Countess Adrianne Belmonte, or Reen to her friends, has never fallen in love.
Coming from a long line of Inquisitor Aristocracy in The Realm of Ultherst, Reen is the 4th in line to succeed the current High Inquisitor, Duke Trevain de Ezekiel. It is here that her lands are beset by an ancient prophecy, one that threatens to destroy the very balance of good and evil—a prophecy written almost a thousand years hence, the coming of Satan himself.
As is the duty of their Family, Reen began her quest at the early age of 9, first learning the ancient arts of Inquisition from her Father, Duke Simon and Brothers, Raphael and Constantine. Those were wondrous times for Reen, as she had never felt more safe in the care of instruction of The Realm’s most renowned Inquisitor and his sons.
It was during this time, however, that the ancient evils prophesized in the writings of Ezekiel began to manifest themselves in and around the countryside of Ultherst, first as unexplained disappearances in the night, but later, as more bizarre and horrifying deaths. As the days grew shorter and the nights, longer, a sense of dread began to fill the young Belmonte, something she herself could not explain to her Father or Brothers. As if she herself, could sense the impending doom of her family.
Her Father brushed it off of course as mere childish worry. Little did he know of the power growing inside his daughter at the time.
One fateful evening, during a disturbance on the eve of the Summer Solstice, She begged them to remain at her side. But as sworn Inquisitors of The Realm, they had to heed the call of the people, and unknowingly left for their doom.
The following morning, at the site of the disturbance, all that was left were the mangled remains of her Father, Duke Simon, torn from neck to breast, and what appeared to be the ringed fingers of her brothers—Raphael’s Garnet Insignia Ring and Constantine’s Emerald Insignia Ring. Duke Trevain was beside himself as he could not fathom what horrible monstrosity could best his most trusted Lieutenant and leave him a smoldering ruin of blood and ash.
The following day, with empty and pale eyes, Reen watched as her brothers were buried in empty coffins, and her father incinerated and buried in a jar.
Henceforth it was decreed, for the safety of all, that The Realm be placed under Martial Law to protect its people from the coming holocaust. Reen, fatherless and orphaned, was taken into Duke Trevain’s care so that she could continue her studies.
But the Reen that we knew then had died alongside the burning carcass of Duke Belmonte.
Her training began to take insidious form, and at a young age was immediately the top student of the Inquisition. Ruthless, cunning, unrivalled—Reen had become her father, and more. On the eve of her 18th name day, she graduated Senior Inquisitor and immediately joined Trevain’s ranks. During the near ten years of her training, evil was kept at bay even if it grew noticeably stronger each year.
The Prophecy revealed that the land would be scourged for a decade and at the end of the ten years of darkness a “bright light” would herald the coming of the end. Reen took heed of those warnings, and the day following her name day, she saw it—a fiery streak of crimson began its long path in the night sky. A comet now shone where darkness once ruled, and all knew to fear this new sign as the start of the apocalypse. It was the final year of their ten year scourge—Reen felt she was prepared.
It was again the eve of the Summer Solstice, and Reen found herself wandering back to where her Father and Brothers were found. Again a strong sense of foreboding took hold of her but did not fill her with fear this time. It instead filled her with a strong sense of excitement—she knew she had to be there for some reason. She knew she would find answers.
As she approached the grove, she could still recall her Father’s lifeless corpse staring up at the empty sky, in that same empty gasp of air, hands outstretched into nothingness. For a moment, she actually thought she could see him there, but as she drew closer, the motionless shadowy figure on the earth began to move. She drew her sword and approached silently, creeping ever closer to the shadow in the earth, her heart racing with anticipation. A step seemed an eternity, until finally, she was almost upon the mound of flesh.
Her heart stopped.
The shadow lurched backward, turning its head in the darkness. Blood red eyes shone through a thick mass of matted hair. It hissed, fangs long and glistening in the crimson light. It raised its hands at Reen, she had her sword pointed at its face now. And then she saw it—the hands, it was missing a finger. Where once a finger called its ring home, now an empty space, and eye glaring back at her.
“Raph…?” she whispered quietly.
It hissed back. And then, as quickly as the flickering of a candle, changed its scowl to a familiar, soothing voice. “Reen? Is that you?” It sang.
She could not believe it. There he was, her beloved brother. ‘I buried you,’ she thought to say, but as her guard began to lower, her heart never once wavered and again she raised her sword. “Stay back! You are not my brother! Who… What are you?”
It hissed again, its scowl returning. “Don’t you remember me dear sister? Don’t you remember.. our blood?”
As the words spewed forth from its mouth, it lunged at her, fangs bared, claws where hands once were, reaching out to her in a lethal embrace. Reen’s blade sang. A single slash cut through her brother’s neck, stopping it dead cold. The now headless corpse of Raphael Belmonte crumpled behind her, Reen’s blade now glimmering crimson.
Just as quickly as she turned however, a second figure leapt forth from the darkness lunging at Reen’s exposed rear. But her heart never faltered, and she turned in time to catch the second assailant in the chest. It howled with horrifying ferocity as Reen yelled back in a blood-curdling battle cry. The beast, with a long silvery blade shoved through its chest, was grabbing at Reen’s neck and arms, digging its claws into her flesh. It bared its fangs once again and tried to pull Reen closer. They wrestled with each other, crumpling to the ground, Reen frantically trying to keep her blade in the beast, keeping its fangs at bay. The beast kept clawing at her, ripping at her sleeves and breastplate, now clawing at her face.
And then she saw it, another missing finger.
And for a glimmer of a second, she saw her brother. She saw what remained of her brother.
“NO, CONSTANTINE!” She pushed him back.
The beast fell backward in agony. Reen,s till pointing her sword at the massive thing, started to rise, kneeling on one leg at first.
“Constantine…?” she asked again.
It laughed. A deep, chilling guffaw that sounded more like a terrible growl than banter.
“So you do remember me, sister. I’m glad.” It looked up at Reen from the ground. There was blood everywhere.
And then his voice changed. His face drew breath and was no longer pale, and the red gleam in his eyes vanished for a moment.
“I’m glad,” he said again, this time in the voice she remembered. “Look at you, all grown up. I am… we are… sorry, Reen. We should have listened to you…”
Reen dropped to her knees. In the first time since nearly a decade ago, tears began to well up in her eyes.
“What happened, brother? Who did this to you?” Reen cradled her brother’s head on her lap.
“I wish I had more answers for you than questions, dear sister. But all I can say now is that, we are monsters. The evil is upon us… you are our last hope of redemption.” He grunted.
“I cannot hold back the beast any longer. Please… end it. I beg of you…” he looked at Reen, tears now filling his eyes.
“Not until you tell me who did this to you…” She fought back the tears bravely.
“I… it was… find it in our archives. The Vampyr. It was one of them… he… he was the one that began it all. He… lured us… to our death… please. End it…” His breath was nearly gone. The crimson in his eyes were beginning to return.
“Be at peace, Constantine.” In one fell motion and holding him by the hair, she drew her blade and slid it through the side of her brother’s neck. It pierced through his final breath, eyes wide open, staring back at her. And then they were empty. She drew the blade back and cut off the head entirely. The body fell to the ground, her brother’s head still cradled in her lap.
She sat there, motionless. The air was still, splotches of crimson glistening in the darkness, made luminescent by the comet overhead.
“Vampyr…” she whispered finally.
Duke Trevain helped her burn and bury her brothers. She recalled the events to the Council of Inquisitors, and they knew what evil was coming. It was time, Trevain had said.
Henceforth, it was decreed that Countess Adrianne Belmonte would begin training as a Vampire Hunter.
(written by Iggy Javellana. Dec 26, 2012)