history lesson-


The Story Of A Vigil
by HumbugGirl

At night she had begun to slip over the wall and creep down into the camps. It hadn't taken long for her to discover that some industrious inn keeper had created a route from an upstairs window in his establishment to the roof of the neighbouring house and then to the battlements that anyone could make use of for a price. The route suited her needs perfectly. It was well hidden from sight and kept secret at all costs from the patrolling soldiers and the town authorities. In fact the only people who did know of it were the thieves and whores who would climb down every night to ply their trades in the army camps.

As the whores tended to attract too much attention Ana had purchased some boy's clothing and styled herself as a thief. After dinner was finished and she could safely retire to her room without drawing any suspicions in the minds of her mother and father then the girl would feign tiredness. Up in her bedroom Ana would change into her nightdress with the aid of her maid then into her newly acquired clothing once the other woman had gone. Black curls were tucked up under a cap to hide them and she wrapped bandages tightly about her chest to mask ample cleavage. The britches were disturbingly close to her skin while soft leather boots enclosed her lower legs and a scratchy yellowed shirt billowed about her slender arms. Over the top of it all she slipped on a dark blue dress coat. To complete the outfit a fine rapier with a special wooden inlay was strapped to her waist on a belt and a stake tucked into the waist band at her back.

The finished look she received on glancing in the ancient polished mirror she owned always rather pleased Ana. While she no longer looked exactly like a young woman there was still something decidedly feminine about her appearance that appealed to the sense of pride she always felt in her features.

Like she always did, even before the present circumstances, Ana boosted herself up to perch in the window sill of her bedroom. Easing herself to her feet and supporting herself by gripping the wall Ana reached across to the branch of the old cedar tree growing nearest the house. From there it was simple to swing across to the tree and position her feet on a lower branch then leapt to the perimeter wall of her parent's property.

The streets of the town were deserted as Ana jogged silently through them, keeping close to the houses and avoiding the patches of light coming from them. There was the light gentle smell of jasmine dancing through the warm air and in the distance the girl could hear the sounds of harp music and sweet tingling laughter. As she passed the church the midnight bell sounded in time to the chatting of the priests within and Ana was once again reminded of why exactly it was she continued in her work.

There were two soldiers sat outside the inn as she rounded the corner and slowed her pace to stride up to the front door. Ana took a deep breath and straightened her back while keeping her face dipped and hoping that they wouldn't be able to see her features. The inn door stood open letting golden light flood out into the street and over the cobbles and she easily sidestepped the two men who attempted to stop her from entering and engage in conversation. Inside she was met by the smell of tobacco smoke and roasting meat mixed with that of the poor vinegar wine that they'd been reduced to selling. It wafted through the air to her, drenching her clothes and turning her stomach slightly.

It only took a matter of seconds to catch the eye of the man behind the bar. He recognised her instantly though his expression was one of surprise. "I thought you weren't going to be back for another two nights," he said as she approached the bar and leaned against it.

"My plans changed," Ana said looking up at him. There was something about this man, about the way he talked to her, that made her almost certain that he knew she wasn't what she was pretending to be. Gathering her courage the girl looked him in the eye. "Can I come through or not?"

He nodded, perhaps somewhat reluctantly and waved at the serving girl who had been circling the room to come and look after the bar.

Ana dipped underneath the divide and followed him through a door that led to a set of stairs. "I have the feeling that you're going to end up getting me in one type of trouble or another," he said starting up them. Ana said nothing in reply and he glanced over his shoulder at her. "Don't bring trouble here. Remember I'm doing you a great favour."

They'd reached the top and now stood on the landing Ana reached into her coat pocket and brought out a coin that she handed over to him. "Will that be enough for tonight?"

"This is only half," he told her holding it up and looking at her expectantly.

"I won't be coming back."

His eyes widened in surprise then narrowed again in suspicion. "What are you going to do?" he asked and for just the briefest second Ana thought she heard concern in his voice.

As confidently as she could Ana replied, "I'm getting out while I can."

"It isn't that bad. The Captain says that we'll have forced them back a little way by the time the week's out and that reinforcements are on the way." Ana shook her head and moved to go out the window and make her way to the roof but a hand on her shoulder stopped her. "I'm sure they'll take you back," he said.

"What do you mean?"

He gave a short, brief smile. "You thought I wouldn't recognise you? I don't know what you do all those nights you disappear over the wall but I know it can't be good and if your family found out then..."

Ana placed a finger to his lips to silence him. "I do what I must and after tonight it won't matter anymore. I cannot stay here any longer; I must move on."

"But it can't be safe. Something might happen to you."

It was her turn to smile a little. "I have nothing to fear anymore."

Ana didn't wait for him to speak again but shrugged his hand off and climbed out through the window and used the makeshift ladder there to climb up to the roof. Out of curiosity she glanced down and saw that he was already closing the shutters after her. From here it was easy to simply walk across the roof tops and found her way onto the battlements. As usual the soldier's posted there were otherwise occupied and it was easy to find the boy who was in charge of the rope ladder that people could use to climb up and down the wall.

Carlos smiled as he saw her approach and waved in a manner that was so friendly that Ana almost regretted the decision that she had come to. Over the past few weeks they had come to know each other quite well and Ana had to admit that she liked the boy. He had been orphaned early on in the war and had found his way to her town almost by accident. The local thieves had taken him in and begun to teach him their trade and from him Ana had learnt many things she needed to keep up her disguise. Even he though did not know why she wished to know these things.

They spoke briefly before he dropped the ladder over the edge so that she could climb down. Having reached the ground she tugged four times sharply on the rope and waited while Carlos had successfully pulled it up. The ground beneath her feet was not like that in the town. There was no one here to supply it with the water it so vitally needed to grow the beautiful trees that people so carefully cultivated within the town walls and in the daytime the sun scorched all life from its surface leaving the earth dry and barren. Ana hated looking out at it all during the light of day.

It seemed to her that the days always seemed longer now. Everyday she would hide inside with her parents who insisted that she stay where they could keep an eye on her and listen to the sound of canon and gunshot outside. There was always a part of her that wished she were out there helping. In her heart she knew she could make a difference but every time the thought occurred to her she reminded herself of Richard's stern face warning her against giving in too much, telling her of the ancient code of her kind.

When he had turned up in the town two years ago everyone had thought that he was a madman. They had joked about him just being another eccentric English man, running away from whatever responsibilities that he had in his home land. They had watched the cart after cart of bags and boxes and crates roll into the town with amused expression on their faces. Yet they had tolerated him because deep down they had sensed that beneath his serious exterior he was fundamentally a good man.

Ana had known he was a good man. Oh, he had amused her at first too and she had often laughed about him with her friends. They too had found the 'strange young Englishman' handsome and mysterious and she had hardly believed her luck when he had cornered her one evening at a dance and started up a conversation with her. What he had told her had hardly been what she expected, what she wanted to hear.

A slayer. She was a slayer. She was to be a mystical warrior who was destined to fight the forces of evil and save all mankind and eventually die for it because slayers didn't survive to grow old and have families. And for a while she had thought he was mad. Ana had left him standing outside in the garden and rushed back inside and spent the rest of evening keeping very close to her mother fearing hearing anymore of his words. But she hadn't said anything to anyone about him thinking that maybe it was just a seduction that he used on girls and that had made her feel foolish. She had been glad to know that no one else ever found out about the meeting between them.

When she failed to hear of him making any similar attempts with other girls Ana had begun to doubt her convictions. At sixteen she knew she was pretty but she was also aware that she was not beautiful enough to inspire such complete devotion in a man. It seemed he was always there though. Often she became aware of being observed and turned to find herself looking right into those pale blue eyes. In those foreign orbs there was knowledge and understanding and to Ana's distress a powerful connection.

It had taken her months to accept his words. The dreams weakened her resolve never to speak to him of the subject again but what finally convinced her that he was right, that there was something different about her, was the day she had broken the lock on Maria's gate by accident. With strength she had never realised she possessed she had snapped the annoyingly stiff latch in half to everyone's surprise. Word of the event must have reached Richard as the very next day he had gone to her father and offered to teach her languages saying he had been impressed with her apparent natural ability for them when they had talked together. In his naivety her father had believed him.

So, much to her chagrin Richard had found a way to hold her as a captive audience while he preached his words of monsters and destinies without lessons of English, Latin, French and German. Her father had never objected to the strange hours of the lessons and the daytrips that Richard proposed into the countryside and the way he insisted on no distractions or interruptions while he was teaching to the point where he suggested all lessons occur at his own home. Still he father had not objected. He liked the Englishman and trusted him and did not believe under any circumstances he would behave inappropriately. For once in her life Ana had wished that he wasn't quite so willing for her to be more than his little girl.

She laughed at him; even when he talked of strange dreams and unusual strength because she didn't want to believe him. When he mentioned speed and agility, new honed senses then she would listen carefully but show an air of amusement and pretend she didn't believe him. Occasionally Richard would become frustrated and go off into a rant in his native language, storming out of the room only to return a few minutes later to find her sat in the exact same position as she had left her in with a knowing smile on her lips. Then he would stare at her for a moment and return to trying to teach her about some demon in one of his books.

The weapons were the truly interesting part of the day. Richard would present her with a stake or a knife or a crossbow and place it on the table before her. To humour him Ana would inspect them then give them back to him with very little interest apparent in her features and return to reading whatever book she had been provided with.

"Why won't you at least try?" he surprised her one day by asking. In uncharacteristic desperation Richard had moved to kneel by her chair, taking her hands in his and resting them on her lap. "Just once. You'll understand then."

Ana had sighed, keeping her gaze on his face and trying to ignore the wealth of emotions his presence always brought over her. Biting her lower lip lightly she had gently tugged one hand free of his grasp and cupped the side of his face. His eyes had widened ever so slightly at her gesture and in them Ana could see an odd softening. Gathering her courage she had leaned forwards, and brushed her lips against his.

Richard had shot to his feet, nearly displacing her from her seat. His skin changed from bright red to deathly pale in the space of a few seconds and she was sure he was going to pass out. Standing she had taken a step towards the flustered young man to steady him only to find herself waved away. He struggled with his words for what seemed like an eternity and Ana had felt her face begin to burn in embarrassment wondering what had ever possessed her to do anything so forward. Tears had risen in her eyes and she made to leave only to find that Richard had stepped into her path.

"Ana," he said. "It isn't allowed. I wish to God it was but the Council has rules against that sort of thing. I'm your watcher; I can not be anything else in their eyes."

Shaking her head in disbelief she had heard herself say, "You would let some council..." Her words trailed off.

Richard stepped closer to her but seemed to have to convince himself of something to do so. Late afternoon sunlight caught his features through the open window and she drew in a sharp breath at the sight of him stood there. "It's not that I don't want to. I... For the good of us all you must have no distractions from your work."

"I am not a slayer!" she had exclaimed loudly, glad that they were at his house and not at home. "I do not want to be. You can't make me."

"No I can't. If I had a choice then I would let the responsibility fall on some other girl who I would never even have to look at because I could spend the rest of my life here with you. If I had the choice then I would march straight to your father and tell him I love you but I can't. There is no choice for me as there is no choice for you."

With wide eyes she had stared at him in shock at the effect his words had over her. When he made no immediate reply he had run a hand back through dark hair and turned away from her. "You should go now. There's nothing more we can do today." Ana had opened her mouth but changed her mind and hurried from the building.

The next day when she had returned for her lesson the only person in the building had been Richard's housekeeper. From the woman she discovered that he had been called away to England and that he had left a letter. It had been brief and to the point and giving her instructions of books she could borrow and telling her that he thought it wise they spent some time apart.

Sinking into a chair Ana had felt her heart break a little. On a spur of the moment decision she collected the books he had recommended and several others that covered topics including fighting techniques and demon lore. By the time he had returned Ana had already been venturing out into the town cemeteries to seek out vampires on her own. She could still remember the startled expression when he had wandered into one of the cemeteries on the night of his return to the town and found her grappling with a fledgling. At first Ana had not noticed him and it was only when the vampire's dust had been settling to the ground that she turned and saw him stood by a grave.

Crying his name Ana had launched herself at him, wrapping her arms about his middle. After a moment or two, she had never remembered how long as time had seemed of little consequence, Richard had put his arms around her shoulders and held her close. Looking up at him she had said, very earnestly, "Promise me you'll never leave again. I'll do whatever you say but promise me you'll never leave."

"I... I promise," he said and Ana had smiled brilliantly at him. "You silly girl," he added, gently scolding her. "You could have got hurt or killed. You need to work on you reflexes. You..." For a second he seemed to fade away as she looked at him with expectant eyes. There was a hesitation then he placed a kiss on her lips and buried his face in her hair.


It had become her habit to start at the hospital tents. Even to human sense lesser even than her own, the stink of blood and disease was evident with Death waiting in the wings. Ana reasoned that the combined smells would prove tempting to the vampires and had unfortunately found herself proven right. Within the camp they could move unnoticed, many having stolen uniforms from their victims, and pick and choose who to kill. Among the sick and dying mysterious wounds such as bites marks were hardly noticed as the camp doctor frantically tried to get his patients back on their feet to fight again. Besides, history had long taught that people ignored the truth of what they saw in such cases and would prefer other explanations.

She slipped silently around the tent flap and let it fall back into place with no whisper. Oil lamps glowed at both ends of the long tent lighting the sleeping faces of the doctor and the men lying on makeshift beds. At the far side from where she stood a vampire looked up from where it had been feasting, blood painting its chin and facial ridges marred its features. A snarl revealed pointed fangs. Her clothing was a red dress, stained and torn and clear evidence of the fact she much have been living as a revenant. Yellow eyes glanced at Ana and the creature leapt, landing in the aisle just before the young slayer.

It did not take her too long to dispose of the opponent who seemed to have only been recently turned. Inexperience filled every movement as Ana easily out-manoeuvred her and plunged the stake she was holding home. She was left standing in the silence amazed that no one else in the tent had noticed the disturbance.

Exiting quickly before someone did notice her presence Ana made a brief survey of the perimeter of the tent checking for any rips in the canvas that someone or something might enter through unnoticed. In the pale moonlight Ana found one more of the demons creeping around the area and disposed of him then moved on to the other areas of the camp.

The night stirred on and Ana refused to tire. The vampires she confronted were predominantly fledglings, converted to creatures of darkness in only the past few weeks. While the funeral pyres of the camp were helpful in decreasing the numbers that survived to their second night Ana had been disappointed by how few had been dismissed by the flames. They spent their days hiding in the old cemeteries and vaults of the surrounding villages or in the cellar of burnt out houses and even sometimes just digging themselves shallow havens under the earth. Ana could no longer count the number of the beasts she had now killed.

One though had evaded her. Every night she scoured the camp and the countryside desperately searching and yet never wanting to find the creature because she knew if she did then her heart might burst. Then Richard's words would echo in her mind and she knew beyond everything else, in spite of everything else that she should and must do her duty.


"We weren't made to live in the real world," he told her one evening. They were laid in his bed having just spent a delicious couple of hours together with the pale moonlight shinning in through the open window. Though she had been resisting the urge to move knowing that to do so would bring her one step closer to leaving for the night Ana shifted against his naked frame and looked up into soft blue eyes. They had a slightly clouded appearance about them giving him the air of a man who had been dreaming.

"What do you mean, my love?"

The look he gave her was indulgent. A hand danced across her stomach and the man wrapped his arm about her waist and pulled her towards him in order to kiss her. When they parted he said, "Surely you have realised by now considering all that you know." At her blank expression he added, "We live in a world that people only dream of. We live in a world that should only exist in dreams and we must work to keep it that way. By being in this time, by being placed in these circumstances we place ourselves in a position of responsibility; one in which we should look after all that is around us at whatever the cost."

A tremor had grown in her slowly as a sense of impending darkness stole quickly in Ana's heart and she fought to keep it away. "You are thinking too much again," she told him almost playfully.

With not the slightest bit of humour in his voice her lover had replied, "It is my place to do so."

Ana could remember sliding away from him slightly, running for the seriousness of the sound of his voice and the look in his eyes. Almost angrily she had said to him, "Some prices are too much."

He had nodded in agreement. "But that does not change the fact that they must be paid."


The camp was aglow with orange and yellow light from the flames of the many fire making domes of warmth and protection. As Ana moved with a predator's grace around their edges she marvelled at the men who lolled about, talking quietly amongst themselves with little knowledge of the creatures that moved between their numbers. Occasionally she caught sight of one or two of them wandering away from the safety of their companions and followed to ensure that they would remain safe as her prey invariably made those she guarded the subjects of their hunt. The chatter eased her, reminded her that these were men and despite what they were doing to her home town they were still God's creatures and deserved her protection. They were not the demons that her fellow town's folk claimed they were, nor were they driven with lusts for conquests and death but simply men like so many she knew who only wanted adventure or to live with their profession.

Yet she still found herself distanced, aware that she might be taken for the enemy if caught within their ranks and so she kept to the shadows that she fought to drive away from them. Ana backed away slowly from their haven to continue her vigil in the darkness only to find her eyes captured by the all too familiar figure of a man stood a few paces behind her.

He was leaned casually against the large wheel of a wagon and even at this distance Ana found it difficult to make out the shapes of his face. From his stance she determined that he had been stood in the same position for some time, that he had probably been watching her all the while that she watched the men around the camp fire and the discovery unnerved the girl somewhat. She had expected to be attacked. She had expected to be taunted to both truths and lies but she had never expected to be merely watched. A sensation began to well in her heart that maybe she had been wrong about the man standing there so very still, maybe he wasn't one of them, maybe he was still human but almost immediately there was an answering pain in her gut that warned her that he was anything but human. It rippled through her as energy coursed to every inch of her being and yet Ana still felt the numbness of tiredness seeping into her body.

She stepped forwards, very much aware of the fact the he dwarfed her and that she suddenly felt uncomfortable in her previously proudly worn disguise. She felt clumsy, like a child who had just realised that they had gotten themselves into a situation that they could not control. It felt like the time she had been caught taking a candle from the vestry in the local church because she had thought that no one would notice and she needed something with a little extra light to help her with a plan to destroy a creature of the night. It felt like every single one of her peers was suddenly stood before her, each with stern faces, ready to judge her.

"I came."

"I noticed," he replied and there was a degree of smugness to his voice that was alien. He cocked his head to one side and after a moment longer of studying her said, "You've been searching for a 'cure' haven't you?"

She nodded briefly.

"I could have told you that you would not find anything."

"There has to be something," she objected. "There has to be some way to..."

"To bring me back?" Ana lowered her eyes slightly not wanting to see the amusement that danced across his features as a low chuckle rumbled from deep inside of him. "You always were an optimist Ana, my love." He stepped out of the shadow and more into the dim light from the fire behind her. For the first time she glimpsed the clothes he wore were different from the ones she had last seen him in and wondered who he had been forced to kill to claim them. The cut was not him; it was much too modern and far too native in comparison to those he had always worn while he had been alive. It made him look strange in her eyes and Ana could not get over the fact that this was her Richard stood before her.

He was stood close to her now, too close in fact and she knew that she should take a step away before he tried to attack but her feet seemed to be stuck somehow to the floor and she could only try to calm herself and measure her breath as he began to circle her. "Tell me," he said, pausing on his circuit to stand behind her and lean in close to her ear. "Have you missed me?" A hand wandered around her waist and rested on her stomach. Ana found herself being pulled back against a hard body, unable to do anything in defence as the softness of his words washed over her. "Have you missed sitting outside on warm nights talking with me? Have you missed laughing with me and dancing? Have you missed those hurried little kisses and the way in which I used to find every opportunity to touch you? Have you missed lying with me in bed? Eh, my sweet? I can't hear you."

He had been making small circle patterns on the flat of her stomach as he talked that were too familiar to be comforting. The words stuck in her throat and Ana had to swallow twice before they would come out. "You... you're not him."

That low chuckle erupted against from his chest and Ana could feel it rumbling against her back. "I'm as close to him as will ever exist again. Don't you want to find out how close, Ana?" His lips were suddenly on her neck and Ana fought for control over her mixed emotions, one telling her to lean into him and the other telling her to flinch away. She kept very still and he brought his hand up to lie over her heart. "You can tell me whatever you wish to but this, this does not lie."

In the silence of her mind Ana cursed her heart for betraying her in more ways than one. Taking a deep breath she broke his hold on her and stepped away, turning to face him as she did. "I will save you," she told him in as confident a voice as she could manage.

The small smile returned to his lips giving him a kind of devilish quality, even more daunting than the sight of the demon inside of him rising to the surface would have been. "And if I don't want to be saved?"

"That doesn't matter anymore."

He stared at her and ever so slowly realisation seemed to dawn on the vampire. The creature who had been Richard widened his eyes and the smirk disappeared. "You won't do it. You'll fail. You don't have it in you."

"Then I will find it in you; in your memory."

She tried to pretend it was practice as she drew her sword and swiped it through the air. Richard suddenly smiled at her, baring the white of elongated fangs and from nowhere drew a soldier's sabre. He moved quicker that anything she had ever seen in her life. Never before had she encountered a vampire that was so knowledgeable in the arts of fighting as this one who stood before her now. It seemed that they fought for hours, stumbling over each other in the dark and moving throughout the length of the camp using cat and mouse games to try and defeat each other. There was an apparently inexhaustible lines of punches flying back and forth in amongst the frequent attacks with their blades and eventually Ana felt herself beginning to tire. She flagged, becoming clumsier and clumsier in her movements until eventually see fell and she felt the tip of Richard's piece the flesh between her ribs and then withdraw. Blood welled in the wound and Ana gasped, crying out in pain as she was suddenly disarmed and he stood above her with a grim smile on his lips.


Crimson light crept over the distant horizon and slowly drenched the surrounding countryside as the soldiers began to rise. They crawled from their beds and sought among the camp for those of them who had fallen during the night either to the mysterious assassins that took their chance to creep around the camp or the equally strange disease that seemed to be sweeping through their number.

To their surprise they found the body of a young boy who on closer inspection was discovered possess a wealth of dark hair tucked under his cap and hence be discovered to be a girl. They wondered about the body, whose throat had been torn out, most probably by the numerous scavengers that had made the camp their own feeding ground. The body was taken with those others to the grounds where the dead went disposed of. Not one saw it twitch as the flame first brushed its fingers tips.