Epoch

Baron Amon La Croix sets off with his scribe, Aurelia to Silverthorn Ravine where a dynasty of vampires reside. His plan; be transformed into one himself in order to spare the life of his dying girlfriend, Elizabeth Cowell. After returning to his fief to discover Elizabeth had passed away not twenty four hours before his return, Amon seeks comfort from Aurelia who has taken the oath to serve him, regardless. However, seeking comfort from a girl who utterly terrified of what he has become isn't easy…


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3. Plagued

It began with a touch. A simple handshake; transmitting from one being to another. Coughing. Hacking. Blood. It was all just the beginning. Shivering, screeching. Writhing, wailing. It had enveloped the fief like a vial fog. Nobody could escape it – nobody could hide.  The milky white, lifeless cadavers that were scattered throughout the stone-flagged streets where they originally fell. The high-pitched, hysterical keening from the friends and family of the deceased. Their cause of death was unknown, however, the symptoms were all identical. At first, it could have been passed for a common cold, perhaps with prolonged side effects.  Coughing, sneezing, yes. Yes, it seemed simple enough. The dotted blistering of the skin and peeling of the flesh, however, was unexplainable. The fief’s doctors could do little to provide an antidote, rather, whatever remedies’ they concocted seemed to aggravate the virus and speed up its progression throughout the body.
Baron Amon La Croix stood overlooking his fiefdom from the floor-to-ceiling glass panelled window in his drawing room. Running his pallid fingers through his silky black hair, Amon let out an aggravated sigh.
“Aurelia,” he said, his voice low. “What say the doctors from our neighbouring fiefs? And Baron Moreau?”
Pushing her small glasses up her nose, Aurelia’s eyes travelled down the scant replies scribbled hastily across several pieces of parchment.
“It seems, Baron, that they neither know of any antidote to save the village people, nor want to risk sending their medics to our aid for fear of contracting the virus themselves.  As for Baron Moreau; he is far too busy grieving the loss of his wife to even consider the wellbeing of our fief at the moment. “
Amon let out another sigh, pivoting sharply on his foot, his golden eyes locking onto the silver haired girl who sat behind the writing desk – the tip of the quill in her hands tapping on the shiny wooden surface of the desk as she awaited his orders.
“Aurelia,” he said, crossing the small distance between them. “I have turned a blind eye to this for far too long. You must try and find a solution to this! Do you understand?”
Nodding once, the silver haired girl bit down on her tongue to withhold a snide remark.
The medics were trained professionally in the Alcina fief’s apothecary – one of the best for miles. They had trained long and hard, beginning apprenticeships at the early age of four or five until finally, after no less than fourteen years of shadowing their superiors, they were finally qualified.
As for Aurelia, what was she compared for someone who had trained for so long in the art of medicine? How was she to possibly come up with a solution for this… This outbreak?
“Yes, Baron,” she said getting to her feet. “If I may request permission for Castle Alcina’s library, I’ll begin my research.”
Amon nodded once towards the door. “Very well,” he said, gesturing to her with one hand. “But, before you go, I have one final request.”
“Yes, Baron?”
“The love of my life, Elizabeth Cowell still resides in her cottage on the outskirts of the village. Please escort her back to Castle Alcina so that she may wait out this epidemic with us.”
“Yes, Baron.”
Getting to her feet, Aurelia quickly made her way out of the drawing room and into the cavernous labyrinth of torch-lit corridors of the castle.
Love of your life,” Aurelia grumbled to herself, “you mean your mistress – clearly.”
 

 

~Epoch~

 

Pausing at the end of the stone path that lead down from Castle Alcina into the village, Aurelia sucked in a small breath. The stench of the deceased hung low in the air, an eerily thick mist swirled around the town. The dark grey clouds hung low in the sky, baring the weight of a night-long downpour. Why Amon didn’t go out to escort the love of his life back to the castle himself was completely beyond Aurelia. Some love that was. Could it be that he didn’t want to risk contracting the virus himself so he sent his scribe to go risk her for his benefit? How utterly heartless of him.
Aurelia made a face as she passed through the lifeless town square.
“Sure,” she gloated, reassuring herself more than ever. “He can’t want to simply send me to my death. He’s completely useless without my help.”
Passing along the outskirts of the marketplace, the silver haired girl paused, her ears twitching at the sound of music and laughter.
So, the trade district still functioned amidst a crisis? Well, Aurelia decided, the living townsfolk needed to get food and supplies somehow.
Continuing through the otherwise silent village, Aurelia headed towards the small bracken-roofed cottage on the outskirts of the fief in which Elizabeth Cowell resided.  Knocking once on the wooden door, Aurelia was surprised when it swung open almost immediately revealing none other than Amon’s mistress, Elizabeth. Her long blonde hair fell in ringlets, framing her face, her large, innocent eyes of a brilliant blue held traces of curiosity and worry.
“Oh,” she said, her lips tugging upwards into a small smile. “You must be Amon’s scribe, Aurelia. It’s very nice to meet you.”
Lifting a fistful of her layered skirt, Elizabeth bowed her head in greeting.
Aurelia sighed quietly. “It’s a pleasure to meet you too, miss, but in all due respect, now is not the time for such greetings to be exchanged and acquaintances to be made. I’ve been sent to escort you to Castle Alcina right away under request from the Baron – it’s for your own safety.”
Elizabeth clapped her hands together once before disappearing inside her cottage. “I must bring Amon something, then. Perhaps I could-“
“Miss,” Aurelia said loudly, tapping her soft leather boot on the cottage’s single wooden step impatiently. “We haven’t the time. We must make a move now if we’re to make it back to the castle before nightfall.”
Reluctantly following the silver haired girl away from her cottage, Elizabeth let out a wistful sigh.
“Perhaps we can stop past the marketplace?” she suggested. “Oh, I really can’t just be invited to stay by Amon without getting him something in return.”
Aurelia ran a hand through her silvery hair. “Okay, fine. You’ve got ten minutes once you’re there to find him a gift of gratitude.”
Elizabeth giggled, smiling at the young scribe. “You certainly have a lot of personality,” she said.
Aurelia’s lips curled upwards into a small smile; however she deemed it best if she did not reply to the older woman’s statement.
As the two of them walked into the marketplace, Aurelia glanced around at the familiar stores.
After telling Elizabeth to meet her aside the deserted Blacksmith’s anvil, the silver haired girl walked slowly through the rows of scattered stalls, watching as people scurried past her, presumably back to their dwellings to tend to the sick, their arms filled with supplies. 
Aurelia’s lips pressed into a thin line as she walked past the tannery where, no more than two weeks ago, the Leatherworker had his wares proudly displayed. Where was the Leatherworker? Absolutely nowhere in sight. How… Curious. Furrowing her brow, Aurelia backed away slowly from the tannery and made her way back to the Blacksmith’s anvil, in which she was to meet Elizabeth. Careful not to touch her surroundings, Aurelia let out a quiet sigh, tracing a pattern in the loose dirt with the toe of her boot before the crunching of small rocks beneath hard-soled shoes made her glance upwards.
There, Elizabeth Cowell stood smiling proudly, a dozen apples cradled in her arms.
“Do you think Amon would like these?” she asked happily and Aurelia remained quiet, staring at her in disbelief. Apples?
“Where… Did you get those?” she asked and Elizabeth’s smile widened.
“From the fruit vendor, of course. The poor old dear – she looked so frail. It was the least I could do for her.”

 

~Epoch~

 


The two walked side by side in silence as they wove their way through the seemingly abounded village towards Castle Alcina, Elizabeth occasionally lifting an apple to her nose with her free hand and breathing in the rich, fruity scent.
“They look delicious, don’t they?” she asked finally, breaking the silence. Extending an arm, she held out a glossy red fruit to the silver haired girl. “Would you like one? It’s the least I can do to thank you for escorting me here.”
Aurelia smiled up at the blonde, shaking her head quickly. “No thank you, I’m not hungry.”
Elizabeth shrugged one shoulder before lifting the fruit to her lips and taking a large bite of the crisp flesh.
“Delicious,” she sighed, contentedly. “Yes, I’m certain – Amon will love them.”
 

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