'But first, on earth as vampire sent,
Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent,
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race'.—LORD BYRON
I had always considered myself a virtuoso man of aesthetic art—ever since my birth in 1499, within the vetustuary city of Venice. Venice at that time was a glorious republic at war with the Great Ottoman Empire, for control of the vast seas of the circumference. I had as a young Venetian man envisaged in the arts, my absolute devotion to the superb expression of human creativity and imagination that was in the existential thoughts of an artist. I had strongly admired the exemplary Italian painters, such as Paolo Veronese, Leonardo da Vinci and Marco Marchetti, and I had painted a series of magnificent frescoes and altarpieces that I had attempted through my contact with Veronese to offer, as a token gift for an appreciation I had of a noble family of Venice.
My reputation soon grew and spread to European nobility, as I began to paint not only for prominent families of the republic, but for my admirers in Sardinia and Sicily also. I had known the aristocracy well, since I was a fortunate nobleman and had learnt the trade of a merchant. My plans were to succeed in the steps of those fabulous men aforementioned, and become a worthy and established painter, but my fate would suddenly change, and offer me a course that I never suspected.
I can recall so vividly how that consequential encounter with the master unfolded upon that spine-chilling night that enclosed me. The alderliefest art of the Renaissance had influenced Philosophy, Literature, Architecture, Theology, Science, and I had found these fundamental principles in the serendipitous presence of its sublimity. This sublimity would soon be replaced, with the incredible dimension of immortality that would discontinue my mortality afterwards.
It was during the epic Renaissance, when I had first met the venerable master in those Catalan streets of Barcelona that eerie and blear midnight of 1528 deliciating, whilst I felt the zephyr and his scent nearby. He was a mysterious and ubiquitous stranger that had followed me suddenly, to a solitary cul-de-sac. He was accompanied by a female companion, whose name was Sofia. She was immensely beautiful and exquisite, but very protean as the master. Never would I imagine that I would succumb to his powerful influence, and the beauty au naturel of that unique and special woman, who I fell in love with afterwards so easily.
I would be an immortal being that yearned to eradicate the long centurial nights of my looming quietus and umbrage, for the avatar of his freelage guidance always. For countless centuries I had served the master, as his obsequious servant and worthy confidant, enjoying the illimitable hours with him, from the memorable nights of the wonderful Renaissance appertained. It was the supreme culture and style of the inspiriting beauty of Gothic art and architecture developed, during the Renaissance that we both cherished and enjoyed stupendously. I was an aspiring artist and had been born with thespian talents, while he was a superlative master to be embraced with tremendous adulation infinitely.
That night I became the master's thrall and unconquerable guardant, and I am a mesonoxian immortal and authentic vampire, from the stately breed and eminence of the Gothic Demiurge, who once roamed the enchanted nights of interminable pleasure exuberantly. I am beholden to the splendid memory of his existence that strengthens my longevity, through the mercurial temperament that bounds me in the infinite mystery of my vampirism and immortality. Perhaps it is seen only as a peccant malison by the righteous naysayers, or it is seen as a finite blessing by the harum-scarum sycophants of humanity.
I clearly remember that ominous night, when he had converted me then; and who he was that the inquisitive mortals revered meritoriously in emulation, as he sat in his palatial throne of Erebus stoically. He the eponymous leader had commanded before the daring legions of Romans, and the entourage of indeterminate vampires who were born afterwards, from that perpetual and fierce blood and lineage that have spread forthwith, his noble and enviable seed to the world of the Homo sapiens as an endowment.
Throughout all these years he spoke, about the festive nights of yore with such intensity, and his aloof battles in Caledonia and Germania, where the Dionysian winds still blow his exemplary name. He was fond of the multifarious Roman atriums, castellums and latifundiums he had seen. Thus, I had served him with the utmost regard and incidence, till the master was killed by the nefarious Gastón, Duke of New Orleáns.
As for Sofia, she would vanish, and I saw her again nevermore—or so I had believed. I was not certain if she was dead also. I searched for her, from city to city, country to country, but I failed to locate her. In absentia of his cultivated veneer of refinement, I would read poetry in my plaintive and lyrical remembrance of her, and the memory of the recherché master that was revered by the concinnous troubadours of Medieval Europe who sung his praise. It has been centuries that the nocturnal master of human delirium perished.
My name is not important, but you should know verily that I was the entrusted confidant of a praeternatural being. You who should ever fear me will know me afterwards, as simply Monticello.
It was during the epic storming of the Bastille that occurred in Paris, France, on the afternoon of the 14th of July 1789 that I had encountered Gastón, the Duke of New Orleáns again. The cowardice culprit of the death of the master and it had been a long time ago, since I last saw the Duke of New Orleáns in person. The last time we had seen each other it was in the port of Oporto in Portugal in the year 1668.
I had been in Paris when the medieval fortress was attacked, by the frenzy mob gathered. The prison contained just seven inmates at the time, including one inmate a vampire, who I had known for years and was an old acquaintance of mine. I was able to save this acquaintance fortunately, as we had pretended to be prisoners.
But as I reached the dungeon below, I was received, by the Duke of New Orleáns himself, who had freed the notorious Marquis de Sade. A sudden chill and then rage entered in my body and mind, as we stared into each other's eyes. However, neither one of us had time to resurface our ancient rivalry, at least not upon this day.
'Monticello, how glad am I to see you once more. But I fancy that I must go now. I am afraid that the present circumstance prevents us, from renewing our hatred for each other. If you do not mind, we must be on our merry way. I shall dread the possibility of the sharp blade of the guillotine falling down upon, my aristocratic neck', he said.
'Gastón, as always, a pompous lout and a worthless craven. One day soon, I shall exact my revenge upon you, and it will be worser than the sharp blade of the dreadful guillotine', I responded.
He cringed for a moment, until he laughed with the Marquis de Sade beside him laughing too, as they then hastened, through one of the egresses of the Bastille. 'Why, for a moment I actually believed that'.
Time would transpire, before we saw each other again. Alack! I yearn today, for those fain days of yore to occur; and I recall the master's words that were invariably imbued, with a sense of calm and serenity expressed in great eloquence. I have seen the Plutonian visage of this endless darkness that accompanies the pallid vestige of my soul void, and the sempiternal nights of blood and the starkness that soon encompasses the physicality I cannot eschew. The pinnacle of innumerable centuries of selfish vanity had concealed years of my grievous condemnation of solitude. His death haunted me mightily, as he perished one dreadful dawn in Madrid. And the uncertain fate of Sofia had as well amandated me to a sorrow of the Lethe, whence my despair was created from this ghastly realisation.
I have wandered the evolved earth from city to city weary, and satisfying my orectic thirst every night hemerinely. I feed off the surfeit of blood that repulses me in cumpunction, when I search for my nepenthe to relieve vexation so unmerciful, within the obstreperous streets of humans I crave. I have mourned the charming scent of Sofia who I had adored in dilection, and her ethereal beauty forever that was lost and trapped in the tainted memories of my past. She recited the versification of the excellence of poetic grandeur many times, as if we were in the Athenian Lyceum together. I recall her elegance and quality in epistles and virelays I maintain.
Behold the puissant winds of the Pleaides, as I sensed a velocious movement of a presence, past the verge of the aphotic corridors of the lorn cloisters of the abbey at times, or in those bizarre nights alone in Victorian Europe. And I follow a tormented remnant of her indomitable soul to and fro in my lucidity, as I catch the clear glimpse of a luminary of the midnight moon, with my limpid eyes of luridness and redamancy. A thousand times I pondered her return, from a profound chambre of my secluded castle to liven my lugubrious pall.
I was accurst by the punctilious words of the detested inurn I vie invidiously, with the damnable and cadent echoes that startle in the dilatory morn. I live among the typhlotic iniquities and foibles of the mortals, and I have commanded those legions of soldiers and vampires of the master as victors. And within the ludibrious caprices of the foolish immortals that truckled to me, amidst the colossal wind of the night that suspires anon, we the vampires exist pertinaciously.
The world of Abaddon I reign, as the master of delirium upon my palatial throne of the Cimmerian netherworld inherited without interregnum. I wait for that one night to find my adorable enchantress among the living, so I can erase my tedium, and desire the tranquility and reward from the melancholic castle. In the vicissitudes of the old cities of Europe, I had dined with the reputable aristocrats and potentates of monarchies of luxuriance, and I had become famous and wined, with the autocrats of rising anarchies. I fancied the trove of the impressive castles, from the lands of eastern and western Europe, and witnessed the roaring cannons of magnificent battles of history. Evolution brought the new inventions of the rapid trains and audible phonographs. The olden castles became affluent mansions, as sensational paintings became vivid photographs. I am primordial as the winds of aeons and have met such geniuses of brilliancy as an argute chameleon. I have ridden upon the great armadas of stately galleons with the etesian winds, and the illecebrous women have bowed to my mere reverence.
Vagaries of epithymy came and went, with orphic dalliance and zetetic deference, as I roam the streets leaving my luculent scent. I live within the omphalos of a telluric Hades, behind the delitescent chambres of the damned invisibly, with the hoary ruins of the subterranean catacomb horrid and draconian. There where the dry moss of verdure and the pestiferous rats were manifest and existential. There you will find me, when the doors have closed completely.
I am Monticello, the heteroclite shade of surreal obscurity inverse, and the surreptitious omen of the vile cataclysm that covers quickly the diaphanous brume of nihilism. I have vacillated within the veritable imprecation of my eternity and the ominous voices of insanity and obfuscation, as the divination averse. It is a quantum of my anathema and vapid obsessions of virility. They are the dormant and unruly daemons of quondam transgressions and the surcease of my vicarious quandary. I exude within the parlous world of the venturous mortals, and haughty and tainted with their onerous conceit. They are the insidious malefactors of a useless and unbending humanity of vainglory.
When I thought I would never find my bygone maiden I did outside of the Apollo theatre in Madrid, as I was walking slowly upon the hardened cobblestones of the streets in the year of 1900. I had finished seeing a play, when a carriage had passed me by impigrously, and the sound of the hooves of horses I heard. Then I heard the haunting susurruses of the curious utterance of my name intrusively. And there at the corner of the dark lonesome street stood a transitory figure that I had sensed intuitively, through the moon so translucent.
Only the dead and Sofia knew my mortal name was Hugo. Her vestal smile revived the unforgotten memories of lubency, from the vernal days of grand verity of the vesper I enjoyed leisurely with her. At first I had tarried in my reaction, for I was not certain if the strange figure was a mere illusion. Thus, I called her name as I began to approach. But as I got closer, she had vanished from sight. Had I seen a brief glimpse of the eternal image of my dearest Sofia? Or was I going mad, and only wanted to believe this was happening? This had left me drowning in the wails of my continual nightmare.
The following night I had risen from my diurnal sleep, and sat in my lofty throne in the netherworld, pondering the meaning of what had occurred the prior night. Once more unwittingly I walked the clamorous streets of Madrid and went to the theatre for an opera. The theatre was what resuscitated my recollection of cherished moments al fresco, with the spirited night. Upon that night a lovely and unpretentious actress was performing.
Her name I did not know, but she was a young Andalusian woman from Córdoba. This much, I distinguished in her lovely accent. When I saw her, I knew she was the reincarnation of Sofia. Her inherent beauty had elicited the characteristic features of an angel vividly. Her long flowing sable hair of elegance and her large magnificent eyes, towered over the voluminous stage she stood upon. And distinctively I recalled every detail of her leggiadrous contours of titillations. At last, had I found there upon the stage of a theatre, the undeniable purity of Sofia unbosomed? I could not allay my anxiety and necessity to unravel this mysterious occurrence. The pressing urge to know if what I had suspected had been true was too unbearable for me to endure unconscionably.
Therefore, I waited outside for the young lady to depart the theatre. When she did, I approached her garbed in my ancient Gothic garments. I wore an arresting black velvet coat of the baroque style cropped with the hem of the coat, and a debonair collar, lapels and cuffs that included silver buttons and adornments. Under my coat I wore a Hemlock shirt covered in an elaborated brocade style design, and featured black lace cuffs with a black gem like buttons. On the front of the shirt was a detachable jabot which had black lace detailing, a black collar and an adjustable black gem style brooch. I had an ebony gold walking stick, and a fine black top hat that shadowed my extreme pallor. The pince-nez I wore allowed me to exude sophistication and facility, without pompousness.
She herself was dressed in a tight bodice with a decorative ruffled collar and narrow flare sleeves that expanded, which were tight at the lower arm, and puffed out at the upper arm. She wore a vintage Burgundy dress, with froths of white lace and a wide pink sash high around her corseted waist. Her hair was worn high on top of the head in tight curls, beneath a small hat that covered her head.
I introduced myself to the young actress, whose gracious guise commanded my heart and soul wielded. I was not certain, if she would think me too eccentric for her inclination. I had sensed whilst I stared into the depth of her ebullient eyes that were not glassy that she also had perceived an inexplicable attachment between us. When she told me her name was Sofia Damián, I knew it was her then.
My relentless endeavour had come to fruition, and in front of me standing was my darling, with her luminous eyes of splendour and allurement that had enraptured me throughout all these leaden centuries I had known before. Her mesmeric stare was engaging and potent, as her cheeks were suffused with an arresting colour.
'Lord Monticello, if I may indulge and say something candidly. Do you frequent the theatre much sir? You seem to me to be an unusual nobleman, and not jejune, as the other hautain men of Europe nowadays. However, I feel that I know you from somewhere or some place. At the moment, I cannot exactly recall. Have we met before sir?'
'I am afraid I am not a man renowned for his loquacity. Perhaps in Barcelona many years ago my lady'.
'Barcelona you say, I have been there many times before, while I was performing there. Yet, I cannot remember thoroughly of our encounter sir. You must forgive my lapse of memory'.
'There is no need to be specific my lady. What is important is that we have had this congenial encounter. I must go now, and I am certain you must be weary from your performance. I shall not entertain you with any mawkish sentiment'.
I kissed her hand and tipped my hat, as an amorevolous expression of my grateful cordiality. Her voice was similar to the voice of Sofia, and the dulcet tones of her speech reminded me of her harmonic voice as well. She spoke with such a pleasant cadence. I could not forget that it was her kindness that endeared me to her from the start. But it was her underlying smile that mostly had retained her redounding esprit so uniquely. It was an overriding sentiment of nostalgia I had noticed clearly, as I stood in front of her enraptured. Her gentle lips I yearned to kiss and touch gradually. The urge to taste her palpable lips was more compelling than drinking her blood. And as I left, she invited me to see her performance the following night. She got into her carriage and departed, and so did I. But before she left, she gave me a carnation that instinctively I gasped inside. It was identical to a carnation that I had presented to Sofia, more than three centuries ago in Rome.
The next night, I sat among the audience at the theatre in Madrid, as the velvet linings of the draperies were lifted. She appeared and started to sing. Her saintly voice serenaded my heart, as I reminisced the endearing nights in Rome at the theatre with plaudits. All I could think of was the devotion never antiquated we had for each other. It was incredible to believe that I had found my beloved Sofia. After she finished her performance once more, I waited for her outside where we spoke unperturbedly.
'I must commend you again, for such a beautiful natural voice you have my lady. It is an enduring pleasure to hear, your heavenly voice in person', I had complimented.
'How do I know that your favourites are the Tosca, Lohengrin and Carmen? What a strange coincidence is it not?' She revealed bemusedly.
I perceived the instant irony uttered, and was flabbergasted by this coincidence. It was, after all, the renditions of opera we most admired in our nights of privacy. 'They were our favourite pieces we enjoyed listening to attentively, as well we enjoyed the lively madrigals and villanelles'.
I then uttered the name of Sofia, and she uttered back the name of 'Hugo!'
I knew then that I had found, at last, Sofia, 'Sofia it is you. I have waited centuries for your return. When I hear you speak so plainly, I can hear such a beautiful euphony!'
It seemed that she had indeed reappeared, but she had lost her memory completely. The only thing known to her was that she too was an animate vampire.
For nights we traversed the busy darkled streets of Europe and the theatres, relishing the delightful Operas and noteworthy plays that entertained our fascination and humour. The castle and the catacomb were our impenetrable sanctuary within the morning, whilst the night was our garden of pleasure and feast in our moonlight trysts. She was the spry sylph of the nightly waft, and I was the gallant keeper of that labyrinth of exuberance. Together, we were indomitable and imperant. She was my passionate consort, and I was her committed guardian always.
It would seem that we would live on forever, within the world of our eternal union of extraordinary felicity. However, something peculiar and particular about her manifested that I was too blind to foresee and know. Apparently, she was dying of an incurable and horrid disease that was hereditary. Thenceforth my immediate thought was to save her, but I could not believe this was credible. Her direful contaminated blood was killing her gradually, and she reflected the urgency to seek a solution to her adversity. She would need my pure blood to survive more time. Even though it meant I would contaminate myself in the end.
Thus, I chose to save her and sacrifice my life if need be. What this meant as well was that she was not guaranteed life or much of it. Nonetheless, I made the conscious decision to save her from her disease.
That night I took her to the refuge of the catacomb of the castle, and bit her on the neck, with my pointed fangs that exuded my pallid face expressed so determinedly. But she allowed me to drink her blood and attempt to save her life. She fell on the ground next, and after a half-hour she rose from her momentary stupor and bewilderment. I had then taken her up the stairway that led on to one of the bedrooms of the castle above, where she rested until she finally awoke. When I found her, she was in one of the antechambres.
There above the fireplace was a portrait of her, from the 16th century. Her immaculate beauty had not altered one bit in all these years of uncertainty and absence. She stood staring at the portrait with a deep and continuous fixation, as she remembered the exact day and place the portrait was taken, including every detail.
For a moment I allowed her to ponder her inquisitive thoughts of memory, so that I could enjoy her mimmering divinity even more. I had recalled the days of yore in the castle with immediacy, when we spent many nights together, amidst the eloquent company of the master and ourselves. The years of solitude and nothingness in the castle had accompanied me without her presence.
'Da Vinci's Mona Lisa pales in comparison to your beauty my lady. You were once, a part of my soul, my breath, my world. Throughout all these centuries I have longed for you to see this portrait, and know this reverence of mine of you I have kept alive, since your departure my lady. The master would be extremely pleased, if he was here with us upon this night. The catacomb below is the slumber of my immortality, but the castle is the abode of my quintessence. Yet for so many forlorn years, the castle has been a prison of lost memories'.
'I clearly remember the day was Friday, and the setting was here in this antechambre of the castle. I remember how distinctively the portrait captured my refreshing smile and gaiety. I remember the master's words, as if it was yester', Sofia reminisced.
'Indeed, his memorable voice still haunts me presently. While we immortals are revered as gods, it is crestfallen to know that we are destined to lose those whose acquaintanceship will never be restored. But let us not contemplate much this thought, and let us live as gods or goddesses', I acknowledged.
For a whole year she lived vivaciously, and I did not die at all. We lived together among the serried mortals at night deliciating, and rode the neap tides of the sea endlessly it seemed. We had visited the great cities of Europe and mingled in the jaunty and deluxe soirées. She had continued to sing Opera in the theatres of Europe, and entertain the nobility of Europe as well in idyllic inscenations. This was her passion and I had acquiesced. She was my absolute treasure, and my days of joy were filled, by her presence.
I took her to see the graveyards and sepulchres of the deceased vampires I had shared acquaintance with, throughout my existence. But upon one gloomy night in Córdoba past the old Jewish quarter, a familiar foe had reappeared, from the distant past and the netherworld. Amidst the narrow cobblestones and darkness stood behind me deceptively, the duplicitous Gastón, Duke of New Orleáns.
'I see that you have found your love Sofia. Oh, ever the same you are Monticello, a diligent serf of the master, and serf of your brittle heart. I pity the fool that you have become', he mocked me.
His voice I could not forget or his extravagant guise. When I had turned around to confront him, he stood erect and dauntless. His long flowing locks of brown hair and his scarlet eyes of evil were manifest, as his devilish smirk. 'You the coward who betrayed your master treacherously, dares to lecture me. How long has it been Gastón? I thought you were dead and ashes by now'.
His presence had ignited a fiery blaze in my eyes that burned and stirred the maelstrom of wrath for vengeance. He sensed this in me, 'Oh ever the modest one who succumbs to his bravura to conceal a guilty timidity. I see that the ways of the master have not left you'.
I charged at him but two other vampires had attacked me at the same time. They prevented me, from reaching the Duke of New Orleáns. Sofia attempted to help me, but another vampire had grabbed a hold of her tightly. Somehow I was able to free myself from the vampires killing them, and rescue Sofia.
Gastón had then attacked me from behind. We struggled on the ground, until a carriage passed by, and he leapt on the back of the carriage. The driver was unaware of his presence. He stared into my eyes and laughed, as he escaped my wrath. I had thought of following him, but suddenly I remembered Sofia. When I reached her she was coughing and she fell on the ground choking in debility afterwards. Although she was not bitten, her strength was fading by the minute. I tried to save her, but she was slowly dying again.
It was to serve as a monitory presage to hark and to accept. She survived the rest of the night thankfully.
Nevertheless, she was dying, and there was truly absolutely nothing I could do to prevent her inevitable death. She lived another week, but she was weaker than before, and resembled a gaunt and spectral corpse. There was one request she implored, and that was to see the lethal sunrise anew. That meant instant death for a vampire, but I acquiesced, and did what she requested.
Consequently, I left her in the picturesque courtyard of the orange grove, by the old cathedral she grew up cherishing as a young girl upon one night. I put her body nearby the thick orange trees that would shelter her congenial guise. Her last words expressed to me were the following.
'Hugo, I shall live forever, as long as you love me truly and remember my essence afterwards. I do not blame you for my death. Now kiss me instead, and hold me tight one last time and leave me to see the beautiful sun afresh, and remember the aubades'.
That was the last time I saw Sofia alive and her spirit, as I bade her adieu. I hid amidst the colonnades of the cathedral, and I witnessed her irrevocable demise, as within me I felt a slow beating of the heart. I had adhered to her supplicant words. Her lively face of before was extremely gaunt, and her long flowing straight black hair had turned gray, as the sun shone upon her face an apricity. A tear poured out of her eyes, whilst they poured from my eyes too. Her lips of luridness had become carmine at variance, as they dried.
Soon, she was nothing more than a stiff corpse that became flecks of dust that the wind took suddenly. I never forgot Sofia, and every time I visited Córdoba, I visited her grave through the mulch and mucilage that I traversed moonstruck. I would leave a lone carnation upon her headstone in the local graveyard. At times I sense her presence, with the stir of the nightly wind that accompanies my unwanted solitude. I am primordial as the supreme immortals evoked, by the quixotic mortals that have ever immortalised me, with their bedoven blood.
My name is Monticello, a name odd and too sesquipedalian. I am the benefactor of the astray of this quotidian brimstone. Rome, Paris, Madrid, London, Berlin, Oporto, Athens, Moscow, utter my name Monticello.
Distinctive tales of vampires have filled the books of lore, with a variable fascination to know the truth. Ergo, shall we not be disingenuous in our admission, when we are aware of the possibilities of the actual existence of vampires in this world of ours?
Thus, shall we endeavour to contemplate such an unthinkable dread that augments our heightened anxiety, simply because, we are fearful of the unknown horrors that lurk, behind the darkness or the glaring lamplight?
I do not profess to be a meticulous erudite of this matter, but I did not asseverate my tale to the absolute fancies of those disbelievers of whom I only vouchsafed the relevant elements of this tale. You, who know what lurks behind the lamplight, surely are acquainted, with the nocturnal beasts of ostent that quench their ferocious thirst within the utmost expediency known.