmer’s eyes turned to them.

“Very well, you can stay, for one night. We have a spare bedroom. Come in, I will show you.” The door opened fully, admitting him entrance to the farmhouse.

It was a comfortable, if worn place. Several oil lamps were glowing fiercely and highlighted little torn threads on the otherwise warm looking armchairs. The fireplace was alight and the room was nice and warm. A walnut-coloured wooden table had a few little dinks and chips in it, as did the mugs and the teapot that rested on it. What drew his attention, more than anything else, was the young woman seated on one of the small chairs. Her face was similar to that of the farmer’s – namely, quite round, with blue eyes and a small button nose. Her skin was smooth and unblemished and her blonde hair was tied back in a neat bun. It stood in notable contrast to the plain beige gown she wore, that was marked in several places and with several different shades of beige and grey woven into it. She turned her head to meet his gaze and held it with a resolve that defied her apparent youth. The exchange did not go unnoticed by the farmer.

“Maelle, it is late and we have much work to do tomorrow, go to bed.” The farmer said. Without a word Maelle stood, nodded to the farmer (who the man assumed was her father) and left the room.

“You can stay through there, the spare room is yours for the night. I hope you sleep well.”

The man inclined his head. “Thank you sir, for your kindness.”

The farmer nodded in return, then he too departed, through a wooden door to the left. The man was left alone, to contemplate who he was, and what would happen when the sun rose.

Part 4

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