Historical fiction novel, by Dimitris Apergis. Exclusively at the blog of OKYPUS in 36 weekly episodes, in English and Greek languages.
Synopsis: London, 1824. The boss of London's Crime Syndicate, Wilbur Barnaby, assigns two men to travel to the -revolting against the Ottomans- country of Greece and locate the renowned poet Lord Byron in order to obtain a gambling debt of his to the underworld. One of the two men is Welsh Bugs Hamhaduke, the so-called "neckwringer." The other is the enigmatic Lord Greywood. The two men will embark on an adventurous journey to the Greek city of Missolonghi via Paris. None of those involved, however, is aware of Lord Greywood's terrible secret: That he actually belongs to the Order of Strigoi Morti, the oldest and most dangerous generation of vampires.
ISBN : 978-618-00-1549-2
PRELUDE : Guilá Naquitz (1 chapter)
PART ONE : London (4 chapters)
PART TWO : Paris (10 chapters)
PART THREE : Vampires (10 chapters)
PART FOUR : Missolonghi (10 chapters)
EPILOGUE : Los Angeles (1 chapter)
[ep. 35 of 36]
PART FOUR : Missolonghi
Myrto's flight was indolent and forced. As if the daughter did not move her hand-wings but simply to align herself with the flight of her companion. This, of course, did not escape the attention of the Lord, who was always just a few feet behind in order to keep watch over her. Under the congested sky with the gray-black clouds that hid the sun, the Lord was studying before him the sad bat that occasionally erred in its route due to indifference. And the sea below them was raging wildly, with waves foaming and with etesians scented with iodine and salt. A slip in the flapping of the wings could prove fatal, and then Myrto was in danger of being crushed into the merciless seas.
Whenever the Lord's attention managed to divert from Myrto, two magical memories monopolised his mind, two beautiful moments that took place a little earlier. The one concerned the transformation of Myrto into a bat. It was a happy procession, characterised by naturalness and ethereal lightness, just as the Lord had predicted. He first showed her the way, and then she followed in his footsteps faithfully and immediately fluttered around him as a naughty bat. The other moment regarded the farewell of the Missolonghians, which was full of emotion and tenderness. The rumour that Myrto was planning to leave Messolonghi with the Lord that night had spread among the youth and so they all stood with lit candles on the shores of the Karaggeleika and said goodbye to the two black birds with traditional songs and clarinets.
My little bird that you are high
and low you are gazing.
Have you seen my love, my
Four years has been my wait
to make a wife out of her.
In spite of all their quirks and eccentricities, the Missolonghians had won over the Lord's heart. They were hospitable people, with courtesy and kindness and a genuine mood for revelry whenever the occasion arose. And if in those last days of the Lord's stay, the Missolonghians seemed somewhat suspicious and distant, he did not in any way accuse them of reprehensible behaviour. How could he anyway...! It was perfectly reasonable for people to fear a spirit, wherever in the world that would be. Missolonghi was still however a meagre exception to the rule, and this lay in the fact that - being constantly besieged and fighters and opponents of the Turks - the Missolonghians always had in mind concerns that were superior to the peculiar nature of the Lord. This is after all why the Lord's stay in such a small society lasted so long.
But even a spirit with supernatural powers such as the Lord stood unable to foretell the harsh fate that befell this jovial folk. Because two years later, in 1826, these charismatic people were to suffer great calamities. Kutachi, finally, with the help of the Egyptian general Ibrahim Pasha, managed to blockade Missolonghi from everywhere with myriads of troops. The supply of food and weapons by the Greek chieftains increasingly became impossible, and soon the Holy City was ravaged by a terrible famine. The besieged Missolonghians eventually decided to attempt a heroic exit from their city on the night of April 10, 1826. That was a bloody night. Thousands of Missolonghians were massacred by the Turkish-Egyptian troops. It was the night that was written in indelible letters in the History of the Greek Revolution as the ...-
" Milord ...! Everything is now defined around me with greater clarity ... Your anointing has now made me bolder in the face of pristine truth ... Oh listen to me, please, and keep seriously in mind everything which I confess to you since these are words of reasonable enthusiasm before the magnificent vision of divinity ... I had to become a spirit in order to strip my eyes of the veils of delusion and to see courageously the primordial cause of things ... For the first time in my journey on the world so far I feel so lucky and favoured ...! Oh, if the feeling that overwhelms me now is not happiness, then I do not have the slightest idea what name I can give it ...! »
" Oh, but I had told you, my dear Myrto, that there will be many miracles that you shall happen upon in this new course of yours and amazing are the discoveries awaiting to become your property in each turn of time. I had pointed that out whilst you were riddled with contempt and disbelief. But allow this humble fellow traveler of yours now to share for a moment your happiness, Myrto. Because - I do not hide it from you - the whole creation around me laughs with joy now that I see you happy and I do in turn become happier than you. I was afraid, Myrto. I was afraid that you would not be able to endure this journey for long and that you would soon leave me alone and desolate in the sunless ethers. What a relief that really was ...! My unmoving heart finally got rid of a burden that threatened to crush it. Let us proceed then! Let us both move with a stronger will and with a desire more fervent towards the mythical cave of Guilá Naquitz. Prepare yourself for the eternal horizon that now arises before us like an arch adorned with roses. It is now up to us, my beloved Myrto, to transform death, wherever it is, into life and creation. Let us go ahead then for new inspirations and new conquests!"
"Oh my dear milord, how sweetly you're frolicking within your infantile innocence ...! True, the passion that defines you is so frantic that you never put a stop in your haste for a moment. You take no rest to understand the meaning behind my sincere words, but instead you rush to misinterpret me. But even if I do analyse the meaning of my bright epiphany to you, I fear that you shall reject it with all your strength and you shall try to dissuade me as to my supposedly erroneous impressions. But the pristine truth, my beloved milord, stands imperious on her throne and relentlessly strikes with thunders every rebellious contestation. It is obvious, milord. The meaning was always obvious before me, but my soul was trembling at its notion, turning its gaze elsewhere. Now there is no soul in my insides and therefore I no longer regard frivolous fears. The truth, like a true and righteous priestess, gave me all the clear answers to my quests, without cheap oracles and rotten riddles. But for that, my dear companion, you shall have to trust me with blind conviction."
"And what exactly has this pristine truth whom you are praising with such zeal confided to you? Oh, please tell me so that I'll know too, my beloved companion. Because her epiphany - as it seems - has mesmerised solely your spirit and so here I stand now like a blithe clown in the face of her incomprehensible silence. Tell me too, I urge you, and do not leave me in the unbearable agony anymore."
"It is death, milord. Death is the meaning. Death is always the supreme truth and no other concept can oppose its inviolable power. Because death, milord, is the only certainty in this world where everything flows and nothing stands unarguable. Think about it for a moment, my beloved. Everything mundane hangs from a thin thread that's adrift by the winds of impetuous chance and unjustified hope. Only death is inevitable and life is ultimately nothing more than a pompous descent towards the gates of fate. I do not object, we do things within the frame of life, we draw lines, asymmetrical brushstrokes here and there, we conjure sounds with laughters and weepings, we go up and down this monotonous continuous sierra of emotions, with the tragedy constantly lurking at the scarps and with the bliss exposed in rags rotten by too much revisal. But only death stands untouched by the sea storms of chaos and contradictions, master in that windless cape where life is washed away drowned by the facetious antinomy."
"Death, eh? Well, then you should feel doubly benefited, daughter, since it is death I gave you and in fact plenty of it. Because what is the anointing of the vampire after all, but a denunciation of life itself, a sharp rebuke against the imperfections of the cosmic edifice ... But before you rush to draw temporary conclusions in matters of death, let me inform you that sooner or later you shall end up with only one conclusion after all this reasoning, a conclusion final and definitive: That the vampire stands beyond and above everything, even death itself. Because the vampire is born and bred of death itself, descended from its dark womb. And the vampire is committed to one purpose only, and this is none other than the eradication of death itself, that is, of his own mother. Think of the perversion in this line of thought, my dear Myrto. The worthy vampire must scatter the crystalline dew of life all around him whist he walks eternally condemned on the terrible paths of death. Isn't that ironic? Isn't that pure absurdity? Imagine the power of such a creature! Imagine it and then compare it - if you dare - to the worth of death. Death becomes - by heavens! - a meaningless concept, a theory incoherent like the blabbering from a drunkard's mouth."
" Oh, your six centuries upon this world have truly sculpted you into a rare gemstone, my beloved milord! Because such became the beauty in your thinking from the great profundity that you now appoint simplistic definitions to death. But don't be fooled. Death always stands as the highest ideal and the vampire - despite his almighty supernature - cannot compete its unyielding power. The only thing that the vampire manages to achieve - and forgive, milord, the necessary straightforwardness - is to obtain a faint taste from death, to smell a slight bit of its mournful scent, to lightly touch its hidden greatness. But further he does not dare to enter its gloomy sanctuaries. Because if the vampire commits such a hubris, then death will appear abysmal before him, accompanied by myriad masques that will stifle the arrogant spirit at once in the absolute paranoia. This claim does not require so much reflection when one considers that death concerns -among other things- the very non-existence, the complete withdrawal from the cosmic edifice, the total subordination to the territories of unperturbed oblivion. The vampire, milord, doesn't choose all this. He does not choose non-existence, he does not choose withdrawal, he does not choose oblivion. On the contrary, the vampire chooses to shoulder the disgrace of the undead caricature and to distill the scant nectar of wisdom offered to him by the unhappy centuries on earth. What else should this entity called vampire expect ? Now tell me, does all this sound like an enviable status to your ears? Does the vampire feel real life or real death? Or is it nothing of the two, as I am inclined to espouse? What, after all, is this exquisite anointing of the vampire that you praise with so much fervour? It is nothing but the whisper of an old hollow planetree by the aura's blow, tickling the senses and the intellect but nothing more, turbid and meaningless at the same time."
"Mock me then if that makes you happy, ungrateful daughter! Humble me mercilessly throughout our journey since such are the requirements of this pristine truth which you serve. But keep that in mind and never forget it, you reckless woman. I gave you exactly what you asked for, nothing more or less. And if you boast that you understood in just a few minutes everything that I harvested with hard work in six centuries, then I shall have nothing to do but block my ears to your prideful murmur and proceed with my flight wholesomely unmoved. Because you merely say as much as you know. And since the things that you know are few, what you say is not much. After all, you have become so obsessed with the issues of death that any counter-argument in this case becomes futile and fruitless. I shall only answer to you as your ancestors would whom - I hope - you still hold in high esteem: out from a crow's mouth will come a caw. And thus I shall close this discussion with you."
" Oh, don't get angry with me, my beloved. It was not my intention to hurt or offend you. And I do make a modest appeal to you not to be distracted by the verbal barbarities that sometimes make their presence in my oestrus. Because this is an oestrus that is unforced and torrential, and like it I have never experienced in my troubled life. So give way to anger and forgive the often unintended arrogance in my speech. After all, learn - if you haven't already figured it out - that for you I foster none but the feeling of unalloyed love, one that only my close relatives enjoy. And this despite the fact that we have not known each other for so long. So show me the proper leniency and let me confess to you my every thought in its most unadulterated form, without ambiguities and adornments. Because this is a majestic moment for me, milord. It is the fullness of time which I 've been forever looking forward to come. Listen to me, please. Now the God-given flow of thought reveals to me the very purpose of my existence, that is, the mysterious power that conceived me from the very beginning and delivered me to the world. And I'd hope for no one more reliable than you to have by my side in this grand time of self-awareness, where the whole creation finally acquires the holiness it deserves. Purpose, milord, I now have a purpose in my journey. What is an entity without purpose?"
"I'm not holding any grudges against you, Myrto. Fear not. My habitus has now surpassed the spites and it's invulnerable to poisonous words. I do like, I dare say, to behave with childish composure whenever my pride endures insults. But do now declare your purpose, daughter, the one who has already caused trouble before it is even declared. This purpose is probably very important. I look forward to hear it. And, I swear, I shall pay close attention to your every word. As you said: what is an entity without purpose?"
"Before I reveal to you the purpose of my existence as briefly as you ask me to do, a brief review of the days of my mortal life is deemed necessary hereto. Let me start as follows: It is a widely common belief, my dear, that man realises the true value of a good which he possesses only when he loses this good forever and irrevocably. It was exactly this experience that I acquired as soon as I became a spirit like you because I lost my very soul, the one that was constantly tormenting my human nature. I do not wish to speechify and tire you, milord, so let me just say that I was forced to submit to a persistent introspection in order to be rid of the bitter melancholy which I had fallen into. There were, of course, many the factors that contributed to my supreme epiphany, which in turn released me from the shackles of despair. But the most important of these factors was the revision of my lost soul and then the unshaken ascertainment that emerged from that revision. I therefore ascertained, milord, that my soul was perfect and, as such, it stood incompatible with the imperfections of the world to which it was called to harmonise with and conform. Before you attempt to make fun of this boast of mine, let me forestall you by telling you that all human souls are perfect within the imperfect cosmic edifice, not just mine. But, milord, not all souls are defined by the same impulse, and so each follows its own lonely path to its purpose, the one not caring what the other is doing. It was thus necessary for me to dive into the depths of the human's endless loneliness in order to settle on the sweetness of my own purpose, the purpose that blesses my own path alone. In conclusion, my beloved, I have discovered that my purpose is death. But when I say death, I certainly do not mean the mournful illusion that shadows over the vampire's path. As I just said, the anointing of the vampire is not death itself but only a speck of death. My purpose points to death in its entirety, the complete rejection not only of the imperfect cosmic edifice but also of the human nature that is being chased by the erinyes of decadence and mortality. This is the main reason why my life from a young age had been plagued by a series of diseases and crises. My soul within my vulnerable body complained incessantly, demanding that for which it was intended. That is, death. I am therefore in the crystalline position to inform you that I intend to head straight towards the death for which I was created from the very beginning. The death itself, milord. Not some substitute."
"Myrto! I listened to you with due attention as Ι swore Ι'd do and for that I now demand that you listen to me with accordant reverence. So listen to everything I shall explicitly and categorically tell you, since you yourself have just now referred to me as reliable. Self-awareness in any intelligent being always stands as a supreme virtue and usually slips like an eel from the hands of the one who is rushing to presume that he possesses it. This unwritten law also applies to vampires, and perhaps even more so to them since they are creatures who are driven primarily by emotion and secondarily by logic. It would therefore be a disastrous mistake if you proceeded into irreparable actions based on premature strokes of intellect. Since you take my judgement seriously and want to form a comprehensive view that's additionally dependent on my experience, I have no choice but to urge you to rise above the false meditations to which you submit your naive spirit and which lead you to hysterical deliriums. In short and simply, comport yourself, daughter. Put some measure in this frenzy. Put an end to the sophistries which like gallows threaten to tighten your neck. Plain death does not constitute an end in itself from any philosophical view."
"Oh milord, how this attitude of yours saddens me! You hurt me deeply by refusing to go along with my decision, because this is a decision made and you are in vain fighting to reverse what has been ordained. That which I have set out to do, I aim to accomplish at this very moment where the way is presented clear before me with the golden horizon vividly illuminating its anticosmic flares. High, above the clouds, reigns the murderer sun and I now move towards him to account for. High! ... Higher! ... Above the clouds ...! Towards there I'm now flying, my beloved, and nothing stops me ... Don't deny me your blessing which I now greatly need on this final journey of mine...!"
"Myrto ... Listen to me, please ... Stop flapping your wings towards doom like some lost nighthawk and listen to me ... A rational entity that stands worthy of boasting about insight and intelligence someday concludes within this tempestuous odyssey of the mind that purpose ultimately means nothing but sandbuilt palaces. The noble ideals are someday demeaned into hollow outgrowths like coveted noblewomen who're degraded into plebeian street prostitutes. Soon this world of palinodes becomes blurry until one day the good is no longer distinguished from the bad, right from wrong, justice from injustice, revolution from regimes, idealism from fantasy. Don't misunderstand my words, the entity doesn't decay. It's just that the entity becomes so enormous over the years that the world now seems before it as small as a grain of sand. And so the hapless entity is called upon to think up what to do with this tiny sand-grain that rests on its palm. But with the world shrunk in unimaginable sizes, the entity perceives at the same time its own obscene nakedness, the one that exposes it without cover to the cold and the apathy. Naked and shipwrecked as it ends up on its remote island, the entity disclaims passion and compassion and love until it wanders upon the emerald seashores with traces that do not define straight lines on the sand but tend to scribe an enclosed circle. So as it completes its circle, the entity returns to its former harbour with its heart made of both steel and disillusionment. But even there, as it runs ashore into its own shelter, it doesn't make but a complete circle again. Between these two empty circles stands the entity as the unsolved riddle of a farcical equation. In the middle of this equation, the entity learns to delude its own fears. But, by deluding its fears, the entity ultimately deludes its own self as well. Its purpose now remains as a reminder of the flags that once waved fiery at the beginning of its journey and which are now being adrift as pitiful veils within the terrible cyclone. But it is its purpose that keeps it captive to the world as it gives it something to anticipate. And since only death solves equations and erases circles, the entity has nothing to expect but one thing: A sepulchral inscription on the marble monument of the fallen heroes, those who died for the ungrateful purpose. Do my words testify to vanity, Myrto? Do they betray the bitter compromise that the entity owes to make on the worldly journey? Upon a first reading, yes perhaps. But when you re-examine the initial reasoning, you shall admit the ether-threaded beauty of time that was given to us from above as a blossom in its tender birth."
"Oh my poor milord, you're awfully fooled if you think you'll cajole me with such cheap tricks. What is sadder however is that your will to persuade me prompts you to abide yourself to the shameless nonsense you orate. I wonder, is your desire to keep me in the world so burning, or you just fear the idea of loneliness on this long journey? How did you, my dear, conclude that I was dreaming of a sepulchral inscription at the monument of the fallen heroes? What deplorable intuition told you that I am obsessed with the vanity of my name engraved on a marble heroon? Based on everything we've discussed, did you recognize in my character such a thirst for posthumous fame? No milord, I have no such aspirations. On the contrary, I am disgusted by the idea of my memory. What I want is for me to be completely forsaken by man's knowledge and history, no proof testifying to my presence on earth. I long for death to cut by sword the gordian knot of space-time and send me to the sweet non-existence where nothing is regarded or said ... I wither, my dear, as I am contemplating that in my final hours, I was to have a companion who'd never comprehended my soul, but he instead attributes such lecherous vanity to it ... I refuse to believe that you were so indifferent or perfunctory with me. I consider your spirit much too pellucid to accept such shallowness on your part. That's why I demand from you now the good wish for my exit from the world. Do it, milord. Don't leave me with the ugly wound at this crucial step ..."
"Myrto ...! Stop ...! Stop for a moment ...! I ask it as a favour that you cancel this final route and offer me a few more moments so that I may share with you all those that held me attached to the cosmic game of shapes and concepts. Hold on until we get to Guilá Naquitz, I beg you. Limit yourself for a little while until you get to know the creatures of your kind. At least give me the happiness to present you as my beloved partner to the Diet of Cluj. Give the Magister the opportunity to tell you a couple of words of compassionate wisdom. Do all this, and if your judgement prevails over the whole, I myself shall defend your abundant freedom to move as you think it best. After all, think about it, dear daughter: How will you be able to achieve the immersion at the depths of extreme oblivion if I, who have known your elegant soul, walk the world for centuries to come? That which you are passionately demonstrating now that you are asking to acquire in its fullness, you shall eventually receive deficient and fake since your presence will always stand uninterrupted in my retention. In short, Myrto, you shall have to drag me too to the sun's holocaust in order to seize the perfection of your supreme purpose."
"Oh my love, I do confess it, I shall miss your paternal caprices in the other world where I shall immigrate...! The favour, however, which you ask of me I cannot satisfy as the purpose like a master god orders me not to procrastinate in my actions but to take advantage of the conducive tide of times immediately. Forgive me, milord. As for achieving my purpose in its fullness, I'm not at all worried about your own retention. And this, my beloved, is because I know very well that your spirit sails way high above the blank concerns of this world. Therefore, not only do I rejoice in the swaying of my memory in your own mind, but I dare to say that some day you will follow in my footsteps, since this empty world shall inevitably saturate you and you shall bid farewell to it with a wide smile on your face. That's why, my dear, give me the good wish I need from you, and let us part as dear friends."
"Oh stubborn daughter! ... If your choice depends upon my own good wish, then no wish but curse I shall give you in order to put brains in your head, you devilish female!"
"Hahahaha ... Your childishness makes me laugh at these critical moments and for that I haven't but to warmly thank you ... Because the Grim Reaper - even with this radiance of sun - still seems dark in sight. Only laughter, milord, can defeat his terrible sickle which he brandishes all pompous... "
"Myrto ...! Wait two seconds and dream of our companionship in the laurelled eternity ... Think of all those in the world which dearly desire to change by our spell ... The cosmic destiny is now determined by our own will..."
"Milord, everything that needs to be changed by me in this world, I shall have to elaborate from the perspective of the other world ... Oh but now, forgive me ... Oh, yes ... I'm gazing now at the clear sunbeams and my mind now does not consider thoughts before this blinding light ... It is a pity that you leave me thus unadorned by your golden wish now that I need it ..."
"You tired me, Myrto ... Have it your way, then ... I'm offering you a lavish wish since I'm not capable of changing your mind ..."
"My beloved milord, I knew that your intentions were always kind towards me ... Oh, but now I feel the peaceful burning embracing me, my dear, with tongues fiery but also tender in their caressing ..."
"I wish you generously that the galley of your soul to always sail in seas of mellifluous happiness, with tailwinds on its stern ... I wish you to float like a rosy waterlily on mirrory ponds free from sky's foundations in their openness... I wish you to dance like a crazy illusion in bacchanalian revelries of love and wine ..."
"Oh my darling, I can hardly hear you now that I am being redeemed in the mercies of fire ... But I perceive your loving words in the depths of consciousness, even if I am now stripped of reason and senses ... Don't worry, your loving words are not wasted..."
"Goodbye then, you naughty girl ... And see that you're prudent at the opposite shore that you're sailing to ... Do not continue your female coyness over there and get into trouble ..."
"Goodbye, my dear ... And you know, no matter where I am, I shall always love you ..."
"I love you ... I wish ... I dream ... I hope ... I believe ... Until we meet again..."
Words no longer mattered much. The flying Myrto had already disappeared in the grey domains of clouds until she reached above their aegis, before the emperor sun. The first bangs of burn sounded and her winged body was suddenly decomposed into erratic sparks. But she didn't care one bit, approaching instead her luminary exterminator, and the fiery sparkles soon turned into rain and showered in myriads the Lord's aery flight. All this happened until Myrto was completely dissolved in scattered molecules of burning embers in the ethers.
As the grains of flaming dust neared the Lord's naked eyes by one inch, they formed paradoxical eidolons which then unfolded in dream-births of colour and movement. Of no importance stood the question as to whether these dream-births were derived from the Lord's spontaneous imagination or comprised the mystical visions of divine intervention. Whatever the indifferent explanation, Myrto's fiery fragments surrounded the vampire's eyesight like silky fluff-seeds of dandelion, and upon a close look emerged beautiful fairies from their silvery carapaces before disappearing too within the sky's transparent canvas.
And the Lord then ascertained with deep satisfaction that his wishes had worked and that Myrto was now circumnavigating upon an orbit of absolute bliss.
[Don't miss the final episode next Friday, 11 September 2020, exclusively at the blog of OKYPUS]
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A few words about the author
Dimitris Apergis was born in Larisa, Greece, in 1978. He graduated in BA (Hons) Film Studies in the UK. He lives in Greece.
His books are published in both English and Greek languages, by the OKYPUS PUBLISHING. https://en.okypus.com/okypus-publisher
Dimitris Apergis has received several awards for his literary work.
In 2018 he received the First Literature Award from the Panhellenic Association of Writers for his novel Gerard & the father. Additionally, in 2018 his novel Gerard & the father also received the First Literature Award at the 8th International Literature Contest held by E.P.O.C. (Hellenic Culture Association of Cyprus) under the aegis of UNESCO.
In 2017 his novel ‘At the Whiskey County’ received the First Literature Award at the 7th International Literature Contest held by the Hellenic Culture Association of Cyprus under the aegis of UNESCO.
In 2015 his novella ‘Jazz Room’ received the Second Literature Award from the Panhellenic Association of Writers.
In 2013 he received a Praise from the Panhellenic Association of Writers for his short story Labyrinth.
In 2012 he received the First Literature Award from the MONITOR Press for his short story Acid Rain.