It was the fifteenth day of October in the year 1845. Just awaking from my long dream, me and my loyal guardian of my slumber, Eolynn, were on a trip around the land of Europe.
The world was no longer the way I remembered it to be. The waves of industrial revolution had washed anew the old world. The iron roads reached to the farthest as they had ever been. Steel dragons breathed out white vapours, they galloped across mountains and valleys, bringing in and out people, goods, ideas…Reading the books was one thing, but seeing all these with one’s very own eyes? Such fascination was the dawn of the modern era.
The nights were no longer dark. At dusk, lamplighters were seen hurrying through the streets. A warm orange bloomed as soon as their magical poles touched the seemingly empty glass cages. With their light, men now wandered fearlessly in the domain in which they had never dared to set foot. Men have a blinding yelling for light, they are much alike the moths in that way.
It seemed the age of reasons and science held no place for the darkness and madness from the old world such as me. Let not the momentary bitterness mislead you, I do enjoy and determined to take advantages of the modern technologies.
We took train then steamship. Thanks to the impurity of my lineage, sunlight is not as deadly as it is to my kin. Even so we planned most of our days on vehicles, so by nightfall, we were able to catch up with some 'last-minutes' sightseeing. In the guises of humans we walked the streets. We mingled in the salons, indulging ourselves in the gossips and harangues about politics and wars. It was a long slumber and I had so much to take in.
Such was the case when we arrived at the port of Amsterdam, I still remember that day, the fifteenth day of October, 1845. We disembarked from the ship, which's name I cannot recall. My Dutch had escaped me after all those years, it was never my forte to begin with. As a result we were much obscured at the customs. Then he showed up, a lean and sturdy man of his mid-twenties. His face was clearly shaved, sharp chin, thin lips, straight nose, a pair of slightly sunken eyes shone a smart grey, broad forehead half tumbled over by reddish hair. A gentleman of his era, he came to our assistance. "This young lady is hoping to retrieve her luggage." He spoke, and after that, it was plain sailing, he personally saw to the end of it. "Good evening ladies and enjoy your stay." He opened the carriage door for us, tipping his hat. "What a man of good heart." Eolynn commented at his receding figure, and I agreed.
We both thought it was the end but no, none could assume the will of the Fate. The next morning, mostly out of my whim, we went to the Rijksmuseum. As we walked pass that famous painting of Rembrandt, 'The Night Watch'.
"Such peculiar light and shadow…" Eolynn marvelled, "Though to me, it seems a little…odd…"
"I did not know there is an artist in you, Eolynn." I jested.
"Forgive me, my lady…it's just…" She turned red immediately.
"Oh Eolynn, you have sharp eyes! It puzzled me quite some time, until I came to know that…this painting in fact pictures the day time." Eolynn's eyes widened. "Rembrandt and his Tenebrism, the violent construction of light and dark. When darkness becomes the dominating tone, men's eyes spontaneously seek the light."
"Gut gesagt, Fräulein. (Well said, Miss)" We turned in unison, it was HIM!
"Guten Morgen, Fräulein. Wir treffen uns wieder. (Good morning, Miss. We meet again.)" He spoke, lips lovely curved, face beamed with iridescence of joy. He wore a simple suit that day, simple, smart and sturdy, as he always will be.
"Guten Tag, mein Herr. Welch ein zufall! (Good day, sir. What a coincidence!)"
That day, we followed the will of the Fate by becoming each's company. Curious was that none of us made a formal introduction, we just went along, like long lost friends, or as if we all knew the sharing of our names would be the end of it. We strolled along the bank of Kloveniersburgwal. The sweet languor of autumn sun gilded my parasol (can you believe she was carrying that????), dappling my face with lace patterns. A slight burning tingle, but it was harmless, the unshaded sunlight, it could not hurt me, not for now. The tall and straight elm trees now wore their crowns of golden leaves, such brightness and animation of the various shades of yellow, orange and tangerine. Layers and layers, the fallen leaves set the meadow beneath aflame. I picked up one leaf for he, he looked at me enquiringly.
"Elm symbolises a steady strength, it suits you." I gave him a smile. "Fräulein, we barely know each other, we haven't spent half a day together." He laughed, eyes warmly lit, I knew I was right.
"I know a man when I see him." I shrugged.
"If you say so, then I shall cherish it, my lady." He clipped the leaf in between the pages of a notebook he was carrying.
Oh Fate, blinding Fate, I should have seen it. That notebook, the one I would see for millions of times from now on, had the Emblem of Rosenschwert right on its cover…
Still the time flowed away blissfully. He was our guide that day, he showed us around Amsterdam, his home city. We ventured her streets, embraced her people, we shared a lunch and an evening opera. And finally when he escorted us back to the gate of our hotel, I…asked his name.
"Abraham, Abraham van Helsing, at your service." With a wide grin he bowled histrionically. I froze, oh merciful Dark Mother, if you have filled my days with endless darkness, why show me this breif, unattainable light?
Eolynn my loyal companion I should have followed thy advice, I should have just left…but alas I did not. By the will of the blinding Fate I chose to stay. I rented an accommodation in the city's wealthier and quieter district. The hotel was made known of my new address, I did not know why, perhaps I was in fact…waiting? And yes, he did come, by the will of Fate, he rang my doorbell at dusk three days later. I just awoke from my day slumber, the visit was unexpected. Eolynn answered the door, I had to get changed as fast as I can. He dropped by for a brief stop, clearly my new residential place reassured him. He stayed for a cup of tea.
"Thinking closely, Fräulein, I do not yet know how to address you properly." Through the steam, his eyes glittered with expectations.
"Maybe one day, when you save this damsel in distress…" I looked away absentmindedly, half jesting, curling a wisp of my hair around my finger. Oh Abraham, may that day never came.
The following days were certainly blessed by Amainna, he'd came over, we'd had conversations about many things, arts, literature, history…we shared so many fascinating points of views. Sometimes he would even write his doctoral paper in my study.
"Quite an intriguing collection of books for a young lady." He commented.
Even so he never disclosed his association with the Guild of Rosenschwert, neither did I ask, nor said anything about myself. Something is better left untouched. He'd asked me out occasionally, to museums and parks, to some artists' galleries he gained acquaintance with. One of them suggested a painting featuring us, I could see the light in his eyes, but I turned him down politely. How could I give him such illusion? An illusion I was secretly hoping to become true, was I not…
One afternoon, he showed up at my doorsteps. Luckily I was awake. I had adjusted my schedule for him, which I must admitted was effecting my vitality. He concernedly asked about my health.
"It is nothing, I am bored." I managed an evasion.
Then his eyes lit up, he said he knew something would lift my spirit. I smiled and asked him what it was. He cheerfully handed over an invitation letter, his doctoral graduation ball, held by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Amsterdam! How could I turn him down this time? I was truly happy for him and I said yes, I would attend the ball as his companion.
Arrayed in my finest I ascended the carriage with him that night, his gaze was fixed on me the way to the university hall. "You are one of the God's finest creations…" He admired. I laughed, bitterly, if only he knew who I am…what I am...
He proudly introduced me to his teachers and mentors, his seniors…I saw the doubt and wariness in those elderly eyes, they were judging me. But I determined not to let anything ruin this night. I played humble and demure, flattering their academic egos. They bought it, satisfied and finally left the younglings to themselves.
Then, he asked me for a dance. Across the floor we spun, my skirt flew in the air. The chandeliers' light, the perfumes' aroma, the guests' chatting, all faded away, there were only him and…me…we looked right into each’s eyes. Syllable expression was no longer needed…all were written in those eyes, those windows to the soul…a fluttering tingle through my dead heart…could it be…could it be what men named love?
An interval between music, we were sitting on the balcony, holding hands. One of Abraham's fellow students came over for a conversation, he pointed to a photographer who was taking pictures for the graduates and their companions. He encouraged Abraham, and Abraham looked at me…I obliged. We went over, that is the only photo we shared…
With the completion of his doctor degree, Abraham was now an official employee of his university. He'd drop by regularly, but not as often, the teaching barely spared him any time. For half a month nothing from him…I…had an unease...was it…worry? A few days went by, nothing from him, what came instead was a series of horrendous news. Young women went missing from streets and were found distorted and dismembered some days later, the city was engulfed by fear.
It was then he knocked on my door. His eyes were sunken, deeper than ever, and bloodshot. His chin no longer clean, but covered with the stubble of several nights. There was something about his face, was it worry? Was he worrying about…me? He apologised for his absence and relieved to find me safe and sound. I assured him this was a safe district. It did not ease his panic, he paced back and forth and finally sat beside me. He held my hand and told me he has something to confess. He said things I already knew, his association with the Hunter Guild, and things I did not, some of his fellow Hunters' families had fallen victims to this maniac…
My body rigified, he thought it was fear but no, it was anger. Sounded too much like revenge to me, what kind of coward vent his or her resentment on innocent people? I reassumed him again and again, promising I would not put myself in danger, I even offered him my help, which he declined immediately.
"I just wish you safe." He said.
As soon as he left I ordered my own investigation. Gone for a long time maybe, the Lady of Ja-Ṣin (ya-TSin) would never allow herself running out of cards to play. We looked into the crime scenes and police documents, I even contacted a friend in the Veiled Court of the Morrigans…He'd come for visit sometimes, and I'd guide him, pretended as unintentionally of course. Soon we made the shockingly discovery that these devilries were not mere murders but satanic experiments/rituals, and they were done in the guise of me! Abraham brought information from the Guild that validified the deduction. The news of my awakening had spread far and swift, there were those had taken the advantage of it. All who know me should know my fury, tis was when I decided to take this matter into my own hands…
There were complications, but he finally came to the realisation of the true suspect...Just it was not as hard for me than him to believe, a Magister of the Guild of Rosenschwert.
I offered myself as a bait, he, who had grown increasingly confident as well as wary about me, agreed reluctantly. All went according to plan, I was attacked and kidnapped and he followed us to the suspect’s hideout. I must confess it was my underestimation that ruined it. The hunted stabbed me in the abdomen with a Litêllā (li-Tel-lah) blade. My blood welled out, Abraham rushed to my aid. He pressed onto my wound shakily to no avail, I saw the dread in his eyes. I handed him a small vial, from which he poured out a pile of shimmering blue powder, the extracts of Moondew flowers. The bleeding was immediately stopped as soon as he applied the powder to my wound.
The vial slipped between his fingers, he knew this substance, he knew what it does. He staggered backwards.
"In the name of God…Fräulein, what is your name! You said I shall know it the day I save you…"
"Alinna." I muttered.
The old Magister let out a shrieking laugh: "Fair creature of the night, beware of her amber stare. Hair of the darkest noir, no escape a snare charred. I knew... " He wheezed. "I told you it is HER!"
I stood up facing down to him, "You smeared my name, by Amainna I cannot allow this."
Abraham turned his blade to me, "You will not touch him, the Guild will take over from now on."
The Magister laughed a hysterical laugh, "Neither of you will have me, nor the Guild, nor you Lylthian. It was started by my hands, it shall end in my hands!" He cast himself into the fire…
There passed the old Magister Karnstein, a man who had been driven mad by his fear of mortality.
"Do you hate me?" I asked him.
"You lied to me, you played me like a fool…" how his words scorched.
"No Abraham, I neve wanted to harm you. I was afraid…afraid to lose you, I was too lonely…"
"And alone you shall remain…"
There are no more tales I can tell…I took the blame instead of Karnstein, I did this out of my own will, to protect the name of the Guild, mainly his. I was the Delilah in their version of our story. A righteous Hunter fell under the spell of a treacherous siren but came to his senses eventually. Such as the way it was, it is and it will be...I moved to the land of Albion shortly after, we still remained in contact but only for business matters. He got married three years later, his bride Roseanne was adored by the Guild and he loved her with all his heart. I was happy for him and truly envied her. Abraham was a man of steady strength, loyalty and responsibility. Long may their love be. Together they had two children, Adam and Annita. Adam grew much alike his father, strong, steady, he would have made a fine Hunter had Fate not stricken him off guard. Annita was kidnapped during a mission, Adam went to her rescuer. I managed to save Annita, but Adam…he fell…
"I saved your life, you saved my daughter's, we are even now…" His eyes were peaceful...almost plain. The pain of the loss of a child stripped Roseanne of her sanity. As a faithful husband Abraham did all he could but to no avail, still he cared for her until the end of her days. Magister van Helsing passed away at the age of 130, a blissful age for a van Helsing. He lived a great Hunter, a master to many extraordinary students. Many attended his funeral including me. I saw his spirit, guarded and accompanied by the feathered Morrigans, I knew he saw me, I whispered him farewell…then I saw the dried elm leaf through his clutched fingers….
May the lullaby of the Morrigans lull him to his rest…