5 Vampire Tales From The Dark Russian Countryside

via Flickr - Samet Kilic
via Flickr – Samet Kilic

1. The Soldier And The Vampire

A certain soldier was allowed to go home on furlough. Well, he walked and walked, and after a time he began to draw near to his native village. Not far off from that village lived a miller in his mill. In old times the soldier had been very intimate with him: why shouldn’t he go and see his friend? He went. The miller received him cordially, and at once brought out liquor; and the two began drinking, and chattering about their ways and doings. All this took place towards nightfall, and the soldier stopped so long at the miller’s that it grew quite dark.

When he proposed to start for his village, his host exclaimed:

“Spend the night here, trooper! It’s very late now, and perhaps you might run into mischief.”

“How so?”

“God is punishing us! A terrible warlock has died among us, and by night he rises from his grave, wanders through the village, and does such things as bring fear upon the very boldest! How could even you help being afraid of him?”

“Not a bit of it! A soldier is a man who belongs to the crown, and ‘crown property cannot be drowned in water nor burnt in fire.’ I’ll be off: I’m tremendously anxious to see my people as soon as possible.”

Off he set. His road lay in front of a graveyard. On one of the graves he saw a great fire blazing. “What’s that?” thinks he. “Let’s have a look.” When he drew near, he saw that the warlock was sitting by the fire, sewing boots.

“Hail, brother!” calls out the soldier.

The warlock looked up and said:

“What have you come here for?”

“Why, I wanted to see what you’re doing.”

The warlock threw his work aside and invited the soldier to a wedding.

“Come along, brother,” says he, “let’s enjoy ourselves. There’s a wedding going on in the village.”

“Come along!” says the soldier.

They came to where the wedding was; there they were given drink, and treated with the utmost hospitality. The warlock drank and drank, reveled and reveled, and then grew angry. He chased all the guests and relatives out of the house, threw the wedded pair into a slumber, took out two vials and an awl, pierced the hands of the bride and bridegroom with the awl, and began drawing off their blood. Having done this, he said to the soldier:

“Now let’s be off.”

Well, they went off.

On the way the soldier said:

“Tell me; why did you draw off their blood in those vials?”

“Why, in order that the bride and bridegroom might die. Tomorrow morning no one will be able to wake them. I alone know how to bring them back to life.”

“How’s that managed?”

“The bride and bridegroom must have cuts made in their heels, and some of their own blood must then be poured back into those wounds. I’ve got the bridegroom’s blood stowed away in my right-hand pocket, and the bride’s in my left.”

The soldier listened to this without letting a single word escape him. Then the warlock began boasting again.

“Whatever I wish,” says he, “That I can do!”

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Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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