The year was 1347 and tales of the Blue Sickness had come from the traders who went out to find treasures from places far away. I was a little girl, maybe aged seven, when I remember my father getting onto a ship that would take him away from home for a long time. It felt like forever, but even at that age, I knew that he would come back to us soon.
“Father!” I ran into his arms as my mother and older brother stood there waiting for their turns to say goodbye. I hugged him tightly, “Will you be safe?” I asked him.
He smiled and hugged me tightly, “I will be safe, but you need to be safe as well, little one. Have you found you angel?”
I nodded and showed him the sewn doll that mother had made for me. “His name is Metatron and mother made him.”
He looked over to his wife and beckoned her over. “My child says that you made her an angel, but I see the angel standing in front of me.” He kissed her and grabbed her with his other arm. He set me on the ground and I stepped away from the couple, letting them have their time together.
Father motioned for my brother forward, kneeling down to his eye level, “You are the man of the house, so I expect you to keep your family safe until my return. Can you make sure of that, lad?”
My brother nodded, “I can.” He hugged father, “Come home safely.”
“Aye, I will.” Father answered him, before we heard one of his shipmates call for him. He gathered us up for one last hug, gave my mother a kiss before he turned to leave on the ship. We waved him off, as the ship sailed towards the horizon and its treasures.
Later that year, the ship came back from the Far East, but the crew was dead. I never saw my father again, the ship having been burned in the harbor. The Blue Sickness has reached us and people were dying in droves, entire families have been wiped out, villages decimated… Including mine.
Mother had sent me to find berries in the forest, and I accidentally got lost following fairy lights. Priests found me wandering the forest and when we finally reached the village, the wooden buildings were on fire without screams. The priests told me that they had just come from there, where they had learned that everyone had died.
I ran from them, back into the forest that had kept me safe from the plague. I wandered from place to place for under a month, when a group of wandering people found me. I thought they were a God-send but instead, they destroyed my life in ways I would have never thought possible.
It was a new moon, when the sky is the darkest. The led me to a large hill, where a huge circular ring of stones guarded the center stone. I tried to run, but they were stronger than me, this tribe of twenty or so wanderers. The leader, a woman named Catherine, ordered someone to tie me up and lay me on the stone. Someone bound my hands and feet, before laying me out on the large central stone. I tried to scream, but someone gagged me with a piece of cloth.
Catherine removed her cloak, revealing a black gown underneath. She spoke, her words echoing in the night air, “Goddess Hecate, bless this place with your Might and Magic. Allow us this ceremony to create a feast for generations.” She pulled out a long dagger and I screamed through the gag. She gently cut my arm, using my blood to soak the blade in red. “This girl’s blood is pure and is made for troubled times as this. My Goddess Hecate, the plague walks among the humans and has diminished our supply of blood. Bless this girl with immorality and an ever-filling body of blood. Let us survive our feasting and protect us, your children of blood!”
Catherine was the first to taste my blood, licking it off of the dagger, as the High Priest came over and knelt down to me. He lifted me up onto my feet, before biting down into my neck. He drank his fill of blood, before the next person came and one by one, each of the vampires drank their fill of me. Catherine did not drink from me, neither did another vampire. She stopped him from trying my blood when the High Priest fell to the ground.
I saw his dagger and grabbed it, cutting the binds at my ankles and wrists. I ran as I heard her scream in hatred and fear. Her spell had gone horribly wrong and it caused the death of most of her tribe. I ran until I could not run anymore, finding myself in a fairy glen. I looked into the water and saw the bite mark completely healed. I looked at the dagger in my hand and cut my finger on its blade. I watched the skin sew itself back together, turning slightly pink, before fading to normal.
I was never hungry, nor thirsty or did I feel pain when I ran through the thickets and thorns in the forest. One day, I found a small church near a tiny little village. I opened the doors and found a priest praying to God to save his flock. I stepped into the church, covered in mud and dirt, my dress torn from the forest.
The priest turned and took one look at me before turning back to the cross where the Messiah hung. He walked over to me and I told him that my family was dead and that I had sinned. “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. The Blue Sickness stole my family and a lady in black found me. She was a vampire and did a spell on me. Her people drank my blood and they died. Father, I am a murderer and beg for forgiveness!”
The priest sat me down in a pew, “You were attacked by the Creatures of the Night and you are safe?”
I nodded to him, “Yes, Father.”
He grabbed my hands, “My dear, you could save my flock!”
“How so, Father?”
“Since the Blue Sickness has been coming through, my flock has been attacked by the vampires. You say that your blood is toxic to them.” He grabbed my shoulders and faced me towards him, “You are not a murderer, my child! You are the answer to my prayers!”
He gave me a book to write the names of my victims, where they found me and the thumbprint of the person I killed. I became his weapon and throughout the years, I grew older and stopped aging when I turned 25. He led me to his sect, where they molded me into their killing machine. The priests had given me the name Cerbera, named after a deadly flower. I hated the vampires that made me into the immortal weapon, so I took the jobs that came to me with glee. My little leather book became filled with the names of those who I had killed. As long as I confessed to killing them, the priests say that I was forgiven.
Decades past and with each death, I felt more of my soul deteriorate. Towards the end of the Reformation, I found myself wandering around London, where I somehow found another church. I stepped inside to confess, not having been in London before. I found the priest as he was baptizing a child, the family gathered around. I waited in the final pew for them to finish, before I approached the priest. “Father?”
“Yes, my child?”
“May I confess to you?”
“Yes.” He led me to a pew, instead of the confession box like I was used to.
“Father, I have sinned and I feel lost.”
“Sin tends to take our internal compass and send it awry. What has changed your North?”
“Father, I am a weapon used against vampires.” I waited for him to catch his breath and sign the cross over his heart.
“You are a murderer!” He whispered harshly.
I showed him my book, “But I am not, Father! I was told that these monsters needed to die in order to save humans!”
He shoved the book back to me, “Child, Satan has led you astray! You have killed innocent vampires and this book is the proof that you have sinned!” He stood up and stepped away from me.
“Please, Father! I do not understand!” I begged him to forgive me.
I watched the conflict behind his eyes, before he spoke. “What is your name?”
“I do not remember it; the last I heard it was when I was a child during the Black Death. But the other priests called me Cerbera, after a poisonous flower.”
“That will become your burden and curse, my child.” He grabbed me by the hand and led me to the baptizing pool. “I cannot forgive your sins of murder, but God can. Let me baptize you anew and start your life over. If you want to be truly forgiven, you need to take the number from your book and save that many. If you are the Cerbera as you state, then you cannot die, so it gives you the time you need to repent your sins. Do you accept the duty of your repentance?”
I looked at him confused. “Father, if I accept, then will you help me to become truly forgiven in God’s eyes?”
“Yes, my child, I will help you.” I climbed into the small pool, the water covering most of my body. He wrapped my hands across my chest and told me to hold my breath. He pushed me back into the water, allowing it to completely cover me, before he pulled me out. “You have washed your sins with baptism, but you have a life of repentance and work to find your way into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
He helped me out of the water, but had me sit on the side, while he brought me a towel to dry off with. He led me to the back of the church, where he explained I would be staying while he taught me everything he knew about how to save people for my atonement. He gave me a dress to change into, telling me to leave my clothes in the basin near the bed to dry. The dress was long, plain and covered almost every inch below my neck, except my hands.
He left me in the small room and I looked around, taking in my new home. It was a single bed with a wash basin, a chamber pot and a mirror above a chest of drawers with a candle on top. I changed into the dress and sat on the bed and opened my small book. Every page was filled, over 400 years of death between the two covers. I could not even begin to count how many vampires filled the pages; men, women and children of the Creatures of Darkness reflected back at me.
I laid down on the single bed and stared at the candle light flickering off of the stone ceiling. I drifted off to sleep, where for the first time in my life, I had nightmares of Hell. The next morning, the priest woke me up and started to teach me. He taught me how to read more than just names of places, how to write words associated with the readings, how to cook, clean, sew, and the most important to me, how to count. Each night, I counted the number of people in my book, trying to reach the end with the new numbers the priest gave me.
One day, a woman came into the church, begging for sanctuary. He let her in while I was sweeping the floors of the main church. She took a single look at me before she shot straight towards me. I yelled at her to not bite me, “I am poisonous! I will kill you if you bite me!” She was too strong for both the priest and myself to stop her from drinking from me. She had her fill and I tried to get the priest to help stop her death.
“Water!” He yelled to me as he ran out from the church. I grabbed the basin of water like he asked and I heard him come running back into the church. He threw herbs from the garden into the basin and I watched the clear water turn bright red. “Help me give it to her!” I turned to see the woman convulsing on the ground, as we took the water to her side. The priest helped ladle the blood-colored water into her mouth, which caused her to throat up much of the blood, but not enough to save her. The priest looked to me, “This is what you meant by killing them.”
I nodded, “I do not know how to stop them from drinking my blood. I attract them and I cannot figure out how to stop it.”
He looked to the vampire on the ground then to me, “Go to your room and pray for answers from God. I will take care of her last rites and pray myself. Hopefully, we can figure out how to save them.”
I did as I was told and went into my small room. I knelt against the bed, “God, if you are there, I ask that you hear my prayer. I do not want to harm anymore vampires, but I know that I am powerless without your Might. I beg of you to send a message to the priest or myself to stop this needless bloodshed and help me to earn your forgiveness.”
That night, I dreamed. An angel, much like the doll my mother had sewn for me centuries ago came to me. We sat on the edge of a large pool, our feet in the clear water. He pointed to the plants across from us, “God has heard your prayers and has asked me to answer them so you may be on the Path to Redemption. Your priest was correct in trying to get the poison from the woman in his way. That will help, as will the blue liquid that comes from the distillation of a Delphinium with alcohol.” He showed me the flower he was speaking of. “It will paralyze the vampire and prevent the poison from getting into their blood. The Delphinium solution has to be given directly into their bloodstream, so you will need a needle to deliver it.”
“Will I remember this when I wake up?” I asked the angel.
“Yes, and the priest is getting the same information through his prayers, so he can assist you. After you get them to ingest the red liquid and you introduce the blue to the vampire’s blood, you will need to cut open their arm to release the black blood that they got from you. You will kill some, but once you perfect your technique, you will save them. The ones that do die after you try to save them do not go into your book. Do you know how to give Last Rites?” I nodded, “Perfect, give it to the ones who die to send their soul to Heaven where God will help them find peace. Any other questions?”
The book appeared in my hands, “I cannot count high enough to know how many I need to save and the priest shudders when he sees this book. Would you be able to help me?”
The angel took the book and did not even open it. “You have 3300 names in here, child.” He handed it back to me and it vanished.
“Thank you for everything.”
He stood up, his wings helping him balance. “One final thing. When the ships go to the New World, go with them. God tells me that you will find the end of your curse there.”
I woke up and told the priest about my dream. He told me the same information was given to him and together, we worked for years figuring out the exact combination of ingredients. A decade after arriving to the church, we saved our first vampire. I opened my book to the final page and placed a single tally on the first line of the page, the first step towards my long path to Redemption.
The priest died and I continued my journey, keeping close to heart everything I learned. When the ships started to head to the New World, I joined on one. I found solace in the large forests on the coast and despite the skirmishes between the Natives and the English, I stayed out of trouble for the most part. There was a time when I was captured by the Natives, but it turned out well, when I finally learned their language. I helped them establish trade with the English and they allowed me to live away from the people I came from.
Another couple centuries past and I almost had the final page filled with tally marks of those who I was able to save, despite my warning of poison. I found new and better ways to stop the absorption of my poisonous blood and had it down to an almost exact science, improving the odds of those who attacked me by 98%. There were still a couple that died, even though I did all I could. I fulfilled my promise to the angel by giving the vampire their Last Rites and completing their journey to Heaven.
As time continued to pass, I found myself numerous jobs and quite a few times of where I came into a windfall of money. I learned over the centuries that I do not need to eat, drink or sleep, but I feel better when I am able to. I have also learned that I cannot die, as I have been burned at the stake for witchcraft, attempted to beheaded by an angry man who thought I killed his family, even suicide was outside my grasp. I had no purpose anymore and suicide had seemed to be my only way out. I finally stopped trying to find a way to die and set all of my focus on getting through my list, hoping that by finishing it, I would age and I would be set free from this life.