Isolde: Blood-Rose Guardians (a supplementary novella)

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Going Home

With Tristan far behind me and a new strength of character and body I started my journey home to the far off distant shores of the Normandy coastline. It was imperative I felt, to make my way back to the Atlantic Ocean and back to my William. In the time that I had been Tristan’s prisoner, we had crossed much of Europe. It could have been six or seven weeks, I lost count after the first few and preferred not to remember any of them.

It was dangerous for a woman to travel alone, even for a woman such as I – now vampire. I travelled under the cover of darkness and hid from the light of day in caves and under the dense canopy of the forest understorey. It took me almost as many weeks to get back as it had to cross Europe in the company of the host. I knew I was following the right course when every now and then I would come across a village, burned to the ground, bodies decaying in the ruins. I hunted stags at first – for the blood-meals I now required, but they gave me so little energy that I had to hunt more often than I had expected and finally relented to the taste of human blood at one of the untouched villages along the way. I was careful not to take too much blood this time and to heal the wounds with saliva not blood. The man seemed none the wiser and I had an energy boost that lasted three days.

The journey was long and lonely and I craved my William’s touch so desperately that I could almost feel him in my dreams. I had the ocean in sight when Tristan tracked me down again. His only companion Marcus. They had come on horseback and had even given me a head start – they enjoyed the hunt so much. I heard the horses thundering hooves and looked down upon the vampire men from my hide in the canopy. I could not possibly hope to survive an encounter with the two of them. There was not a chance. If I surrendered would they keep me or decapitate me as Tristan had done the boy I had accidently sired? I remained still and motionless in my canopy hideaway. They set up camp, perhaps thinking that I had made it to the ocean and another day would be needed to capture me, or maybe they knew I was trapped above them.

As the stars lit the twilit sky I heard Tristan’s familiar moans of pleasure and realised that he and Marcus were fornicating. I was intrigued and silently descended my tree to take a peak. I peered through the lacing at the corner of the tent and observed Tristan on all fours like a dog mounted by Marcus who kneeled behind him. It wasn’t aggressive as I had expected two men to be, but quite tender if unusual to my eyes. Marcus gripped Tristan’s hips and plunged deeply within his orifice; both of them seemed to be enjoying the activity. Tristan came into his own hand and Marcus obviously within Tristan. I had thought that Tristan was Marcus’ toy as I had been Tristan’s, but that did not seem the case at all. Marcus genuinely appeared to adore his lover and Tristan seemed to reciprocate that affection. Their adoration of each other was no different to William’s and my relationship. I was sure to incur Marcus’ wrath when I crept in and decapitated his lover this night, but that was the punishment this man deserved and I fully intended to be rid of him.

I waited outside the tent until I heard the sounds of two men snoring. My heart beat hard as I pulled the dagger from its sheath and prepared myself to enter the tent. I feared that the sleeping vampires would hear my heart the way it raced. I crept in and looked down on the men in the cot, cuddled together as though in love, cuddled together as William and I would have been had I not been taken from him. Marcus’ encircled Tristan and their bodies fit neatly together.

I carefully, grabbed a handful of Tristan’s hair and raised the dagger ready to slice through Tristan’s exposed neck. His hand caught mine and froze. He pulled it in to his chest and I was forced onto my knees. His eyes were closed, but he held my hand fast, tenderly against his heart. I didn’t know what to do. Could I tug my hand free? Would that wake them and I’d then have two angry vampires to contend with. Did he think my hand belonged to Marcus? Was he snuggling into his male lover rather than his female one? I had no choice but to finish the deed I had come here to perform.

The blade cut cleanly and quickly. I was very much surprised with the ease of it. I was also surprised with the result. Tristan turned to dust. A pile of dust lay beside the sleeping Marcus; in the centre of it lay the ring, my ring, but one that I could no longer bear to wear. I contemplated killing Marcus too, but decided that I he deserved to know loss – it would be his punishment for all of the pain he had inflicted on my village and others, and so I crept silently from the tent and continued my journey…I wanted him to suffer over the loss of his lover as I was sure my William had suffered since my disappearance.

It was a few more days before I made it home and found nothing but rubble and the blackened remains of the burnt out village I used to call home. I ran, weeping, towards the humble cottage William and I had shared. The door swung broken from its iron hinges and the roof was missing, burned away by flames. I stepped into the living room and looked around at what had been my happy home. I wiped the tears from my face and leant back against the support of a stone wall. Everything was ruined. If it hadn’t been damaged by the flames and heat, then Marcus’ men had smashed or shattered it or the ravages of weeks of exposure to the weather had ensured that destruction was total. Not even my figurines stood on the mantle. William had carved them for me, whittling them from soapstone while on campaign, but not one of them remained for me to treasure. I longed to stay and search the contents of my house more thoroughly, but the distant thunder of hoof beats startled me into action. Marcus was bound to pursue me for decapitating his lover – he couldn’t be sure it was me of course, but he wouldn’t wait to find out if his suspicions were right either – and so I left. I picked up the bundle of goods I had carried since escaping Tristan’s clutches and disappeared into the forest.

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