Covenant in Blood
Chapter 1: New Blood
He'd grown accustomed to chasing me throughout time, each landscape different from the other. Ansel was beautiful, with raven black hair and eyes the color of dark skies. His body was sleek, with just the right amount of flesh to cover his tall frame. He was stunning, and he knew this.
He would often seduce me, for my pleasures of the flesh came easy under his touch. Always arriving with the flash of lightning, as if to announce that his presence was imminent. Always in the form of a beautiful woman, but in the end, his true form was that of a man.
“I'll enter only if you say my name, Branden, my precious one..”
“I've gazed at your beauty from this side of the looking glass, Ansel. I know what awaits me if I were to invite you in.” Brandon smiled as he walked towards the window pane, and slowly closed the curtains.
“There is no use, you've seen me in your dreams, in your arms, and I shall have you in the flesh, as I've had you countless times before.”
Branden stepped back, away from the window as the lightening cracked loudly, revealing the shadow of the Incubus that stood outside in the pouring rain. But just as quickly as the light lit up his room, he was gone.
He was becoming bolder with each life we've shared. He knew my resolve would eventually fail, and I'd fall.
But his lustful appetite for my flesh always took a wrong turn, and before I knew it, he'd taken my life. It was not always that way, I recall many past lives, where our love was as intense, as it was pleasurable. Where lovemaking came with limits, the point of no return was met with a firm hand between our kiss.
“This is enough Ansel..” I'd whisper as I fought to catch my breath. His lips, red with my blood, eyes half closed, and Ansel lost in an opium high that was my body. “I fear you will take me to the edge of the cliff, where I've fallen many times before.”
As my body weakened, the spell was broken, and the curse was once again set to repeat itself.
“No! I won't lose you again!” Ansel would cry, waking from his daze, to notice my paleness. “Forgive me, my love, please hold on!”
Ansel would do his best to revive my drained body, but in the end, I'd always fall into that cold darkness.
In the many lives I've lived, it now became a game of cursed lovers, sanctioned by a woman named Beth.
15th Century England
It must have been the darkest night, perhaps it was just the coldest. It is what one says, when their life takes an unexpected turn in a strange and unfamiliar direction. It could have been the most beautiful night, without a hint of any unsightly weather to mar such event, but it wasn't.
There has always been rumors that an evil spirit was haunting our forest. It was said that it appeared with a flash of lightning, and only during inclement weather. At first, I scoffed at the idea and brushed it off as a means for the old women of the village to keep their young children obedient.
But in the winter season of my twenty-first year, there came a shadow over our lands, when young men and women of our village began to disappear. No one could account for their disappearances, and the rumors began once again.
I was born late to a nobleman's house, in the village of Berkshire, England. My father, Sir Richard Ashwood is the High Sheriff appointed by the crown. He searched for answers to this mysterious event for many weeks, sending armed soldiers to scour the forest, believing the disappearances were perhaps the work of wolves since several men watching their flocks never returned home. When the herd was found, they were untouched but often appeared bloody, and frightened; their shepherds nowhere in sight.
With the pressure from the villagers demanding answers, my father increased his search parties, and that's where they found the pit. It was discovered deep in the forest, by hunting dogs who picked up the scent of blood.
I was with my father on that day, as the horrific sight of human remains pointed to a pack of wolves as they appeared to have been eaten. The pit was set afire, and the hunters searched out the wolves deep into the forest and many were killed. It seemed as if the mystery was solved. In the days that followed, the missing were mourned, and life returned to our village.
The Winter Solstice was celebrated with a festival to lift the spirits of the villagers. My father invited many of the neighboring Lords to attend, and that's when my life appeared to have changed forever.
She was the one promised to me by her father, a dreadful Knight in need of an heir. The promise of new blood was a mutual agreement between two Lords wanting to retire from their stations.
But on the eve of our wedding, a mysterious man entered the grand hall invited by an unsuspecting scullery maid, as she tossed out a bucket of dirty water.
“I've lost my way, dearest child,” The tall gentleman smiled, “Might you show me the way back into the banquet hall?”
“Y-Yes, my Lord..?” The maid asked innocently.
“I am Lord Ansel, please say my name, I'd love to hear it from your lovely lips.” Ansel grinned and flashed his pearly whites, in a well practiced smile.
The young woman blushed, “But of course! Please, Lord Ansel, follow me.”
Ansel smiled as he kissed her hand, bewitching the maid with his gaze. Then it was a young Squire who then escorted the alluring Ansel to the banquet hall.
“Thank you most kindly, young Squire.” Ansel smirked.
The black feathered demon asked many a lady and nobleman to dance, entrancing each to believe he was the Lord, or Lady. He had them interrupt the dance with my bride until at long last, Ansel had found me.
“You are most handsome, young Lord,” Ansel whispered in my ear, then laughed at my reaction.
“I do not think we've had the pleasure..?” I asked, curious as to why a man would be interested in dancing with the groom.
“Do not be shocked, can't you see that everyone approves?”
Ansel tilted his head, towards the wedding table, to show me that indeed, everyone was smiling.
But before I could respond, my hand was taken by Beth, who asked me why I was dancing by myself.
“My Lord, Husband, perhaps you've had too much sweet wine?” Beth giggled.
I could do nothing but agree, and brushed it off as having imbibed too much wine.
That night, as I waited for my bride to be brought to my bedchamber. I heard her voice calling me from the terrace. I walked outside and was surprised to find her out in the cold evening air.
She was dressed in a lily white gown, with very little to hide her feminine charms. I counted myself blessed with the fortune of such beauty.
“Beth? What are you doing outside?”
“I am waiting for my Lord to ask me to enter his bedchamber of course.”
“Of course, dearest Beth, but why would you do this? Is it not the duty of your handmaidens to bring you to my bedchamber?”
“Indeed, my Lord,” Beth whispered, “but I wanted to gaze upon you by the light of the winter moon. Isn't it lovely?”
I stood at the large wooden doors, as Beth gazed at the full moon. The skies that had threatened to rain all day, finally began to rain with the singular flash of lightening that lit up the skies, followed by the loud roar of thunder.
“It appears as if the moon no longer wishes to celebrate with us, my Lord.” Beth smiled.
“Then please enter, before you catch a chill.” I extended my hand through the large doors.
Before I could speak again, she extended her arm and I took it eagerly, pulling her inside. I suddenly began tearing at her gown, and devouring her breasts. I didn't know what came over me, as my body became inflamed with passion, and I took her body before we even approached the bed.
“My husband is most eager to bed his bride, please be gentle, my Lord.” Beth would grunt, and moan as I took her hips from behind, and pressed my stiff member between her legs.
“Your body beckons me to ravish you! I've waited for this moment for so long, my sweet, sweet, Beth.” I said, between heavy breaths, and deep thrusts teasing her tight body, to show her what was about to happen. My body trembled with lust, wanting to possess her completely.
Beth turned around, and to my surprise, got on her knees, and took my hardened manhood into her mouth. I felt as if my cock was on fire, and I grabbed her hair as I looked down and moaned.
For a brief moment, I wondered how a virgin bride knew of such things, having assured her virginity by the women of both families. To see her on her knees, servicing me, was a dream come true.
“You are full of surprises, my young wife, perhaps I will send your maids a chest full of jewels, for educating you on pleasuring your husband.”
Beth reached behind my ass, separating my cheeks with her hands while she continued to service me with expert ease. She then played with my entrance, penetrating me with her delicate hand.
“Ah! My little fox is eager to please....” I moaned loudly, “I will have you now!”
I pulled her up onto her feet, and with one smooth move, I picked up my bride, and tossed her on the bed. She giggled, and stretched her body, spreading her legs sensually, and raising her hips off the bed, gifting me with her charms.
“You are most beautiful, Beth, intoxicating, to the point of madness!”
I was a man possessed as I climbed upon the bed like a predator, ready to devour its prey. I fondled her voluptuous breasts, then eagerly sucked on her pert nipples as I split her legs with my body.
“Your touch has set my body on fire, Brandon...”
Beth's slim body squirmed beneath my own as I moved down slowly, and tasted the honey that flowed between her legs.
“My Lord!” Beth cried out, but I was lost once my tongue entered the lips secretly hidden beneath a mound of rose water scented hair.
I could not stop, it was a sweet nectar that bewitched me. In the next moment I could not help but climb on top of her body, and pierce her with my throbbing cock. There was expected resistance from my virgin bride, but there was also something I did not expect as I penetrated, and moaned.
“Take me, my dearest..my soul mate!” Beth cried out, then reached out with her arms and pulled me to her trembling lips. Her hips rose and opened up to me, taking all of me with each thrust.
I could not believe her tightness. I could not bear to pull out, but did only to dive in deeper. I pulled one leg up and used the foot board for leverage. She cried out, and bit my lip. I tasted the blood that came from the bite, and it was as if lightning had struck me.
Beth became like a savage beast, growling her moans, and grunts. Her body was hot to the touch, and she would not loosen her tight hold on my cock. I felt the heat of her inner recesses, and began to thrust and piston until my member erupted, and I came hard; shooting my seed into her body.
I could hear my name, but it sounded so far away. My body trembled with my release, as I threw my head back, thrusting several times, feeling a second wave wash over my body. I was lost as my member felt alive, and I gasped for breath in yet another orgasm.
I opened my eyes in the direction of the voice to see Beth in tears. I was shocked to see that the body I had loved so passionately was not of my dear bride. It was the body of a man, who was breathing hard, wiping the cum from his chest that came with his release, then licked his fingers with a sensual smile.
He was the one who took my hand, and danced with me during the banquet. He was real.
“I am Ansel, my Lord. Thank you for sharing your body with mine. We are bonded you and me, and I will never give you up...” Ansel whispered, as he rose quickly, and kissed me before he vanished from beneath me.
I stared at Beth, who had been yelling my name. My mind was on fire.
“What is the meaning of this?! It is the work of the devil, and you, my Lord are in league with him!” Beth screamed at me.
“I answered your call, Beth! You were standing on the terrace and said you were waiting for me to ask you to enter my chamber. It was you in my bed, and no one else! As God as my witness, I knew you..only you!”
“Nay, it was not I!” Beth cried, but I was not about to be fooled.
“It is you! Your beauty bewitched me! It is you who brought this demon to my bed!”
I yelled for the guards, who came quickly to my bedchamber, but before they could take Beth away, she pulled a dagger from one of the guard's belt, and came at me while she screamed.
“You are evil!” Beth pointed at me, “You've laid with a demon, and I will curse you to walk the earth forever, in unending suffering, in the very way I found you!”
Beth lunged forward with the dagger and stabbed me in the chest. Beth was then struck down by my guards. She lay dying upon my chamber floor, writhing in pain.
“As God as my witness, I curse you, Branden, and that demon, Ansel, which shall devour your soul for eternity...”
I felt my flesh burn over my heart, then I fell into darkness. The echoes of Ansel's voice filled my mind as I died.
“You are mine for all eternity Branden, for this dagger cut's both ways. A covenant has been signed by Beth, in blood forever to flow, and only she can undo this....” Ansel's voice was filled with sorrow, as the hunt was cut short, and his quarry was taken from his hands.
The storm had rolled in quickly, giving me just a moment's notice as to Ansel's impending visit. Perhaps I was just paranoid, because there was no hint in the forecast. But as the clouds gathered, and the evening air dropped in temperature, I locked my doors and windows. The fevers began two days ago, and his voice would soon be heard in my dreams. But tonight there would be little rest, for Ansel would surely make an appearance.
The storm continued into the next day, and I was relieved to have survived the night in peace. Ansel never appeared in the day, so I went about my life. England was my home in streets that were now modernized. With machines that replaced not only the horse and carriage, but the vehicles that filled the air with toxic fumes. The birds now shared the skies with machines that flew across the earth, and had even reached the frontiers of space. Mankind had come a long way from the time of my first encounter with Ansel Longnyte.
I knew I was living on borrowed time, so long as Beth existed in the cycle of reincarnation. In the centuries that had passed since the fifteenth century, that woman continued to evade my grasp, always failing to break my curse with the immortal Incubus.
I often wondered if she tired of the same cycle of life and death that always found us in the same place at the same time, with the same outcome. All I knew was that each time I died at the hands of Ansel, or Beth, a piece of my soul was stripped off my heart. I found life was anything but a life well lived.
Suicide was always an option, though it only worked to hasten my return in the cycle. And I had to admit, Ansel would feel the brunt of my desperation; I wanted to rid myself of this curse. He did not experience death, nor would Beth take pity on him, as she saw him as the actual criminal behind all of this.
Entering each life cycle, I lived blissfully ignorant of my curse, until the approach of my twenty-first birthday. Then the storms would arrive, and the fever would set in. Ansel would search me out, and once again profess his eternal bond in a forbidden love I never understood at first.
I would search for Beth, and often discover that the cycle of life and death was not precisely synchronized for the three of us. If Ansel seduced me, which was often the case, Beth would live out her life until she died. No doubt she would prefer to hide, knowing I would die at the hands of Ansel, thus feeling redeemed for her past sufferings.
In my first lives, my innocence was my downfall, as creatures of the night were seen as demons in league with the devil, and the only way to purge oneself of such a curse was to submit to the church's methods which always ended bad for the poor soul.
But I know that in modern times, beings of this sort were explained as a supernatural phenomenon in the mysterious world of alien species that perhaps arrived thousands of years ago.
Ansel would never give me an explanation for his existence. Only that he lived to seek me out, because to him, I was his reason for living; curse be damned.
Branden Hugh Edgar...
The winter of 1632 was a dream-like landscape where I walked about blindly until I began to recall my first life, but a century ago. I did not know who I was, nor the people who smiled at me for all my forgetfulness. My father searched for a cure to my condition, which was blamed on a fever my mother suffered while pregnant of which she did not survive.
Lady Moira was the daughter of a prominent Scottish Knight married young to an English Lord. This was a marriage the convenience to keep the peace, so ordered by the King of the land which grew tired of their feud. Her untimely death did little to keep said order, but, fortunately, my father now focused his efforts into finding a cure for me.
My father's name was Hugh Edgar, Lord of Castle Taran of Wiltshire England. His hamlet was larger than most, due in part to rich soil and plentiful livestock. His prosperity afforded the luxury of attaining the very best physicians.
I was always being poked and probed, and fed terrible tasting potions and herbal treatments that did nothing to bring the light of awareness back into my eyes. My father was told I was not long for this world.
Then one day, an elderly medicine man was brought to my father's castle claiming he was able to cure my illness. He hailed from the distant lands of northern Scotland, a Gilroy. They were sons born to the King's servants, who often followed their father's footsteps and serve the royal family.
But my father was skeptical, due in part by the fact that he came at the request of his former father in law, the Scottish Lord, who never forgave him for my mother's death.
The medicine man was tall, with red hair and green eyes. He was dressed in a crimson tunic and a black cloak that buttoned high on his neck. He also had strange markings on his hands and spoke with a thick Scottish accent.
“I am called Monroe, and I am here to treat you, young one. Fear me not.”
He burned sage throughout the room, along with candles and incense, filling the room with an eerie and somber atmosphere.
He examined me looking into my eyes while he chanted strange words before he lifted my tunic and was surprised to see many scars upon my body. After Monroe was finished, he stared at me for a few moments, before informing my father that I was not ill despite the fever I suffered.
On the contrary, he found me perfectly healthy. He continued to touch my scars, but stopped upon noticing a prominent scar under the first rib directly over my heart.
“It is one of many,” My father explained, “He was born with a fever, and often fell and became injured.”
“I see..” The medicine man spoke, “What I meant was, that while his body is healthy and free of disease, I find that he suffers from a curse being placed on him.”
My father grew angry, “This is Christian house, under the protection of the Church of England! I will not have your pagan ways dictate a cure, for what you fail to see! Are you saying he's possessed?!”
Monroe shook his head,“No, not possessed, my Lord. And I do not take offense for your words as I have seen this many times before. Let me tell you what I do see.” The medicine man pointed to the scar as he continued. “Has the boy ever been injured with a knife, sword, or ax?”
My father looked at me. “No, of course not.”
“I ask because I noticed that you have a collection of swords and that your son is a knight in training. It is not unusual to have a scar or two as the boy trains. However, this particular scar over his heart was made by a sharpened blade. Together with his lack of recall, indicate a traumatic supernatural occurrence in the absence of an explanation.”
Father was stunned as he looked down at me, “His eyes are gentle and betray no such trauma, and I know he is well loved.” But even he never recalled that particular scar, then caught a glimpse of my nanny sitting outside my door.
“Gretchen!” My father's loud voice called out to the poor woman, who nearly fell off her stool.
“Yes, my Lord?” Gretchen was my favorite, because of her soft spoken voice. She rushed in and smiled nervously. She stood tall in her five foot frame and had cared for me all of my life. At least as far back as I could remember.
“When the boy was born, was he injured?” Father looked down at the plump woman.
“I-Injured? Why, yes, my Lord.” Gretchen looked down at my frightened face. “As you know, the young master had to be taken from his mother due to Lady Moira succumbing in her fever. But other than a few bruises, Master Branden suffered no severe injury.”
“That is all, Gretchen.” My father dismissed my worried nanny, who bowed and returned to her seat.
Monroe now whispered, “You see, my Lord, his mind and body are confused because I can see that this child's eyes have seen death once before. The mark under his rib is the scar given by a dagger, and I'll wager that he cannot recall anything further than his first years of life? Does he forgets names, and faces, or has called you, and those around him by different names?”
My father looked away. What did he know, that I did not? And the medicine man frightened me, as he seemed to know of my life; as if he beheld it in the flesh. “I've known that his fevers never left him the same as a child, but still..”
“The cure can only be found through the one who cursed him. Or he's doomed to repeat this in his next life.”
My father scowled, “My son is loved by all who know him! He has lived an innocent and pure life, due to his condition. And now you want me to believe he is cursed?! I will never accept that!”
My father dismissed the man, and for some time would not allow anyone near me, fearing such a thing might be possible and create a scandal with the church.
After recovering from my fever, my life changed for the better. My father made a point to have me educated while resuming my training into knighthood, and perhaps wed a Lady of the nobility. There had been no further events with my health, and the hamlet was set to celebrate my upcoming twenty-first birthday.
As fate would have it, there came a terrible storm over the land with a lightening display not seen in many years. That's when I was struck down by yet another great fever.
It was still dark outside when I woke to find a man holding my hand. He was sitting in a chair as he slept at my bedside. I picked up the faint scent of flowers and herbs, and the gentle voice of a woman.
“Well, it's nice to see you open your eyes once again, Master Branden.”
As I focused, she sat on the opposite side of my bed, with a bowl of water and a cloth. She would wipe my face and then continue down my body.
“It smells...sweet..” I smiled as a slight chill spread down my body.
“That's because this is a comforting balm for your muscles. There is lavender and rose petals with a hint of eucalyptus leaves. You've suffered a fever, and your father is quite exhausted, so let's not wake him just yet. Although I need to ask you a question.”
“A fever?” I spoke. “I feel like I've been asleep forever..”
“Yes.” She tilted her head as if looking for the answers in my eyes. “What do you remember, Branden? What is the last thing you can recall?”
This was a strange question, but as I thought back, a sudden rush of memories filled my mind. I became anxious, as if I were late for something important. I touched my chest and felt the scar beneath my rib.
“I was taking sword lessons with my father, and...and I tripped over a bucket of water and landed on my ass!” He covered his mouth, “Oh! Forgive me! Did I hit my head?”
“No.” She smiled as she looked down at my chest. “And who is your father?”
“Why Sir Richard Ashwood of course. And you are?”
Her face did not betray a worry, though she knew his father's name was Lord Hugh Edgar. “I am Melissa. Why don't you rest, I'll watch over you and your father.”
When morning came, I awoke to the sounds of my father's laughter. He was speaking to a woman with long blond hair and blue eyes.
“Ah, he's awake, Lady Melissa!” The chambermaid smiled as she finished changing my bedding. “There you go, young Master, all fresh, and dry. You gave us quite a fright these past days.”
“Did I?” I was confused, finding it hard to place her face with her name.
“Why, yes. You've been bed ridden for nearly four days! But Lady Melissa broke your fever last night, do you not recall?”
“F-Four days? That long?!” I stared with disbelief. “No, I can't recall much, it's been all quite foggy really.” I looked around to find several people around my father as one tall, rather handsome man came to my bedside.
“Ah, Branden! It does this old heart good to see you back from death's grip.”
At that moment, I recognized his face. He was my father's closest friend, Lord Gregory, who smiled down at me.
“We'll need to get you up and out of that sick bed, and away from these lovely ladies.” He laughed and stroked my cheek. “A knight in training has to get back on his horse if he's to defend his King in times of war.”
“Is that so? I suppose my holiday is over then.” I smiled, feeling a sense of comfort in a man who had a kindness about him.
It seemed as if everything was returning back to normal, and I was soon back on my feet. While my father continued to keep me at his side, I couldn't help but notice that he was not behaving as before. Perhaps it was due to the fever that had returned after several seasons, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
He would observe my training under Lord Gregory, who made sure I was not given any favors in my lessons. He wanted to quickly build up the muscles he claimed were spoiled by too many sweets from a doting nanny and household.
In the months to come my illness was now a memory, and with that my father's desire for me to wed also returned. He did admit that my health issues had raised some concerns with the nobility's desire to join their houses with one of a sickly Lord. So my father decided to hold a tournament and feast, in celebration of the Winter Solstice, to prove otherwise.
Several nights before the tournament, a tempest blew into our hamlet, stirring the fallen leaves as a storm approached. It was strange to see and hear the thunder overhead because I felt the rumbles resonate within my chest. I could not sleep, and that's when I heard him.
“Branden, I have returned, my love.”
My fevers no longer plagued me, but now came to me each night in the form of nightmares. I found myself being pursued by a faceless man who would beckon me to join him on the other side of the mist.
“Brendan, come to me..”
His words were gentle but filled with sadness. I would shake my head and refuse, which seemed to increase his efforts as one does a kitten who won't come when you call.
“Come, my love. I have suffered your loss long enough. Won't you release me from this prison?”
“I do not know you, but you are as constant as the stars in the heavens.” I'd say with confusion. “Why do you haunt me?”
“I am one whose life hangs upon your every word. I have waited for you to return. Please see me, as one who loves you dearly.”
“Nay...that cannot be true, for you are a man. A brother's love perhaps?”
I had to admit that he was quite handsome, though I've never felt any romantic inclination towards anyone but those of the fair sex. And I had yet to even taste such a delicacy.
“The love I share with you cannot be compared, for we share a fever unlike any you've had in this life.”
He would disappear from my thoughts by sunrise, with sadness to his voice. But a strange thing began to happen when this mysterious man continued to come to me in my dreams. I was beginning to respond to his words.
“Why have you not revealed your name to me, who am I to address?” I was surprised to see him approach me from across the mist that had always separated us.
He was now able to touch me, and with it came a sensation over me as if a bolt of lightning struck my heart. The pounding in my chest had me gasping for breath, and my body was on fire as if being caressed by gentle flames.
“I am Ansel, my dearest, Branden.” His eyes were the color of gray skies, with lips that smiled as he spoke. “We are bound, you and I. Will you not hearken to my voice?”
“Bound? How so? I've never seen you before in my life..”
“Not yet in this life, perhaps. But that will soon change.”
I woke to find myself gasping for breath as this feverish dream stirred my body. The skies had opened up with loud rumblings and bright flashes of the lightening overhead. The wind had kicked up a tempest around the castle, and my windows and doors had blown open.
As I rose from my bed to close them, I could see the outline of a man standing in the rain in the middle of the courtyard. I was blinded by a flash of lightening and felt the ground quake with the thunder. When I looked again, he was gone.
The morning came with the sun peeking through my windows. Every corner of the castle was bustling with activity as the tournament was only a few days away. But as I got dressed, I was shocked to discover that I could now recall my dreams and my recent conversations with Ansel.
Along with that came a sudden rush of memories of witnessing events through another man's eyes. These images had me questioning my own sanity. I would see faces that faded in and out of my vision, as specters of light in the form of white ghostly wisps. They moved and spoke, though only I could hear and see them.
I dared not bring such things to my father, nor my sword master, in fear of reproach. I remembered the medicine man who was here months ago, and claimed I was cursed. I had to admit, it was frightening to see what I saw before me. But I knew better than anyone, that I would need to keep this my secret.
With the fog now lifted, I could see my past life as one seamless event. That something as simple as the sword I held in my hand had not changed much since my past life. In this new life I was born into nobility yet again, with a mysterious fever that robbed me of my mother, and afforded me an endless number of servants who raised me. I found no reason to expose these memories to my father, nor anyone of my household.
Because they would never believe me.
The only one who noticed my quiet moments was Lady Melissa, who took it upon herself, to see that I was kept healthy. She hovered over me at times, with a gaze that gave me cause to pause and wonder if she could also see the ghosts walking about.
Two nights before the tournament a second storm arrived, and with it, anticipation swelled within my heart.
My sleep was once again filled with images of Ansel, and the tragedy we shared in my past life. He did not speak to me directly. Instead, the images of our past encounter played out before me.
I could see myself dancing with my betrothed, Beth, only to realize it was Ansel in my arms, and my bride and guests were laughing at the fool dancing alone. Later that night, in a moment I thought to be the foreplay and consummation of my wedding night, I saw myself having sex with Ansel, whom I believed was my bride.
This dream continued all night, repeating my movements as my body ravaged this creature in a drunken, lust-filled fever which had my body trembling, gasping, and thrusting into the bedsheets. I could hear myself moaning as I pierced his body, savoring the tightness of his inner sanctum.
As I cried out, I found myself being shaken awake by Lady Melissa.
“Master Branden, awaken!” Melissa whispered as she held a candle in one hand.
“W-What is it?” I moaned, trying to return to that dream as my drowsiness demanded I address the tightness in my crotch, and selfishly refused to awaken.
“You are having a nightmare, Master Branden, and I fear you see it more than just a dream?”
I could see Lady Melissa's features in the candlelight, her voice was gentle and soothing. I looked around and realized the storm was howling outside with lightening and thunder. As I looked at the window, I half expected to see Ansel standing there. But he was not.
“I am fine, Lady Melissa. It was just an old ghost, coming back for a visit.” I tried to smile. “Please, return to your bed, before you catch a chill.”
She smiled, and tilted her head as if trying to see what my eyes were seeing. “Old ghosts will only show themselves if you leave the door open, Master Branden. It is best to keep them at arm's length.”
“I'll keep that in mind,” I whispered.
Lady Melissa retreated, but I found myself too aroused by the dream. I was both ashamed and consumed by the erotic nature of this creature, then I realized I had spilled my seed beneath the covers.
The morning came, and with the tournament only one day away, the hamlet was welcoming guests from many lands. My father was enjoying the company of the older Lords, who made a point of greeting me and introducing their knights. The evening's banquet would include the announcement of my pending knighthood. It would also be a place where I would be introduced to many of the maidens from the nobility.
By evening, the castle was filled with Lords, Knights, Ladies, and heirs. The feast was divine, and the wine flowed unending, as music played to the delight of all in attendance. The tournament was on every Lord's mind, with talk of strength and leadership. The wives and their daughters could be heard gossiping among themselves while pointing out their choice to champion them in the tournament arena.
No doubt Branden was on the top of everyone's list, as the handsome noble smiled, but dared not leave his father's side. Otherwise, he might be cornered and adorned with many a favored gift to represent one of them as his champion in the tournament.
The festivities continued late into the night, as Lords and Ladies enjoyed music and dancing. Branden spotted a young maiden whose appearance seemed familiar, though he had not been introduced to her, perhaps because she was not of the nobility. He found her glancing his way several times during the banquet, but her eyes did not betray any emotion, yet he felt a chill every time their eyes met.
As I retired for the night, I heard rumbling in the distance, no doubt we were in for another round of rain. The earth was already soaked, though this did not dampen the event for tomorrow. I stood outside my terrace, breathing in the moist air and felt the breeze through my hair. I did not know what to expect as I lay to rest in my bed, but I would not fear him.
My mind was drifting between sleep and awareness as thunder rumbled overhead. He had arrived in a flash of lightening standing before my door on the terrace.
“Brandon, please let me in..”
I stared out the opened door, seeing Ansel standing in the rain. “Why must I?”
“Because I will surely die, otherwise.” He whispered. "Call me in."
“No one ever died from not hearing their name.”
“Do you delight in my suffering?” Ansel spoke in a quiet voice.
I stared at him, unsure if what I felt was a desire for him, a man who invaded my dreams. “You tricked me, demon. Letting me believe you were my bride, and seducing me!”
“I see you have recalled your past life. But I swear to you, I had never felt this way about anyone, Brandon. I had been living for so long and alone, existing on nights filled with empty promises and blank faces. Then by chance I spotted you with your father returning home from a hunting expedition.”
“I recall the hunt. It was my father's idea for me to meet the father of my bride. But you even robbed me of that!”
“Was, having sex with me so detestable? Did not your heart cry out with the desire? Your manhood certainly didn't mind...” Ansel whispered.
I felt rage welling up inside my chest, as I recalled Beth's screams, and to my shock, Ansel's naked body beneath my own. Liaisons with one of the same sex was not unheard of, but it was forbidden by the church.
“My bride payed the price for your deception, demon! Because of you I was damned and cursed! Yet here you stand begging me to allow you to do the same once more?!”
I could not deny that what I was feeling at the moment was more anger, than confusion. My scathing glare was not a sign of arousal, and I made it clear to Ansel, that I was not ready to allow him to enter.
“There is no fighting this, Branden. The fevers have come and gone, and you are aware of your past life. To you, this is all new in the life you've enjoyed up until now. For me, the sun has yet to set, for I have known no peace since you died. But I assure you, that Beth's curse will play out until she releases both you and I. You may deny your feelings towards me, but you and I both know that we have already consummated this bond in your dreams.”