CHAPTER 2.10 - LADY CROSSTENMARCH AWAKENS

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CHAPTER 2.10 - LADY CROSSTENMARCH AWAKENS

Post  Admin on Sat Jan 17, 2009 9:30 pm

Wulfram is summoned early, on the misty morning of the following day, to Lord Crosstenmarch's manor for breakfast. Young Isolde Gerhadt (14) delivered the message to his door. He finds some finer clothes in the wardrobe of his cottage, washes and dresses appropriately for the occasion.

On reaching the manor, Wulfram is greeted by the tall manservant and ushered to the dining room where the crystal chandalier glistens as shafts of sunlight stream through the stained glass windows into the massive room. He finds Lord Viktor Crosstenmarch and his wife, Viktoria, are both already seated at the table and on his arrival they greet him warmly.

"Sit, Wulfram, join us," Lord Crosstenmarch gestures for him to be seated. "My lovely wife is well again and we should admire her beautiful quality. She has heard of your arival and wishes to speak with you."

Viktoria looks healthy, though of pale complexion and she has a delicate quality about her. She is wearing bracelet that Wulfram obtained from the Ironstone Caven (after defeating "Painbringer's" cyclops minions). The manservant serves wine, fruits, bread, cheese and cooked vension to the table and the three enjoy a good meal. As they eat, Viktor and Wulfram undertake light discussion about Rosenrot and it appears that Lord Crosstenmarch was aware of the ruined village but unaware of its true name.

They remain at the table after eating and engage in deeper conversation. "It is good to see Viktoria is so much better," Viktor remarks, and he is content to let Viktoria do most of the talking as she appears fascinated by Wulfram. As they ate, Wulfram sensed she was studying him. A little suspicious about the Crosstenmarchs and their relationship, Wulfram notes to himself that will speak to the other villagers to learn more about them.

"We are similar," Viktoria muses, "for you see Wulfram, each of us has been afflicted with a new nature and those who observe the true form of what we have become would rightly call us monsters."

Wulfram is unsure of why she would say this and so she tells him. "You are of wolf-kind and I have been afflicted with the curse of vampirism. But our hearts are good and our minds tell us the right path to follow. There may be times when our judgement becomes ... fragile ... but under such circumstances I am sure that our peers will be understanding."

Wulfram wonders how a person with vampirism could be awake and moving during the day in a room where sunlight reaches in. Then he realises that it's not full daylight, that in fact it is filtered by the patterns of the stained glass windows and the heavy drapes that surround them. Not only this but the light outside is not as bright as it could be, owing to the heavy mist and gloom of the day outside.

"How did you come to be afflicted?" Wulfram asks.

"I was kidnapped near the fringes of the Darkenwilde when I was in the company of Gunthar and Jurgen Arranbergh. I am unsure how this happened, though I do recall being overcome by drowsiness. When I awakened I was in the loathsome company of Dominik Madenstadt and he cursed me with his dark ritual of seduction to make me what I have become."

Wulfram is sure she is being truthful.

"The Aranberghs found me the following day, unconscious in the forest. They returned me to Viktor who recognised my illness and confined me for my own well-being, while telling the people only that I was unwell. Viktor tells me that your arrival in Haastenmoord has given me a second chance, that in answer to his prayers you were able to retrieve the jarisite bracelet to revent the worst of what I could become. In placing it upon me and administering his own ritual, Viktor has ensured I will not fall under the control of Madenstadt's dark powers."

Wulfram senses there is something concealed within her nature and he thinks there is something more in her demeanour than she reveals when he observes her eyes are upon him. He notes clearly that Viktoria does not exhibit any signs of menance nor evil.

"Then the bracelet protects you, is that its function?" Wulfram asks.

"I do not know how," Viktoria confides, "but it sustains me. It prevents my urge for blood-lust as that is the craving of my affliction. Prior to obtaining this, Viktor knew what I needed. And he was able to provide that by hunting and providing me with small forest animals. I drank their blood, while they were still warm and that, on reflection, was most unpleasant."

Wulfram nods, understanding. "I am also protected from my own curse. The Aranberghs helped me obtain a supply of the wolvenwort herb that grows in the wild, beyond the dam and one of the ancient ruined towers."

Viktoria nods in agreement, and says "the Aranabergh brothers are very skilled foresters. They often help me retrieve the necessary herbs for my remedies and potions."

"Are you free of Madenstadt's influence now my Lady?" Wulfram asks.

"I think you know well enough Wulfram that, given opportunity, Madenstadt can still control me. The bracelet protects me while it is worn, much as the wolvenwort protects you from changing when it is consumed. I'm controlled and you are controlled. We are cursed."

Viktor simply watches the conversation quietly, unconcerned.

Wulfram is curious and asks "Are you a Day Walker?"

"No," Viktoria responds, "but I have heard the name before."

"How?"

"My husband -"

Viktor coughs and interrupts politely, looking at Viktoria briefly to address Wulfram "- forgive me. I only know of the name Day Walker from my studies. It is simply a name with no further reference, although the notation I recall did say it is a name of importance. But I am sorry, I do not know why. Please continue ..."

"I was referred to as that before I came here," Wulfram tells him.

"Who by?" Viktoria asks him, intrigued.

"Reisen Morgus -" Wulfram says.

The Crosstenmarchs both gasp at the mention of that name and Viktor makes the sign of his faith over his heart.

"- you must not speak his name." Viktoria tells him. "We know him as the Harvester and he is unwelcome, unwanted in this domain."

"I am sorry," Wulfram says. "I did not know it would cause alarm."

"And the Harvester called you Day Walker?" Viktoria asks him.

"He did."

"Then your name has significance, Wulfram, and perhaps Viktor will be able to uncover more about that from his studies."

The three then continue with some brief light-hearted conversation before Lord Crosstenmarch stands and announces he will be retiring to the study. "Wulfram, will you join me?"

"Of course," Wulfram replies, "I would like that." Wulfram observes that Viktor looks quite pointedly at his wife, who remains smiling, as he asks this question. A look perhaps that was not necessarily supposed to appear so obvious. Wulfram considers that perhaps there is a degree of tension between the two in their relationship.

As Viktor and Wulfram move towards the study, Lady Viktoria rises and moves to exit through another door that Wulfram has never been through. A though she senses Wulfram watches her departure, she pauses and turns to call out to him and asks "will you meet with me another time, to continue our interesting conversations? There is more I wish to know about you and your arrival in our village."


"Of course, my Lady." Wulfram replies. "That would be nice."

Lord Crosstenmarch continues walking through the open door into the study, saying nothing, and with the manservant already clearing the table, Wulfram follows.
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