1848 – My Petite Poupée
Marie grabbed the wooden block in her hand, scanned it, and tossed it across the yard. “I don’t like it.” She pouted at me.
I rubbed my hand over her small right cheek and laughed. “You haven’t played with it long enough to know if you like it or not.” I went after the crude toy and searched the thick bushes. I found it resting near a small bush. “Give it a day.” I picked it up. “If you still don’t like it, I’ll have Doll fetch you something else.”
My little sister could never make up her mind. She didn’t like any of the toys Mama picked up for her at the toy store in town. Nor did she like the little white and pink fluffed dresses she wanted her to always wear. She wanted to be like her big brother. She wanted to be like me. That meant playing with adult ‘toys’ as she called it and sneaking off to the nearest town at night. I wasn’t a great role model, nor did I consider myself one.
I, Remy Durand, was your average French young male with women on my mind. I made no time to learn anything else besides what I wanted to do, and I liked it that way. Several times Papa tried to teach me about his business, but learning the ins and out of it bored me to near death. As long as our servants tended to the household chores and peasant workers tidied the ten acres of land around the château, I had no reason to take on that kind of responsibility. Besides, no bourgeoisie my age needed to bother with such things.
My father successfully invested in properties scattered throughout Sarzieu, handed down to him by his own father and his father before him. The Durand family was well known and rightfully so. The only one-room school in town bore our last name!
Our family also had political connections. Papa donated money to Louis Philippe, the French king and the leader of the Orléanist party. But with money came problems, especially during this time in France’s history. Papa spoke about revolutions, protests, and unrest, crippling the people and the country. Eventually, citizens overthrew the French king and formed a Second Republic. Still this didn’t satisfy the masses. Workers continued to protest, rioting ensued, and several of my father’s close friends and business associates found themselves either dangling from the end of the rope or decapitated via guillotine.
While many wealthy families feared for their lives, I was too busy lounging around, playing with our servant, Doll.
My family faced a few hostilities and Mama suggested we relocate to a more suitable and friendly environment which catered to our class. The city of Paris came up in conversation but my father, a hard-headed man, refused the move. “No filth is going to run us from our homes,” he’d said with a pipe dangling from his mouth.
Yet they really didn’t have to. The unrest finally made it to our small protected part of France and little by little, servants and peasants threw down their tools in protest. They demanded more pay and in response, Papa fired each one of them except for Doll. Our large château now stood empty.
I called her Doll because she reminded me of a beautiful, young woman. My petite poupée’. She had shoulder-length dark hair, big beautiful brown eyes, and skin that shined in the sunlight. Hired to watch over Marie and later Mama, I soon grew attracted to her free-spirited attitude and of course, her beauty. We spent afternoons near a small river, just a quarter of a mile from our home. Sometimes, we rested near its banks, on our back, and watched the clouds in the sky. Other times, we dipped our feet into the chilly water. I saw no wrong in her and at one point, I believed she would be mine forever, even though my parents envisioned my future wife being a girl from a rich family like ourselves.
I placed the block in my little sister’s hand. “Marie, try it again.”
But she tossed it over her right shoulder. “I don’t want that. I want another doll like the one Papa bought in Avignon.”
“He can’t go to Avignon,” I replied. “It’s not safe.” Knowing I couldn’t win this fight, I called over Doll who came in a hurry.
“Marie is not happy with her gift,” I told her. “Do something.”
Doll shook her head. “She isn’t a foreign thing, monsieur. She’s your sister.”
“I know that.”
“Then don’t refer to her as such.”
“You’re better at things like this.”
Doll knelt next to Marie. “She can’t see the beauty in the toy.” She picked it up. “She may see only a block, but I see many things, like a house or a carriage.” She then moved the block along the ground, imitating a carriage and a horse. “What can you see, Marie?”
Intrigued, my little sister thought for a second. “A block.”
Marie smiled. “A person? Like Mama?”
“Oh, yes!” Doll smiled. “It can be. Look here.” She pointed to an edge. “That is her nose and up here.” She pointed again. “Those are her eyes and ears.” She placed the block in my sister’s little hands. “So, you see, Marie, it can be many things. All you must do is imagine it. You are in control.”
My sister smiled and played with the block.
Doll stood up and wiped the dirt from her knees. “Is there anything else, Monsieur Durand?”
I took her hand and whispered, “I told you to not call me that. Call me Remy.”
“I remember, but not in front of your family,” she whispered back and giggled. “I still want to keep this job, you know.” She shied herself away. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Walk with me.” I motioned for her to follow. Once far away from the chateau, we played around for the remainder of the day, careful to not bring any attention to our growing attraction to one another.
“You know this won’t happen,” she said. “You and I.”
I smiled. “Haven’t you heard? France is changing! Soon, there won’t be any class, just citizens.”
“And you believe that?”
“Yes!” I pinched her cheek. “Don’t you?”
Little did I know I would have to let her go but not by choice. Soon, she would not be my petite poupée. She would be nobody’s petite poupée because she would be dead before sunrise.
1848 – SPECIAL NIGHT
That night, I awoke to the smell of something burning.
Subtle at first, the white smoke crept along the floorboards and into my room. I opened my eyes at the low sound of my little sister’s cries coming from down the hall. Only when I heard someone knocking did I bother to drag myself out of bed. I opened the door to find Doll, in her white nightgown, cradling little Marie in her hands. Tears streamed down her still beautiful soot-stained face and her lips trembled.
“What is it?” I wiped my eyes.
“Monsi—Remy! They’re here!” She looked over her shoulder then back at me.
I saw the smoke creeping up the stairs. “Who’s here?” That’s when I noticed it almost filled my entire bedroom.
“Men from the town,” she sobbed. “They’re burning down the house!”
I saw a faint yellowish glow coming from downstairs, followed by the sound of glass breaking. “Get behind me.” I tiptoed toward the edge of the stairs.
Then I heard Mama’s blood-curdling scream. I’d never heard her scream like that before. The titillating noise stopped me in my tracks. Fear took over and I didn’t want to go downstairs. I wasn’t built for this, mentally or physically.
“Don’t fear them,” I whispered to myself while I tried to build up some courage.
“Remy, we must do something!”
I moved forward and down the steps. A group of men stood in a circle around my mother’s body on the ground, surrounded by a pool of blood. But that wasn’t the end of it. They had Papa, propped up against the wall, with his hands raised. His eyes briefly met mine.
Down the hall, flames engulfed the back of our home and I heard crackling embers all around me. A male wearing a loose, stained, white shirt and brown pants picked up my mother’s body and carried it toward the flames. He threw it, like a ragdoll, into the fire as far as he could, and laughed at the spectacle.
I wanted to fight them all. I wanted to make them pay but my father stopped me by directing his eyes to the front door. He wanted me to run but where would I go? Our nearest relative lived in Brighton. Taking refuge in Papa’s mill down the river crossed my mind but the attackers probably set fire to that as well.
I moved back to Doll who stood on the top steps with her hand over Marie’s mouth. I motioned for her to come down and I opened the door to let them out.
“Get the carriage and the horses,” I whispered to her. “Be swift about it.”
“And what about you?”
“I’ll be fine. Now hurry!”
She nodded and hurried around the house to the back stable. I hid near the doorway, just far enough to remain out of sight, yet close enough to hear the men backtalking Papa.
“What we did to her is nothing compared to what you’ve done to our families and other families out there, Durand,” one of the men said. “We showed your woman mercy.”
“Mercy?” Papa huffed at them. “You killed her, in cold blood.” He spat on the floor. “Savages!”
“If you think we’re savage now, just wait until we get ahold of your son and daughter,” the large man said. He then directed two of his cohorts to head to the second floor.
I lowered myself to avoid being detected. Moments later, I heard the barn door open, followed by the noise of stomping hoofs headed in my direction. I took one last look at Papa before making my way to the carriage. I hopped in front, grabbed the reins from Doll, and sped down the dirt road.
The men heard our escape and stormed out the front door. They screamed at us to stop but I didn’t look back. I couldn’t if I wanted to save my sister, my precious Doll, and myself. I pushed those horses as hard as I could. The wind slapped against my cheeks and ruffled my hair. But I continued forward with no idea of my destination.
Doll placed her hand on my shoulder. “Slow down.” She spoke over the noisy wind. Gently, I pulled back on the reins and allowed the horses to come to a slow halt. My heartbeat stung my chest and I leaned forward to take a deep breath. Marie continued to cry, and Doll did her best to comfort her.
“Where are we going?” she asked me.
“I don’t know. Far from here.”
“But they will find us. They will find you.”
I looked back at the winding road we just took. “Then we just take this road until sunrise. I don’t know!”
Just then, we heard rustling in the bushes on our left. Spooked, the horses stammered back, and I held tightly on the reins. “Who’s there?” I called out. “Show yourself!” I felt Doll’s hand tense up and I prepared myself to take off again.
A shot rang out.
One of the horses dropped to the ground.
Another shot rang out
The other horse soon followed.
Marie screamed and dug her head further into Doll’s chest. Helpless, I jumped down and urged Doll to follow. We had no choice but to run. I then heard another shot followed by pain in my left shoulder. Blood oozed from my wound and I stumbled to the ground. Frantic, I yelled for Doll to take Marie and make a run for it. She hesitated.
“Go!” I screamed at her. “Now!” I struggled to stand. If I had to face my killers, I would do so on my feet and not on my knees. I leaned against the carriage and watched a group of armed men, about ten of them, carrying pistols and crude farming instruments.
“We got that bastard’s son!” one of them yelled out. The mob cheered.
The darkness prevented me from seeing their faces but not their movements. They turned toward Doll and my sister.
“Leave them alone!” I screamed.
One man approached, and I recognized him. He was the owner of a small business who failed to pay the debts he owed to Papa. I had to show them I didn’t fear death. “If you hurt her, you’ll be sorry.” I felt weak from the loss of blood and I struggled to stand tall.
“And you’ll do what?” He smiled and revealed yellow crooked teeth.
“Stay away.” Doll shielded Mary and extended her arm to create distance. “I’m warning you.”
They ignored her. One man yanked my sister into his arms. “I wonder how much they’ll pay for this one!”
The crowd cackled and cheered again.
My Doll didn’t give up. She was a fighter to the bitter end. She clawed at the men who continued to taunt her. She kicked and screamed. She swung her fist and managed to hit one of them in the cheek, which made him raise his pitchfork at her.
“I’m warning you!” I yelled at them.
“I’ll do whatever I damn please.” He stabbed her straight through.
Doll fell to the ground. Her body shuttered once or twice and that was it. She was gone.
“It’s because of your father we have been dishonored.” The man yanked his weapon from her body. “It’s because of him, honest, hardworking people lost their homes, their businesses, and their family.”
“Now is the time of the worker!” the man who held my sister said. “We want what is due to us, starting with his children.”
Doll’s killer now aimed the pitchfork at my face.
I waited for the sharp metal to pierce through my skull and into my brain. Without any options, I sadly accepted my fate. Marie sobbed as her captor walked away, still holding onto her, and they disappeared into the nearby bushes. I still heard her, but the sound grew fainter until I heard nothing at all.
“Do your worst.”
I felt a sudden rush of air. The pitchfork landed on the ground, between my feet, and the perpetrator no longer stood in front of me. He had disappeared, and the rest of the mob had no idea where he went.
Something picked these men off one by one. It was a dark blur, about the same height as me. It threw one of them into the air and the other, it dragged back into the dark forest. The mob dispersed but not before the blur snapped the neck of the man with crooked, yellow teeth.
Alone, I grabbed the pitchfork and pointed it to my left then to my right. “I’m armed! Show yourself!”
A man in average height stepped out from the bushes. He wore a waistcoat with no outer pockets and striped trousers. He wasn’t wearing a top hat, so I saw his wavy, shoulder-length, brown hair. His face was covered in what I could only describe as faint gold dust and splotches of blood. He sported a beautiful boutonnière, a small flower on his lapel.
I held my aim steady at his chest, but he didn’t seem bothered or afraid. “I will kill you if you come any closer.”
“No, no. You will not do that.”
Somehow, the weapon ripped from my hands. But I didn’t see him move! I had no idea how he disarmed me so quickly!
He knelt in front of me. “You’ve grown so much since I last saw you.” He eyed my wound.
“Who are you?” My upper body shook, and I struggled to maintain consciousness.
“Julian.” He placed his hand over his chest. “I’m a friend of your father’s.”
He was well dressed for a man out on a night like this. He didn’t look like a laborer or a worker. In fact, he looked like he belonged to a social class high on the status chain, just above where my family stood. “Where is he?”
“I’m afraid your papa is dead.” He lowered his gaze. “I am sorry.”
“They have my sister! Please, find her!”
I watched this strange man lift his head. His nostrils flared. “I’m afraid it’s too late for little Marie.”
“No… no.” I pushed him away and crawled toward Doll.
“It’s too late for her as well.”
I reached her and stared at her beautiful face, her mouth open in a silent scream. Blood pooled underneath her. “I couldn’t save her. I couldn’t protect her. I couldn’t protect any of them.”
“No, you could not.”
“But you can.” I stared at him. “Whatever you are.”
“Whatever I am?” He approached me.
“Yes, you killed them quickly. You moved quickly. I know well enough you are not like me. So, go after the rest of those bastards! Bring me their heads and I will give you a fat reward.”
“No,” he replied. “I’m not some mindless mercenary for hire.”
“You will not help me?”
“Not in that way.” His brown eyes burrowed into my mind and I felt a sharp pain in my forehead. “You will die if I don’t tend to your wounds.” He grabbed my hand and his skin felt cold to the touch. “Come.” He helped me to my feet.
I eyed him wildly. “No.” I pushed him back. “If you won’t help me, go away.” This madman, who stood just inches from me, talked in riddles even I couldn’t make out. How could he smell death? No, this man was just as worse as the perpetrators who tried to take my life.
I turned and dragged my feet. I needed to find Marie, but my legs gave out underneath me. I tripped, fell forward, and caught myself by placing my hands on the ground. Blood dripped from my wound and my eyes felt heavy.
Julian wrapped his arms around my midsection and pulled me up. “There, there.” He smoothed my hair like a little girl would do to her pet. “I have you, Remy Durand. I have you now.”
He easily flipped me over his right shoulder and proceeded down the dirt road. His strength was superb!
“Put me down! Leave me be!”
“If I do, you will die. You’re worth more to me alive than dead.”
“Then let me die!”
“Hush now,” he replied. “This is a special night, your special night, Remy. You will see. I promise you. You will see.”
1848 – THE PERFECT SPECIMEN
The transformation from human to Deamhan could take days, depending on the host. I passed out seconds after Julian propped me over his shoulder. The first time I awoke, I found myself in the coach of a carriage speeding down a dirt road. The second time he stopped somewhere along the way and climbed in and joined me. The third time, he had his lips over my own.
Later, he fed from me and drained my psychic energy, which left my body so ravaged, I died a human death. There was only a small sliver of opportunity for a Deamhan to give back some of his own dark magic into the bodies of those they’d chosen to sire. Afterwards, that dark energy began its painstaking process. It took over every organ. It shriveled my heart and turned my blood into dark goo. I found out later this goo kept a Deamhan “alive,” so to speak. But the dark magic inside me couldn’t survive on its own without a recharge.he transformation from human to Deamhan could take days, depending on the host. I passed out seconds after Julian propped me over his shoulder. The first time I awoke, I found myself in the coach of a carriage speeding down a dirt road. The second time he stopped somewhere along the way and climbed in and joined me. The third time, he had his lips over my own.
After a few days, I opened my eyes and he congratulated me on surviving the transformation.
I had no idea what he meant. I was too confused and unware of what happened to me. However, I no longer felt the pain and the gunshot wound in my shoulder disappeared. My eyes hurt. I could smell wood, rain, blood, and sweat in the air. And my hearing! I heard footsteps and heartbeats from the floors below, along with mild chattering. That bothered me the most. It wouldn’t stop, and my head felt as if it was about to explode.
“Where am I?”
Julian sat on the edge of my bed. His eyes showed concern and excitement at the same time. “You’re safe, Remy Durand,” he replied. “You’re with me.”
“I don’t know you.” The pain in my head became too much. I closed my eyes and curled into a fetal position.
“Open your eyes and stand on your feet. Let me take a good look at you.”
I struggled to open them again. I was in a small room. Faint images of cherubs and angels covered the walls. A candle in the opposite corner gave off a yellowish glow. I also smelled roses from a vase across the way.
“Stand up.” He grabbed my hands and yanked me to my feet. My head drooped, and my body swayed back and forth. With my eyesight finally coming into focus, I saw the dark sky and bright moon just beyond the window.
“There. All better, aren’t we?” He stepped back. “My goodness, you make a fine-looking Lamia.”
I blinked a few times. “What is that… smell?” I looked around the room. Whatever it was, it had my full attention and I had to seek it out. I stumbled past him and toward the opened window. I leaned out and saw a vast landscape. This wasn’t my home. This wasn’t my hometown! I saw the small skyline of a huge city in the distance.
“That’s Paris,” Julian said.
“Paris?” Somehow, he took me to a city I had no intention of visiting in my lifetime. “You took me to Paris?”
“I saved you,” he smiled.
“I—I—I have to get back. I need to find my sister.” Suddenly, all the terrible things of that night came back to me. My parents and Doll were dead, and my home was burned and ruined. I limped slowly to the only door in the room.
“Come,” he gently urged me back. “We have matters to discuss.” He forced me to sit on the bed and he stood across from me, in silence. His stare made me uncomfortable. I felt like an oddity, something peculiar he hadn’t seen before. I also sensed I belonged to him.
“You have been out for three days now,” he spoke. “The transformation worked. You’ve shed that horrible human cocoon.”
“Did you drug me?” I didn’t understand.
“You are a Lamia Deamhan and I am your sire.”
“A Lamia Deamhan,” he repeated. “That is what I am and what you are now. We are creatures, endowed with dark magic, who live in the shadows to avoid prying eyes. We are night hunters. We feed at night. We walk at night. We live at night.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I placed my face in my hands. “Why does my body ache so much?”
“You will have to feed soon.”
“No, I have to get back.” I stood up again. “Thank you for tending to my wounds. As soon as I find my sister, I’ll make sure you’re graciously rewarded.”
“Remy, please sit.”
“I come from a rich family. I have money and land.” He wasn’t moved by the promise of wealth, so I upped the stakes. “I’ll double the money.”
“Remy Durand, I know your family was wealthy.” He stood up. “Your father would come here a few times a month and spend his wealth.”
“Papa? No, he never came here. He never went to Paris unless it was for business.”
“And this is a business.”
I cocked my head to the side. “Do you think me for a fool?”
“No, I don’t.”
“You’re lying, and I do not like liars.”
“Sit and I’ll explain.”
“You sent those criminals to my home, didn’t you?”
“I would never! Your father came here regularly for a very long time. Now, please sit.”
“You can’t tell me what to do.” I didn’t want to sit and I didn’t want to be part of his weird, make-believe world anymore. I stomped to the door. “I don’t know you.” I opened it and stood face to face with a well-dressed male in the doorway.
He smelled sweet. He smelled… delicious. I didn’t know what was going on and why I felt this way about him. All I knew was that I wanted… I needed to eat him. I went for him like a wild animal after its prey, but Julian stopped me before I could hurt the poor man.
“Not like that.” With his superb strength, he dragged me back into the room. “That is not how you will feed around here. Do you understand?”
He looked to the human. “It’s okay. I have him. Come in.”
The human nodded and hurried over to the bed.
“Why does he smell… I don’t understand!”
The male dropped to his knees in front of me.
“This is what we must talk about. You are no longer human. You are a Deamhan.”
“And you made me like… you?” I looked at my hands. “You did this to me? Why?” They looked normal, but I didn’t feel normal. Nothing felt normal.
“Why not? You were dying, and the option was there. Would you have rather succumbed to your injuries? Should I have left you on that road to perish?”
I gazed around the room. “My parents…” I had to think but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember exactly what happened to them, just pieces of information that made no sense. And this new feeling inside me didn’t seem to care about what happened to them, my younger sister, and Doll.
“To survive, you must take in his psychic essence from his mouth. I will show you.” He demonstrated this wonderful yet bizarre behavior right before my eyes. He placed his mouth over the man and sucked like a leech. Intrigued, I watched for a few seconds before he pulled back. His eyes fluttered and he smiled. “That is how you get sustenance.”
“I remember now! In the carriage, you… you did that to me!”
“Only to pass my gift to you.”
He went on to explain exactly what it all meant. I was a Lamia, just one of the four types of Deamhan clans, separated by our feeding patterns. Ramanga Deamhan had sharp teeth and fed off blood. Metusba Deamhan used their entire bodies and fed from being in proximity to their victims. Lugat Deamhan used their hands, like leeches. What made us Deamhan was the need for psychic energy to maintain the dark magic inside our bodies. This energy pulsated off human bodies and circled in their blood.
Being a new ‘baby’ Deamhan came with challenges. Many didn’t survive their first year. We had enemies he didn’t want to tell me about, not yet anyway. For Julian, knowing about what I could and couldn’t do was more important than that. I would never be as strong as him or any older Deamhan who he referred to as ‘Ancient Deamhan.’ Some of them surpassed his strength.
We also had rules—The Dictum—that helped us survive:
Secrecy is the key to our survival.
Do not close your sanctuaries to Deamhan in need. Respect a sanctuary’s protective atmosphere.
Do not kill one of your own.
Do not betray one of your own.
Siring a Deamhan at a young age is strictly forbidden.
Feed only when necessary and dispose of your victim as to not cause attention to your kind.
Once a Decretum is declared, all Deamhan must obey.
Only an Ancient can declare a Decretum.
Respect your Ancients.
Follow and respect the rules of The Dictum.
I hated rules. Regardless, everything he told me sounded like a fantasized tale. “I don’t care about all this nonsense. You can’t keep me here against my will.”
“If you go out there, on your own, you will surely die.”
“You just said I was now immortal!” I harked at him.
“In the sense but not invulnerable.”
I folded my arms. “Let’s just say I believe you. Why me?”
“That doesn’t matter,” he replied. “This is your new life and it can last forever, if you are careful and faithful to yourself and to me, the one who sired you.”
I heard the door to the room creak open.
Julian turned his head and within a microsecond, he now stood by the door. He moved quicker than I could blink! “I told you I’d come out when this is finished.” He pushed the door shut but it swung open again.
A tall lengthy man with short, dark hair and olive skin stood in the doorway. He wore a dark coat and breeches with a lighter-colored waistcoat. He looked fashioned for this night of nights. “But brother, I want to meet your son.” Tugged in his armpit, I saw what looked like a human head.
The sight made me move further back into the room. This Deamhan, whose hazel-colored eyes quickly transformed into the color of charcoal, studied me.
“I will show you later.” Annoyed, Julian attempted to push him out of the room but the Deamhan had other plans.
He thrusted the human head into Julian’s chest. “Hold onto this for me.”
“I told you to not carry this around our guests!”
The Deamhan waved Julian’s worries away. “They hardly pay any attention.” He strolled toward me. “Don’t be afraid.”
“I’m not afraid.” I inched back. “I just don’t know you.”
“You don’t?” He pouted. “Julian, you haven’t told him about me?”
Julian marched over to us. “No.” He handed the preserved head back to him. “There are other things he must know first. Now, take this back to your room. I beg you.”
The Deamhan tucked the head back underneath his arm. “I’m Pruett.”
“Remy Durand.” My voice cracked.
He gasped. “Durand, you say?” He looked at Julian.
“I did it to save his life. Now, could you please leave us and take that monstrosity with you?”
I noticed the skin on the head looked leathery and wet, as if he just pulled it out of some kind of fluid.
“Don’t talk about Monsieur that way.” He brought it up to his face. “He doesn’t like it, do you Monsieur?” he spoke to it.
“Now he’s upset with me,” he continued to speak to it. “Let us go and not trouble him. We still have wonderful nasties to discuss.”
Shortly after he left the room, I panicked. “What on earth was that? Who is he?”
Julian sighed. “My brother.”
“As in your real brother or…”
“We share the same sire.” He rubbed his forehead.
“Your brother is a maniac,” I protested. “He’s carrying around a human head!”
“That’s not a human head. It’s…” he caught himself in midsentence.
“This is crazy.” I paced back and forth.
I belittled him. “Hungry for psychic energy? Do you honestly think I believe that?”
“It’s the truth.”
“I would have been happy dying on that dirt road than being forced into this. So, screw your rules and your supernatural word. It’s all rubbish to me.”
“You say that now but give it a few weeks.” He crossed his arms. “Once I introduce you to what is available to us as Deamhan, you will come to love this new life of yours. I promise you that.”
Remy. The Brotherhood Files is available on Amazon
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