Deposed and defiant, the sisters long for revenge.
|Prompt: Write a story in which a vampire seeks vengeance against someone who's wronged her or him.
"How the mighty are fallen," said Sheba with a half-laugh that died away bitterly in the candlelight. "How far and how hard." She hugged her knees where she squatted on the dungeon floor and her shadow leapt and trembled over our sisters. Sheba was the most beautiful of us, dark-haired, red-lipped. But along with everything else I had lost today, my jealousy of her was gone. I was pitifully glad of her voice in the half-light, bitter though it was. It was vital in the chilly gloom. "To think we ate breakfast under a ceiling swarming with rococo cherubim," she went on. "And now we have rock over our heads and slime dripping down our necks."
"We'll be out soon," said Ottaline in the darkness. Lovely Ottaline. How brave she always was, how calm and hopeful. I could bear anything for myself but she was not meant to grovel in the ground like this. I buried my nails in my hand.
We had lit candles to stave off the dark. They were using up the air but that hardly mattered to us. We wanted them for the comforting glow, the subtle warmth they gave us. The dark was too terrible.
Through the candle haze I could see only the blanks of my sisters' faces, the dim glow of their white undergarments they wore ― for the mob had stripped the jewelled gowns from our shoulders before they threw us down here. I could not see my sisters' expressions. For the first time I was glad of my short-sightedness – just as I was glad for the first time of Sheba.
When the mighty fall, I thought, plucking at my lip with cold fingers, they fall far as meteors. They fall in fire and streaming ice. They obliterate and are themselves obliterated.
"We will find a way out," said Ottaline.
But none of us believed her.
Death was waiting for us. We had seen through the grate that looked onto the courtyard, our brothers dragged out into the wintry sunlight, burnt up in a holocaust so brilliant that smoke hardly disturbed the clean blue of the sky. The faces of the mob that had torn our happy life together to pieces were wild with unholy joy. I hated them for it. I had always been the bookish one of our marvellous, cloistered family, the do-nothing dreamer. I had haunted the vaulted library, had ruined my eyes reading of the world beyond our walls. I had longed for it. But now that that longed-for world had invaded our walls I burned for violent action as I had never done before. I wanted to smash these stupid, vicious peasants like a meteor, make them pay for my brothers' deaths, for my sisters' humiliations with their own.
One of the candles devoured its wick and snuffed out. I bit my finger to keep from screaming at fate.
My sisters saved me, as they had always saved me. Daphne, gentle, sweet-hearted Daphne, started to sing. She has a husky, imperfect voice, weak and bobbing as a wren but in the heavy darkness it was beautiful. The candlelight wavered as her breath caught the flame and I saw my sisters stir, draw themselves up a little straighter. Isabella joined in, even Sheba's rough, deep voice caught the tune. My own voice came alive within me. It felt separate from me, a living thing that moved in my breast of its own accord.
"Then thrice-three times tie up this true love's knot," we sang. "And murmur soft, 'She will or she will not. '"
Out of the dark my sisters on either side of me instinctively reached for my hands. Their palms were cold but warmth flowed through me at their touch.
Another candle guttered out as Celia sobbed out a note too close to the flame. Her voice dropped away as she struggled to control herself and then rejoined us, swelling the sweet, mournful sound.
"This cypress gathered at a dead man's grave, That all thy fears and cares an end may have."
We had sung this song at so many feasts in our great hall. Our family, so many brothers and sisters gathered from across the land, all singing in companionship above the laden table after a successful hunt, happy-eyed and grateful for our happiness. For a moment that happiness swept through me again.
Suddenly, as if we had conjured up some demon with our song, a red face appeared above us and a cool rush of air brushed our cheeks. We all gasped and for a moment terror surged through us.
"You shut up, you devils," spat the apparition. "I'll empty slops on your cursed heads if you don't." Our gaoler goggled at us through the trap door. He had a lantern by his side that gave his ugly face an evil, ruddy cast.
Ottaline squeezed my hand, kept her eyes fixed on his. "Then come, you Fairies!" she sang and we surged to sing with her. "Dance with me a round."
Our voices swelled, filled that stinking place with rebellious beauty. I felt hatred flowing through me and a fierce pride in my sisters. The ties of blood that bound us so surely, so gently to each other, seemed to throb with a dark pulse through the cold dungeon. I raised myself onto my knees. I would not slouch before this jumped-up farmhand. The gaoler's fingers gripped the edge of the hole, his head thrust in a few inches, his mouth slack and wet. "You shut your wicked mouths, you harlots," he said. His eyes flickered and blinked in the candlelight. "I know your wicked ways, your wiles."
"Melt her hard heart with your melodious sound!" Isabella's sweet harmonies swept round us. Another candle guttered and the red glow on the gaoler's face dimmed. He was head and shoulders in now, spittle spinning into a long line from his lip. His eyes were aflame. "You, you..." he began. Ottaline released my hand, stood up and touched her long white fingers to his cheek. A moment later he plunged among us, sprawled over our legs and breathing like a winded horse.
We tore at him in a blaze of fury. We ripped the stinking clothes from his body as our silks had been torn from ours. We put our mouths to his flesh and bit, sucked blood from him with no concern for the table manners we had observed with such formality when we had been mistresses of our own home. I felt the hot liquid splash against my cheek and was glad. I was smashing into his life as he had smashed into mine. I ripped at his shoulder, grated my teeth against the bones.
The last candle guttered out and we drank in the darkness.
It was a hollow victory. Once the man was dead and we had slaked our thirst, we rose to our feet and reached desperately for the trap door, which had fallen shut after the gaoler's fall. We scrambled onto each other's shoulders and shoved and heaved at the door. But it would not move.
With a desperate love I peered at the bleary forms of my sisters. And they all stood around crying, knowing this was the last time we would eat together, the last time we would share the sacred bond of blood.
The poem sung in this story is "Thrice toss these oaken ashes in the air" by Thomas Campion c.1617.