There was a strange force which drew her to the crude church at the end of the only true road in the town. The hem of the scratchy wool dress trailed mud across the oak floor as she made her way between the pews towards the altar. Flame from innumerable candles flickered, hurling cold shadows around the room, glimmering off the town’s prized possession the ornate gilded cross standing sentry on the altar. Chill seeped through her garment as she knelt on the floor, her head bent over her clasped hands. For the past two raids she enacted this same melodrama, begging a deity who refused to hear her for the strength to stop what she knew to be wrong.
“You are here at an inhospitable hour. What troubles you my child?”
Lacromia barely lifted her head, stringy chestnut hair mostly covering her face. The priest’s figure popped into view out of the corner of her eye as he drew closer. Dressed in head to toe black like all of his orthodox brethren, his long grey beard and hair could not hide the calm wisdom which radiated from his weather-beaten visage.
“I need help, father.”
“Help with what?” he asked gently as he took a seat beside her.
“I have done terrible things.”
“What terrible offense could someone so young have committed?”
“I cannot tell you. All I can say is they are horrible, monstrous crimes.”
“Why have you done these things?”
She lowered her head a bit, her hair further covering her expression. The same series of questions had been posed to each of the priests in the prior villages, searching for answers and absolution where there was none.
“My master wishes it. I am trapped, father. I cannot refuse him, but I do not want to do the things I have done.”
The priest placed a comforting arm around her and she rested her head gently on his shoulder taking what little reassurance she could in his well-meaning paternalism.
“You are being tested, my poor girl, placed in an impossible position. One in authority requires great evil of you, but it places your eternal soul in jeopardy.”
“I fear I do not have a soul left anymore. What should I do?”
“All of us are obligated to seek morality and justice wherever they may hide. There are no perfect people or solutions, but one must not do what they know to be wrong simply because they were ordered to do so. Even if it means death or persecution, one must stand and fight. Do you have the courage for this?”
The vampire threw her arms around the elderly priest, tiny sparks dancing across her skin as the coven swarmed into town. He hugged her, expecting tears, little knowing her ability to cry had disappeared many decades ago when he was still a young man.
“You are frigid, my child. How long have you been out in the cold?” he asked with concern, feeling the icy chill of the woman’s body as if she had been buried in snow for days.
“It seems like forever,” she whispered in response. “You are right, father. I cannot accept what is happening around me. I must fight this even if it means my death.”
Terrified screams began to filter through the walls, calling for help as the vampires battered the village. The priest attempted to pull away, sensing something was terribly amiss, but she clung to him, preventing his movement.
“Forgive me, father. I am being tested and tonight I will fail this trial. One day, I hope to redeem myself in your eyes.”