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The Beast Within


Blackguard
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Her uncle had been bedridden these last few days. "Uncle Anatole, you must allow me to send for a physician," Anna scolded as she sat by his bedside with a worried look. Her uncle had been known to fall into periodic bouts with strange behavior and then illness. Things were getting worse.

 

"No," came the answer from the man that was her uncle, both being visitors to England. "No physician can heal me," he murmured. His gaze shifted to the bedside table that displayed an array of potions of his concoction.

 

"It is a curse that I must fight on my own," he elaborated as he often did. "A priest then," she suggested. "Priests know nothing of the supernatural Anna. How many times do I have to tell you?"

 

"This beast you hunt ..." she began timidly, not knowing what to think, "can you not forget him and return to court? Can we not go back to the home country?" She knew the answer already. Her uncle was consumed by this one passion. All thought of money and fame was cast aside so that he might pursue this destructive course.

 

"We must follow the beast," he explained for the dozenth time. "I have read it in the cards. He is my burden to bear. It is my destiny to slay him in the end. It must be me. No other can do it. Our fates our intertwined. If we returned to Hungary, he would surely follow. Then he would kill the ones we love. Best to follow his lead to far away places where he kills strangers."

 

"But, Uncle, it is dangerous for you. He might slay you instead. It is as if he is taunting you to follow but never allowing you to capture him. You must stop before it is too late." Notwithstanding her uncle's aversion to religion, she fingered the silver cross at her neck. Ironically, it had been a gift from her uncle.

 

The girl was wiser than she knew and Count Forensi did not know whether to rue it or accept it with pride. "It will end soon," he whispered. " I feel it. With each passing month I know the creature better. I can begin to think like it and, in knowing so, can plot to capture it," he explained patiently. She was right about the taunting, but he dare not confirm it. He could hear its laughter in his head. It beckoned him into the night, daring him to try and slay it. It was too strong for him or any normal man; but, the Count had brewed a potion that gave him abnormal strength so that he could meet the vampire in an even match. Sadly, the potion was disagreeing with him more and more, making him more ill after each dose. It was affecting his mind as well, allowing the beast to work its poison upon him. The sands of time were running its course and there was no one able to help him.

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