by Sammie Ham
This is introducing Moira and Evelyn, the main characters of my newest novella
Bitter Memories of Home
The morning light crept into the window slowly, as if it had any decency to not want to wake me. I slowly extended my porcelain hand, my long crimson nails reaching for the beams. At first the burn was more than I could handle, but another part of me took control. This part of me wanted to feel the warm embrace of the sun once more.
Against my better thought, I pulled my hand back, nursing the wound that I knew would eventually fade. I slowly slipped the onyx see through robe off my curvy, yet slender frame. While most of the night feeders decided to sleep nude under the loose soil out beyond the house, I decided that at over thousand years old, I was a lady of a higher caliber.
I slid beneath the comforter in my canopy bed before releasing the Clarkeout curtains to shield me in my slumber. Sleep did not find me easily as I lay in my bed, thinking of home. But as soon as I had begun to sleep, my darkest memory of home rushed over me.
It had been well close to seventeen hundred years since I had seen Mulkerry Manor, on the Isle of Mulkerry. It was the year 1345, my father Lord Mulkerry was away in battle. As I lay in my bed that dark, December night I listened to the cracking and popping of the fight from the main island. Somehow, our fortress stood strong as our homeland fell just beyond the pond. I had slowly begun to slip into a deep sleep when a scream rang through the dark. I sat straight up in my bed, clutching the blanket of wolf skin to myself.
“Mum,” I called out. Only my voice echoed back to me.
I slowly got out of bed, grabbing my robe and surrounding my body with it. At merely sixteen years old, I was an old maid of my time. Many girls much younger than myself had already married lords of their own, and they had already bore them heirs. But I was different. I was always sickly, and while often times my beauty was compared to that of my mother, no man wanted such a burden. I clung to the walls as I made my way out of the room.
“Mother,” I called out, “please let me know you are alright!”
My feet barely carried me across the frigid, stone floor to the stairs. I stopped as another blood curdling scream, this time that of a younger man, no doubt one of our stable boys, rang out. My heart began to race and my head began to spin as I tried to make my own way back to my room. I passed the first room next to mine and a hand shot out grabbing me. I fell to the ground screaming, clutching my chest, hoping to calm my weakened heart.
I looked upon the bloody face of Julianne, my mother’s bed maiden.
“Young lady Mulkerry,” she gasped. “Please, don’t let them find you. I tried to save your mother. There was so much blood!” She let out a soul chilling scream as she was pulled back into the deep darkness of her room. Her screams ripped through the air for only a few minutes more.
I scrambled to get up as the pain in my chest became more than I could bear. My world began to spin as I made my way to the stairs. Before I knew what was happening, my feet failed to carry me. I fell down the stairs, landing on my stomach, winded and unable to move.
“Oh the fire in you child,” a man’s voice came from on top of me. “You are much like your mother aren’t you?”
“N-no,” I began to panic, my young sickened heart racing at a dangerous speed. “Please don’t hurt me! You can have anything you want!”
“Oh my dear young Lady Mulkerry,” he laughed in my ear, “I intend to have what I want!”
Just then a searing pain came over my body as he dug his teeth into my collarbone. I screamed for only a moment, but soon, I was too weak to even breathe.
“Bastien! That is enough! You will not kill the child!” There was another voice in the room.
“Mother,” he hissed at the woman. “She is mine!”
“Bastien, if you defy me, you will meet a sure death. Do not try me! I said you are not to kill the child!”
He growled and dropped my head to the ground where I lay, surely dying.
“You must forgive my overzealous son, my dear.” She carefully rolled me over, cradling my head into her lap.
I began to gasp for air. “I’m dying.”
“Sh-sh, none of that now,” she comforted me, pushing my hair from my face. “You will stay with me, my precious Moira. I have big plans for you,” she whispered into my ear.
“Moira,” Bastien’s voice interrupted my slumber.
My cold silver eyes flew open, staring at my dirtied- for lack of better word- brother. “Can you not even clean yourself, maybe dress yourself before disturbing my slumber?”
He looked over himself momentarily. “Well princess,” there was deep venom in his voice, “Mother calls for you.”
“She is your mother, not mine,” I said flatly, removing the comforter from my body.
His eyes ran over me, taking in the sights of my form fitting raven nightgown.
“Do you realize how disgusting it is that you insinuate that I am your sister, yet you look me over like that?”
He snarled and spun to leave the room. “You will do good to obey, Mother!”
I snorted and laughed. “Bastien, you would lick her ass if you thought that it would get you closer to ruling the night!”
Bastien angrily left my room, slamming my door. I laughed to myself before going to my closet. I pulled on my under garments before settling on a white button-up dress shirt and a pair of form fitting Clarke dress pants. After slipping my feet into a pair of shiny Clarke high heels, an invention I took quite some time to get behind, I made my way to my vanity.
Despite popular belief, night feeders had a reflection. Persephone, the one most called mother, often told us that it was God’s cruel joke to let us see our faces, to live deeper in our shame. It was to remind us every day as to what we were. Even with this, I still held my head high, proud of my bloodline and where I came from.
“Pride, daughter, is just as much a sin,” Persephone’s voice came from behind me.
I looked up at her reflection in the mirror, “No one asked you to be in my mind.”
“You Scots,” she sighed. She made her way behind me, almost floating. She grabbed my brush from my vanity and began running it through my raven cascading curls. “You are all so defensive.”
I said nothing, but stewed in my anger. I was not daft, I knew she saved me from a slow agonizing death, but despite that, she also slaughtered most everyone I loved. The only person spared was my father. But the war and infection took him not too long after the rest of my family was gone.
“We are due to go back, it might do you some good to go back. Who knows,” her silky, ancient voice caressed my senses, “maybe you can get back your home. Be rid of the rest of us.”
“I’m not ungrateful,” I raised my face to stare her in the eyes. I could see it pained her that I had such hate for our kind. “I am not stupid enough to think that I would have lived much longer in that life. I am happy that I got a chance at a real life.”
She smiled sadly, as she began to pin my hair back in place. When she finished most my curls were piled beautifully on my head, the rest hung loosely down my back. “I do have my regrets. I am over three thousand years old; I have made my mistakes too, child.” She stepped back, her crimson robe cascading around her. “You are the sign of perfection,” she smiled at me. “We head out for Mulkerry tonight; if you desire to go with, you are welcome.” And with that, she vacated my room.
A Passion for History
“Mulkerry Manor,” I said, turning to look at the tourists, “was the most beautiful isle back in its hayday. It was the wedding gift from Cedric Mulkerry to his beloved wife Alisabeth. Here they bore twelve babes, three of which died only moments after birth. Any baby born during winters were especially doomed. Their oldest daughter, Cordelia, was married off at a mere thirteen years old. She bore her first baby a year later, and in childbirth, Cordelia as well as the infant were lost. Five of their sons: Bertrum, Alistair, Nicholas, Callum and Duncan were lost in various battles. Two of their sons: William and Brody were sent off when the wars began in the mainland. They went on to live full long lives in Egypt where they both married Egyptian woman who bore them many children.”
We moved along the hallway stopping momentarily at each portrait of their surviving children so the tourists could have faces with their names. Finally, we made it to the portrait of the child with the saddest fate of all. I stared up at her portrait, my heart breaking for her.
“Their youngest, most frail child, a daughter with heart disease, Moira.” I took in her porcelain skin and cascading raven curls. “She had the darkest fate of all. On the night of December 9, 1345, Moira’s mother wrote that she had put her daughter to bed. She worried for her daughter’s delicate position as she slept. The diary entry was interrupted only moments into the beautiful scrawling about the sixteen year old’s delicate nature. It was believed that it was because some stragglers from the war had found Mulkerry. They busted in, slaughtering all 189 servants and handmaidens, Lady Mulkerry and the young Moira herself. Moira’s body was never found, but there was blood all over the nightgown that had been hers.”
Chills ran down my spine as I recalled the story I had been telling for the last year. The guests all gasped before we all moved on. I looked back at the solemn painting of the beautiful Mulkerry girl one last time.
“Thank you for coming,” I called out shutting the door behind the last tourist. I leaned on the door, pushing my hair from my face.
“Evelyn,” a voice came from the dark room beside me.
“Oh! Mr. Dubrante!” I straightened up as the aging man came out of the dark.
“You so loving tell young Moira’s story.” He noted going over to the family portrait rubbing the frame lightly. “You really were a great choice.”
“I believe she- they all- deserved to be so fondly remembered.” I said, staring at her portrait down the hall.
“Miss Clarke, I do not romance my family’s bloodline. My very great down the line grandfather was a barbaric man who when his family needed him the most, was not around. My great- well down the line of great- aunt Moira was left all alone. She had no chance in the world.”
“It was not uncommon for the men of the house to leave the women to fend on their own while they were away in battle, sir. With all due respect, your ancestor was a great man. He loved his family very much.” I grew angry over his accusations toward Cedric.
“This is why I hired you,” he laughed, “your love and devotion to your work. Please make sure you lock the door as you leave.
“Yes sir,” I said quietly as I grabbed my purse from the closet by the door before exiting the building. I locked the door and turned to leave. There was a woman standing behind me. I let out a small scream and hit the side wall.
“I’m sorry,” she said with a thick Scottish brogue, “I didn’t mean to startle you. Is the tour over?”
“Y-yes,” I said gathering myself. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t place where. “I’m sorry. There will be another tomorrow.”
“I always seem to miss it,” she gave a small laugh. “I’m Claire. Claire Muldoon.” She extended her hand to me.
“Evelyn Clarke,” I smiled, shaking her hand lightly.
“It’s nice to meet you, Miss Clarke. Could you possibly tell me when the tour is available again?” The woman looked the castle over. There was something of love, pain and missing in her eyes.
“Uh, tomorrow actually. There is at least four a day. I lead them myself,” I smiled at her. I reached in my messenger bag, grabbing a brochure for her.
She looked over it briefly before tucking it into her pocket. “Thank you, Miss Clarke. Well tomorrow it is then.” She made her way into the dark.