Three years after that fateful night when Vlad literally walked into Sonja's life, they had settled into what could be described as a typical domestic life. Sonja oversaw the day-to-day duties of the house; in actuality it was a small castle by standard castle definitions, but a castle none the less. Sonja wasn't quite certain what it was that Vlad did when he left the house every day or so, but everything around the house seemed to flow correctly and they were never wanting for food or money. Vlad worked long odd hours, mainly at night. Often he would return at the early twilight hours only to change his clothes and to head back out quickly. At times he seemed to appear from nowhere at the castle when she least expected it. Through his odd behavior, Vlad was always the most perfect gentleman. Even when things seemed to not go the way that they were planned, he seldom showed an extreme amount of emotion. Honestly the house ran itself; apparently the staff had been with Vlad for several years. The staff seemed to know what to do before either Sonja or Vlad asked for anything at all.
While Sonja spent her time trying to add her own touch and flare to the life that they had settled into, she wasn't entirely certain that their future together would become. In three years she still slept alone at night; while it was true that Vlad was an amazing romantic, their relationship seemed perpetually stalled. Never really moving forward, she was happy to a point, but she began to find herself hungering for something more. Not just from Vlad himself, but also from those around her as well. It was something that she could not easily describe to any one -- not even herself. All she knew was that she was becoming weary of sleeping alone at night without any prospect of a deeper relationship with the man that she knew beyond a shadow of doubt that she was madly in love with.
During this time, while Sonja was attempting to get a grasp on her new life, (a life that she could not remember ever beginning, a life in fact she could not remember existing prior to Vlad walking through the fog towards her) a series of brutal slayings was sending the villagers near the forest where they had first met into a deep panic. Livestock had been slaughtered in the fields surrounding the village.
Looking into the slayings of various livestock and wild life that had been left half-eaten near the small trails, a family stumbled across a young man, barely twenty-one years old. The young man was covered in mud and blood, looking as if he had in fact survived one of the mysterious attacks himself, yet no wounds could be found upon him. He was unable to speak any understandable language, relying simply on grunts, groans, and what could only be described as dog-like whining sounds, and when he would become ultimately frustrated, he would point and grab what he was attempting to convey. He attempted to communicate with the villagers. His sky grey eyes looked as if they held an untapped intellect; but his failure to speak frustrated the boy as well as the families.
While the village struggled to help the youth, Edvard struggled to completely understand what was transpiring with his new life. Having only been, for a lack of better words, "awakened," he was attempting to make his way through what would be later in time called the process of grieving. Grieving for his friends and family members and his village, he was tring to take it all in. Everything these people were showing him and telling him ran directly opposite to what he had believed his entire life. Yet here he was, living out a nightmare that he knew he would never be able to awaken from. Edvard grappled mentally with the images that he had seen: the complete annihilation of everyone and everything he had ever known. Edvard had to learn a lot of things fairly quickly, but the most painful of which would be to learn how to deal with the loss that he would always feel. How he would forevermore see those he cared the utmost about being destroyed in such horrifying ways.
Edvard looked at his bleak surroundings. The heat was stifling, almost suffocating him; it was a feeling he had never before known in his life. He longed for the snow-capped mountains that would always be his home. He had settled into what Animal had called Edvard's room -- his "home away from home" is what Animal had said. To say it was bleak would be an understatement. Along one side of the wall sat what Edvard would have described as a box. In fact it was a sarcophagus, with Edvard's effigy painstakingly carved into the sandstone lid. The detail was incredible, down to the most miniscule detail of the hilt of his sword with its helix over-lacing the shark skin. Edvard's effigy's face was hidden from direct view, though, due to his helmet being placed over its visage.
Edvard had been appalled at the contents of the box when he had peered into it for the first time. The container was half-filled with sand that appeared to contain some type of insect life, for it seemed to undulate back upon itself. It had taken him so long to decide to look into the odd thing that there wasn't anyone around to ask once he had worked up his nerve to look inside, and nothing that Edvard had ever encountered could prepare him for the smell that came from the diabolical box when he did finally open it. The aroma that wafted up to his nostrils reminded him of a battlefield full of dead bodies left out in the summer day's sun for several days.
Along a second wall in the room sat a simple wooden desk and chair that were unremarkable. Several torches hung from stone placements that had been carved into the walls. Again a thick greasy black smoke rose from the flames, which were giving off ample light, but appeared to never consume the fuel beneath them. The room was completely silent accept for Edvard's continued labored breathing. He sat, head hung low, with his elbows placed on his knees, trying to replay the events that had lead him to this position in life, and not coming up with any answers that satisfied his mind, heart, or soul. Perhaps, just perhaps, this was all simply one long really bad dream.
"It is time my young friend." It was the voice of the child from the forest, effectively snapping Edvard out of his somber mood. He looked around and saw the door to his room slowly swing open.
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