29.3.07

Witch-finding




… He thinks that I’m a Strigoi.

[ ... ]

I don’t know. That’s what he said. I guess he must have read about it somewhere. A kind of witch, I suppose. In any case, I’ve got two hearts and I’ve come back from the dead to feast on the living.

[ ... ]

He’s afraid he’s turning into a Moroii.

[ ... ]

That’s someone who’s still alive, but is gradually melting into one of the undead. At the moment he’s my slave, since I’m the one preying on him, and unless he can get away from my influence before he actually dies, that’s the way it’ll stay throughout eternity (or until my devilish powers are defeated).

[ ... ]

I don’t know if he has any plans for defeating me. He’s certainly biding his time at present. What seems to interest him most is trying to get me to talk about my experiences in this world and the next world. You see, it’s only Strigoi who can pass easily from one to the other. We’re also closely related to Pricolici, which is the locals’ name for werewolves.

[ ... ]

Well, that’s quite an interesting thing, actually. There are two types of werewolves in local folklore, apparently: pricolici and varcolaci. It makes a lot of difference which one you are. The varcolaci are definitely hell-bound, bad to the bone, demonic and bloodthirsty. Pricolici, on the other hand, are more like nature spirits. People who became possessed by the spirit of the wild can become more and more taciturn and reclusive until they finally transform into wolf-spirits.

[ ... ]

Oh, there’s a whole pantheon. What he told me didn’t quite match the information I looked up myself, but it was pretty close. It’s just that he’s obviously been putting his own spin on the subject.

[ ... ]

Oh yeah, he’s attracted by it all right. That business about the pricolici being nature spirits doesn’t really match the reference books at all, but the way he talked about it made it clear that he liked the idea of gradually going wild and running with the wolves under a full moon.

[ ... ]

Not so’s you’d notice, no. Quite happy being a human being, thanks very much.

[ ... ]

I guess my spin, if you can call it that, is that he veers from one side of his delusion to the other.

In the Roman version, he’s a citizen, at home in the city, but caught up in internal exile and disgrace. He’s being eaten alive by remorse and self-reproach, which takes the form of an evil spirit haunting him, a Lamia or one of the Lemures.

[ ... ]

Well, I gather he thinks it’s because he hasn’t been able to perform the correct rites to keep his house safe from harm – lying here in the dark, he’s easy prey for the evil dead and spirits like me.

[ ... ]

I suppose he thinks she’s abandoned him.

[ ... ]

Well, that’s kind of constant in both sides of the story. He writes the most imploring letters to her -- not reproachful, just full of longing. It’s pretty sad, actually.

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No idea. I guess I could look it up in his records. I don’t think so, though. I’m sure if there were any relatives or dependents we’d have heard from them by now.

[ ... ]

Well, he should be able to get up and around eventually. For the moment he’s still fairly incapacitated by the accident – a lot of healing to do. He’s not really bedridden, though. I mean, he can go to the bathroom by himself, and all that sort of thing.

[ ... ]

I suppose it is a bit of a danger. I hadn’t really thought about it. Okay, I’ll certainly be on the lookout for sharpened stakes and silver bullets. Blind people aren’t all that good at setting up ambushes, though, for the most part – not ones who haven’t really got used to being blind yet, anyway. Maybe in time …

[ ... ]

Well, that’s a good point. I do need a fair amount of light. His apartment’s quite high up, though – there’s a lot of ambient illumination.

[ ... ]

Oh, it’s quite natural to me, talking that way. My Dad was an English teacher, and he used to insist on correct articulation … caused me a lot of grief at school, you can imagine. Until I learned to speak their language instead.

[ ... ]

Oh, right. So that’s his Roman side: blind, in the dark, plagued by guilt and evil spirits.

[ ... ]

Well, the exile self is a bit harder to pin down. I gather he thinks that he really did go into exile, sailed all the way up into the Black Sea, and got deposited on the shore right here in Pontus.

After that I think he fell ill, and the lack of proper treatment meant that he’s gone blind from the fever or something like that.

[ ... ]

He’s in some kind of delirium, I think. You understand that this is all theory, based on a few notes I’ve been taking while he's actually talking to me. It’s really not consistent, you see.

[ ... ]

From what I can gather, no. I’m the only one.

[ ... ]

I guess he knows the tone of my voice. Though come to think of it he often starts talking to me as soon as I come into the room, even before I’ve spoken to him at all. It’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of that before.

[ ... ]

Sometimes he thinks I’m a nurse – a local woman who’s looking after him out of the kindness of her heart, or maybe because she’s the one who’s renting out her hut to him: his landlady / housekeeper – something like that.

The first couple of times he started on that idea I thought he’d actually snapped out of it and was back with us, in our reality. But then it gradually became obvious that even though I’m a nurse in both scenarios, the only reality he’s aware of then is a hut in ancient Romania.

[ ... ]

Well, he also takes me for a vampire – striga or strigoi, rather – who’s impersonating a woman and relying on his blindness and weakness to further my own ends.

[ ... ]

I don’t know. Living forever by sucking out other people’s life-force, I guess. Why does Count Dracula do what he does? I guess you do what you’re programmed to do. Or rather, you keep on doing what your life prepared you for – even when it’s over and you’re dead. If your will is strong enough, that is.

[ ... ]

Oh. A striga is a kind of witch. A strigoi is a bloodsucking ghost. The two words are apparently related. Sometimes the strigoi is under the power of a witch and acts as a kind of zombie slave for her. Other times it acts of its own volition and tries to enslave others.

[ ... ]

Yes, I know. A charming world these simple country folk inhabit. It makes you realise that bombs and terrorists aren’t as bad as they’re cracked up to be. I’d rather be kidnapped by humans than by one of these demon-things any day of the week.

[ ... ]

There you go with the sex again. No, he hasn’t made any passes at me. He’s pretty deep in the nightmare, you know. I mean, it’s all very well to laugh, but I don’t know which is worse: blind in Rome or fever-bound on the Black Sea.

[ ... ]

Or hallucinating in Auckland.

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