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The Scion Of The Volkolak
The Scion Of The Volkolak

The Scion Of The Volkolak

Franc68Lorient Montaner

'There are such beings as vampires, some of us have evidence that they exist. Even had we not the proof of our own unhappy experience, the teachings and the records of the past give proof enough for sane peoples'.—Bram Stoker

I had always considered my traits meritorious as a man of reason, and a disbeliever of the primitive superstition and folklore. One day in the year 1916 it would all change surreptitiously, when I had first arrived as a stranger to a remote village of the Vitebsk Region of Belarus, in the northern part of the country that was bordering Russia on the east and Lithuania on the west.

I had been travelling south, by train through the solitary singularity of the narrow tract of countryside of the region, when the train had reached the course of its destination. I could vaguely see the lofty castle on the towering height of the cliffs, above the dim and cold moisture of the bog, beyond the adjacent stream.

Thither, where the migratory birds flee the achromatic gloom of the mist as they fly outwardly, within all the unique and prolific signs of autumn. I was familiar about the picturesque landscapes of Europe that I had read, but I had not seen such a landlocked area before in person. My inducement to this region was not of my choice—for I was a loyal soldier of the Russian Empire, by the name of Alexander Drugov who had been sent by the army of the Czar to quell, a recent insurrection that was surmounting.

After a week, I was in the extensive forest with my active regiment, when we were patrolling the area, for any Belarusian rebels. For most of the time we had the rebels in retreat, and the small skirmishes were nothing of extreme severity. It had appeared that we would not be staying much in the area, and this was a favourable boon for us the soldiers.

We had started to encounter stiff resistance, but it was not from the spirited insurgents. The villagers it was said had invoked a teramorphous being to save them from the Russians. The rumour of this being had begun to frighten our soldiers. Within the forest, it had attacked and murdered bestially. With its stealthy motion and sharp claws, it had sliced into pieces the reactive soldiers. The creature had decapitated their heads and took them as prized trophies. This was an enemy we had never before faced in the battlefield, nor in other quondam battles.

One day as I was in the encampment, I saw the shredded remains of Russian soldiers, who had been killed or severely wounded. This image was not pleasant to bear, or to accept so easily as a Russian soldier. I had known various comrades well since the academy, and I thought of their families in Russia. Unfortunately, this was intrinsic to the life of an average soldier.

Shortly, we headed into the woods with more regiments. We were ambushed then, by what we thought at first were local peasants aligned with the insurrection, but the force that had attacked us was swift and lethiferous, as the daemon that the locals had evoked with a presage. There were no bullets heard, or the sound of the elusive foe. All that I could hear was the vociferous clamour of the soldiers who fell, and I had my rifle with me. I was lucky to be able to escape unharmed.

I did not know what had attacked, because it was not human I felt. Two of the soldiers, who were close to me, were badly mauled. I did not want to abandon them at the mercy of the unidentified killer, but I had to find necessary assistance. I was lost then and had strayed, from the course of my regiment and the train station by the village also. The thick fog was to be blamed, for my errant misguidance, along with the evident threat of being killed. The ominous fog would soon bring the pouring rain.

Thereafter, I had attempted to find the first place of refuge, since a storm was forming, from beyond the ridge. My vision was impeded for the most part, until I had reached the only road that was near, and available for travelling. Along the way, I had stumbled on the ground, and when I rose I was met, by an old Gypsy woman driving a caravan alone. She had startled me, and I was not certain what to do next. I had my rifle pointed at her, but she did not appear to be hostile in her comportment.

I had learnt enough Belarusian, through a former Kossack prisoner in Azerbaijan. Although she did not seem to be minacious in her appearance, I was not going to underestimate the cunning deception of the enemy, since I was inside their territory. I asked her then, where she was going, and her response was, she was heading towards the centre of the village. I had found myself on the outskirts of the village. The thought of her taking me to the encampment for help had entered my mind immediately, but that good possibility was quickly discarded, by the fact that she had seen rebel soldiers coming.

I had heard of the captured Russians, who spoke much of torture at the hands of the Belarusians, and it would not be propitious for me to go with her afterwards, having that awareness. I had explained that several soldiers of my regiment, who were accompanying me, were dying of their wounds in the forest. I had confessed to her that I did not see the attacker clearly, since whatever it was fled in a fleet and incredible motion. That description though vague in nature was sufficient for her to give me a stern premonition.

'The men are dead and will become its slaves. The creature is everywhere', she told me.

When I had enquired about the creature, she called it simply, a 'volkolak'.

A volkolak she had dared to utter, with a bold assertion. The name was somewhat known to me through folklorish tales as an infant, but I was not entirely prevalent to the actual meaning of this connotation. When I had asked her for the definition of a volkolak, she said with an affirmation that left me pondering. From what I understood of her words was that the volkolak was an immortal vampiric creature, who had sucked the blood of mortals. Her insinuation of a vampire was totally absurd I had surmised. The notion of a vampire being the culprit was unfathomable to me, but I saw honesty in her eyes.

I had mentioned the solitary castle I saw upon my arrival, and the eyes of the Gypsy woman grew with vehemence. She had warned me not to go to the castle that it was the terrible lair of the Devil. Once more she had reiterated this foolish claim, but I did not have much time to heed to her whimsical legend. I had the immediate concern of saving the lives of my comrades, who I was not certain were still alive.

The caravan had then continued forth upon the road and its course. When I returned to the soldiers, the storm had replaced the dense fog that abounded. Once there, the fallen men were gone—they had vanished. Where were they, and were they still alive? There were no visible signs of their presence, and the rain clearly would erase any visual vestige of them, except one.

I was able to see a trail of blood ahead that led to the eerie castle that I had seen previously, from the train station. The ancient castle lain, within the elevated escarpment that had imposed over the village. If they were inside the castle taking refuge, then they were saved and taken there by someone. The possibility of them living was feasible, though unlikely.

My adrenaline had aroused my necessity to discover the truth. The storm had magnified my urgency, as I saw the long and arterial passage that led to the entrance of the castle. I had experienced the peculiar vicissitude of the milieu of the creepy forest. Above the front door was this dilapidated inscription in Belarusian that I fully understood to mean, "Beware to whoever shall enter this castle, and enters without discretion." It was beneath, the daunting letters written of Castle Volkolak.

There was an emblem that could be detected plainly, below the oriel windows. It was a beast of some nature it had seemed, beyond the barbican. The protruding ramparts and parapets once magnificent and stately were ruined through erosion and reduced, by careless desolation. History and conflicts had not been so advantageous to the dull façade and castellated towers of the castle.

When I finally reached the front door, I had knocked on the rusty latch and waited. I had waited and waited, but there was no response. Perhaps the storm had inhibited the inhabitants, from hearing my knocking. The door was heavy and made out of old, medieval steel of the days of yore, when the kings and princes of Europe had ruled with an iron fist, from their palatial domains of fortitude.

After ten minutes had elapsed, I sensed that there was no one present. I headed towards the side of the castle beneath the battlements, where the safest part of the stronghold stood. The precarious slope was a definite distraction or deterrence, but I had to find shelter. My concern had shifted, to my present well-being. The whereabouts of my comrades I forsook for the moment, and I had concentrated on how I could enter the castle.

I had noticed there was a huge artifice, within the crevices of the solid boulder walls. There was sufficient space to allow me to open a hole into the interstice of the wall, where I had entered. I had entered into the corridor that was dark and clammy, and saw how badly kept was the interior of the castle. There were candlelights and torches all around the hall, but they were not lit, and there was a foul stench of death I had smelt, as I had gingerly walked.

Ahead, laid a long and secretive passage that was one of many unusual passages of the Volkolak Castle I would soon discover, during my stay. The storm did not yield, and the fulgurating of the storm grew and had resounded. The lightning shone had offered intense sparks of light that I welcomed, under the particular circumstances I was confronting. I had used one of my matches from my sack, to light the torches and candles, within the vicinity. To describe the interior of the castle, I shall procure that endeavour, with a measure of accuracy.

The ancient castle had appeared to be dated, from the 13th century, judging from its architectural composition. The rooms of the castle were divided into the east and west wings, with the great hall and the main rooms in the west wing, where I was at. I was not certain what was in the east wing, and I could only speculate. I had located a fireplace within the room, adjacent to the dining hall.

There I had warmed my body, as I gathered wood from the torn furnishings that remained. There were plentiful books of poetry and literature to read in the library, or utilise for the fire of the fireplace. Whoever had dwelt in this medieval castle enjoyed to read and perhaps was very ingenious in character.

The armorial bearings that hanged along the walls and paintings of the family lineage were conspicuous. I did not have an inkling of whom these prominent family members were. It was obvious that they all had belonged to the local nobility. The question was simply, who were they? The impending answers were found in several of the books that had contained the chronicles of the proud Bryachislavich lineage.

The chronicler was a monk from a nearby monastery, who had served the family, and the last lord who lived in the castle, a Vasily Bryachislavich, the last scion of the Bryachislavich of Belarus. The name of the monk was not revealed—for the monk had remained anonymous. Was this omission intentionally done to preserve the integrity of the author—or was it done to hide a significant secret that he did not want to disclose?

The storm had continued and so did the unraveling plot of this fascinating mystery. The information that I had perused attentively was, about the unique history of the Bryachislavich lineage. Apparently, Vasily Bryachislavich was a viscount who had ruled with the Boyars, the elite noblemen of the country. He had descended from Vseslav Bryachislavich, the famous ruler of Polotsk, who was born in 1039 and reigned from 1044-1101.

Then, he was buried in Polotsk Belarus, son of Bryachislav, and grandson of Vladimir the first of Kiev. He had taken the throne upon his father's death and was a proud member of the Great Rurik Dynasty. In 1065 he laid siege to Pskov but was thwarted in his incursion. In the bitter winter of 1066 and 1067, he had pillaged and burnt the city of Novgorod. He had fought against the sons of Yaroslav in the Middle Dnieper region off Scandinavia and the Baltic region, but Vseslav was defeated in battle on the Nemiga River on 1067.

He was imprisoned in Kiev, in 1068, and he was freed by the throng. He was then proclaimed grand prince of Kiev, but he was defeated afterwards by Iziaslav, who had regained his throne. Vseslav had finally secured Polotsk in 1071, and he died on the 24th of April, 1101. He was buried in the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom in Polotsk.

Verily, if I was to believe the chronicles of the monk, then this castle had belonged to Viscount Vasily Bryachislavich, the scion of Vseslav Bryachislavich. In accordance to these chronicles revealed, there was no actual mention of his death, only his birth. Vasily Bryachislavich it was written was born in the year of 1098.

If that was the case, then how could he be in reality alive miraculously, as the last scion? The mystery had increased my curiosity about the vampiric creature that the Gypsy woman had referred to before. These parts of Europe were full of countless, superstitious tales of exotic vampires. The question was I to believe in these imaginative myths so blindly?

Evening was approaching forthwith, and the storm had seemed to be waning in intensity. My provisions were slowly diminishing, and I would need to find food. The water in my canteen was down to its last drops. I thought of the fate of my fellow comrades also, who were wounded. Were they still alive and able to survive the wrath of the storm?

That night, I had slept in the hard surface of the floor, by the fireplace to keep warm. Because the ancient castle was located on a slope, the cold draught spread easily, throughout the recesses of the walls. Whilst I was recumbent and sleeping, I began to dream about the attack and the agonising faces of my fellow comrades. The nightmare soon awoke me, from my nightly sleep in a profound sweat. I was immersed in that sweat, as I had contemplated the meaning of this particular dream that was so vivid or graphic in context.

I had perceived the breathing of a stranger and smelt the terrible scent of a wild animal or beast. The breathing began to fade, as I rose to my feet to carefully investigate the matter. I did not know what foul stench had reached me, but it smelt like a reeking stench of death. At times the rooms felt like intimate redoubts that had encircled me madly.

I was a Russian Orthodox Christian by birth, and had carried around my neck a cross always for divine protection on the battlefield, but I never associated it to vampires, or other unearthly beings. My grandfather, a devout man of religion, had once told me of the Strigoi of Romania, whilst he was there, during the Crimean War. To me vampires were nothing more than aberrant figments of human imagination.

I slept little, with the eeriness of the sounds of the castle that were abundantly present. The howling wind, the fallen dewdrops that had echoed; the pestiferous rats that roamed the castle, the slight footfalls, and the fluttering bats that loomed over me in the tower. All these bizarre noises and more, had contributed to a restless night, and heightened anxiety.

The filthy dust of the ample furnishings was everywhere, from the tapestries on to the draperies and rugs. This squalid appearance was obviously transparent within the castle and gave the firm impression that no one had resided there. Although there was some evidence that someone had recently been in the castle, from the padlock of a chamber that was opened. I had discovered this, when I awoke in the morning. Perhaps the castle had a caretaker, who came for its observance, and this chamber had led to the other wing.

Thence, I heard the chirping of the sparrows and the sound of voices outside. Were they the voices of my comrades, who were searching for the others and me? When I had looked out of one of the spiral windows, I saw they were not Russian soldiers, but local Belarusian insurgents. Their speech also was not Russian, and they were speaking Belarusian. They were most likely looking for Russians, who were in the area. I knew if they had found me in the castle they were probably going to shoot me dead.

Immediately, I grabbed my rifle and had prepared for their intrusion or hostility. Either way, I had no control of the unfolding situation. If they left or entered it had depended on their decisions. My actions would depend mostly on that occurrence. Therefore, I had waited restively, for their next move. They did nothing, but converse and departed afterwards, as if something or someone had spooked them to leave. Even though they had left, I was uneased about the possibility of them returning again soon.

I had not seen any Russian soldiers for hours, and I was beginning to think that the tumultuous insurrection was surging in numbers and vitality. I was in tremendous peril if this uprising had continued any longer. I started to fret, as I was entirely encompassed with wrathful rebels, who could besiege the castle at any moment. I bore my precious time in reading books, and observing the inner design of the castle, with a heedful mind.

The drear environs and isolation had started to reduce considerably, my mental faculties slowly. Therewith, I had to decide whether to remain, or attempt to reach my regiment, beyond the massive woodland. This would require a meticulous plan of operation that would function correctly and elude the enemy.

The afternoon subsequently arrived, and with it came the renewing sounds of the benighted dread that was waiting to haunt me. I was in the great hall, when I heard the deep breathing once more, and had sensed the watchful eyes of a stranger observing me. I saw the stains of blood on the rug that had led to a mysterious chamber. The padlock was no longer covering the door, and that meant someone had removed the padlock. Who could the noctivagant individual be I had asked? There was no one visibly seen in the castle, except me.

This direful revelation had meant that I was not alone, and I thought of exploring the chamber. My intrigue would be afterwards concentrated on that singular chamber. I had discovered that it opened and led to a caliginous and narrow passage unknown of the other wing. This discovery would necessitate my urge to escape, through this secret passage.

I had entered the passage with a bright flambeau I carried in my right hand, whilst I used my left hand to guide me along the sturdy walls and viscous cobwebs. The stains of blood were seen as well inside the passage. There were eerie sounds of drops of water, and it was an abandoned well I had located that was fresh with water. I drank some of it and had washed my face.

I proceeded, until I had reached a colossal and daunting vault that was wide opened. Shortly, I had walked towards the entrance of the vault. As I did, I saw blood trickling from the entrance of the door. Then the most shocking scene of utter repulsion had caused a sudden horripilation in me. I quivered as I had descried the image of an unsightly creature within a teeming pool of blood devouring, my fellow comrades that were savagely attacked. The foul fetidness was all around, and I had to endure, but the untamed creature had sensed my presence, and stopped drinking the blood of my comrades. It had stared at me, with its oval and alabaster eyes of absolute terror.

I bated my breath and stood stationary as I sensed that the vampiric creature known as the volkolak had poor vision and did not see adequately well. It rose to its feet, and I saw the monster, who had been watching me and terrorising the area for centuries. Its enlarged constitution was manifest, as the indomitable vampire was lanky and menacing in its imposition. The creature was not that hairy and had sharp claws and long, hooked nails. Its feet had consisted of three gigantic toes, with lengthy wings that spread outwardly.

I slowly and slowly, walked backwards, as I had attempted to flee without detection, but I failed in that attempt. When I reached two steps backwards, I had not realised its impeccable scent of smell. When I had noticed that it knew I was nigh, I ran through the passage as it followed, like a rapid bolt of energy flowing electrically. Quickly it reached me and had knocked me to the ground. It started to smell me, as I saw its pointed and enormous fangs drooling with saliva over me. Its poor sight would allow me to escape, its devilish clutch. I was under an oubliette, and a shining light had blinded its faulty vision even more. It had recoiled in apprehension, as I rose to my feet and ran out of the passage. I heard its horrible shriek, as it began to deafen my hearing speedily.

I had reached the main hall and headed towards the front door, but the door was too heavy to budge at first. I was trapped it had seemed, within the lethal auspices of death. There was an unplumbed fright that had terrified me, in such disturbing trepidation, as I beheld the stairway and corridor.

It found me in the main hall, as I had stared at it in awe of its rapid movement and ghastly posture. It started to sniff me, as it tried to distinguish my scent. For some reason, it did not detect my presence completely, because of the grime that had covered my face and hands, when I stumbled in the passage that was muddy.

My intuition and foresight had permitted me to eschew the imminent peril, but my subterfuge would not last long in duration. The inimitable volkolak had been able to make the distinction then. I had managed to grab a torch from the nearby hall and began to use it against the creature. I swung the torch at it in a threatening position, as it had tried to lunge at me with an excited fury. I could hear its hiss, as its frenzy for my blood had surged uncontrollably. There was nothing in my dissimulation that could placate its insatiable thirst for blood that did not bestir it.

The sound of gunfire outside of the castle I had heard, as it appeared that there was a skirmish, between the insurgents and the Russian soldiers of my regiment. From the crevice of the rear wall, where I had entered before, came in the desperate Belarusian insurgents. The creature sensing them had attacked straightaway and killed them all. It began to drink their blood afterwards, as I had looked on with arrant shock.

I had heard the heavy pounding at the front door, and I could hear the voices of the soldiers. The familiar language they spoke was Russian. Slowly, I began to walk towards the door, where shots were fired, and bullets were heard as well. Then, a roaring cannon ball blew into pieces the impregnable door of Castle Volkolak. The blast had knocked me to the floor, and my vision had become blurry, as everything appeared to be in sequential lentitude.

I vaguely saw the face of the volkolak as it had gazed into my eyes, with its alabaster eyes. A loud and eldritch shrill had reverberated to the walls of the castle. The ferocious volkolak thereafter had disappeared. When I awoke, I was in the encampment again, and the doctor was treating me. The blast had momentarily affected my hearing, but I recovered then. Consequently, I had returned to Russia my homeland, and the insurrection would abate and lead to the independence of Belarus afterwards.

Before I had left Belarus, I saw the Gypsy woman anew. She was standing in the road at the centre of the village. I had clearly remembered her countenance, and her stern warning. Her words to me were 'The volkolak, had sold its soul to the devil, and its offspring were curst. The volkolak was forever to be imprisoned in that abominable castle. It will hunt and kill, for it must feed, but it will not leave this area, never. The castle is its eternal prison. We the proud descendants of the Boyars shall never allow the creature to escape. We shall protect it, but thwart it as well'.

When I had mentioned that the volkolak was Vasily Bryachislavich, she nodded her head and replied, 'Vasily Bryachislavich had died many centuries ago young man. Whatever remains in Castle Volkolak is not human nor mortal at all'. That was the last time I saw the Gypsy woman, and her prophetic words were daunting and unforgettable. I never returned to the castle, nor saw the dreadful volkolak. I had reflected on my ordeal at that horrendous castle and my deadly encounter with the creature.

From what I had learnt, the soldiers had entered the castle, and found no vampiric creature inside. I never revealed to anyone the ineffable story of the volkolak—for I knew people would think me mad. Who would truly believe my incredible tale of the praeternatural being?

Time is the actual witness in history to these phantasmagoric episodes of folklore that endure the whims of posterity. We humans are those who become pale and fretful, when our sheer fright becomes reality, and it is no longer a mere phantom of fantasy. The nameless terror that haunted me in my deep fears is the volkolak of the embedded tales of mythology.

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About The Author
Franc68
Lorient Montaner
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20 Jan, 2018
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