The Secret Keeper

One of the problems with being the holder of a secret centuries old is the constant worry that someone will find out. And when they do . . .

Tearden was such a keeper. He was the great, great, great . . . never mind it was just to many greats to mention. The point is, he was a descendant of one of the most vicious men in history, a man that only his descendants were aware had even existed.

Now there were legends . . . everyone in these parts knew those, but the legends only scratched the surface of who the Nicolae really were. This was the secret passed down to Tearden, a secret that came in the form of memories from his ancestors, every last one of them. It was a lot of information to sort through and a lonely secret to keep.

So when two men in suits knocked on his door asking him if he knew anything about the legends of the Nicolae, he was both terrified and excited.

“May we come inside?”

Tearden swallowed and opened the door for them to enter.

“Please sit down.” The tall brown haired man invited Tearden.

Shouldn’t I be the one inviting my guests to sit, Tearden thought as he sat down in the chair opposite them.

“My name is Nicholas Kline and this is David Robertson,” The tall man said gesturing toward his shorter, stockier companion. “We did some DNA testing on a young man in the U.S. and discovered that he came from this region of the world. In an attempt to find more answers we came here. An old woman a couple towns over said that you might have more information for us.”

The men waited patiently for Tearden to reply. “I’m sorry . . . exactly what information are you looking for?” Tearden said.

“There’s a legend in these parts about a mysterious people called the Nicolae. We want to know how they came to control magic and we’re pretty sure you can tell us.”

“What makes you think I would know anything more then the rest of the town?”

“We’re good at what we do.” David, the shorter man said, speaking for the first time.

“Well? Nicholas asked expectantly.

“Okay . . . well, first off, I don’t think magic is the right word.”

“When and how, did they got this magic or whatever it is you want to call it.”

Tearden took a deep breath and decided to tell them just a little more than what the legends told, “It’s the ability to manipulate matter at will and it started about 100 AD.”

“Do you have this ability?”

“No.” Although Tearden was void of the ability to manipulate matter, he did inherit something from that ancestor of his and these men did not need to know about it. Tearden didn’t mind that he hadn’t inherited all that the Nicolae had. Their power came with a high price. One that Tearden was glad he didn’t have to pay.

“How is it you know about them?”

“Tearden certainly wasn’t going to let them in on the fact that he was a descendant of this heinous man from history. My ancestor was in the same village as their ancestor.” He would keep his real relation a secret. “The knowledge has been shared from father to son for generations.”

“So if you don’t know how it started, can you share what you do know about this power’s origin?”

This is where Tearden needed to be careful. If they found out that the power and curse had affected his ancestors as well even if it was in a different way, then they might want more from him than just answers.

“What I know . . . is that a cruel and viscous man showed up in my ancestors village with the power to control matter. This man and his followers decimated the people killing and raping. His name was Dracul. One man from the village was determined to stop him. The people were not hopeful. What could they do against such power?”

“A couple of years later the man returned. He said that the only way to stop Dracul was for a virgin to willingly put herself in a position where Dracul would notice her. If Dracul harmed her in any way it would bring a curse on him and his followers. Much to the man’s dismay, his own daughter volunteered. When Dracul returned to pillage the village again, this young woman made sure she caught his attention. What happened next isn’t really understood. We know that Dracul raped her and then became furious and left the village with the girl and his men. Every year the descendants of Dracul would show up in the surrounding areas for a day stealing young girls of marriageable age and then disappear again. This happened up until a few hundred years ago when those attacks stopped. There hasn’t been any sign of them since.”

“Did anyone ever try to go after them and get their daughters back?”

“Many did. They would follow their tracks into the mountains but at some point the tracks just stopped. No one was ever able to find or recover their girls.”

“Why do you think it stopped?” Nicholas said.

“I have no idea.” Tearden lied.

“Have you ever met these people?”

“No.” Tearden lied again.

“You seem to know more then anyone else we’ve talked to. Why?” David asked.

“Like I said, my ancestor came from the same village. The knowledge has been passed down to me.”

“There were other people in this village as well that lived to tell the tale?” Nicholas asked, cocking his head slightly.

“Of course.” Tearden swallowed nervously.

“Why is it . . . that you seem to be the only descendant to know any real detail?”

“My ancestor was the village bard. He was afraid that Dracul might come back and seek revenge on the village, so he left, and passed the history to his eldest son, charging him to keep it a secret.” This time Tearden only told a half lie. It was true, that his ancestor left the village with his family but his ancestor was never a village bard.

“Exactly what secret was your ancestor afraid would be known?” David asked.

Oops, Tearden thought scrambling for an answer. “That they had the power to manipulate matter.” He responded a little too quickly.

“The whole village would have known that. I don’t think you’re being completely honest with us and I’m wondering why.” Nicholas said.

“What exactly do you think I’m hiding?” Tearden asked defensively.

“I think you know what happened to them and where they went. I think you’ve met them personally, and I also believe you have a very good idea of their powers.” Nicholas said.

Tearden stood up. “I think you can leave. I’ve been very hospitable to two American strangers and don’t appreciate the accusations.”

“I don’t think you understand. We’re in a bit of a crisis and we think you can help us out.” Nicholas said.

“We would like you to come with us to America. We’ve found some of these people, your people, and we would like you to help us figure out what we should do with them.” David said,

Tearden’s curiosity was peaked. “They are not my people, and did you just say you have the Nicolae in captivity?”

“We do.” David said.

Tearden walked over to the window and looked outside, while he contemplated the ramifications of going with them. If I refuse . . . I wonder if they would take me by force. Then again if I went with them willingly . . . I could . . .

“I’ll go.” Tearden said. “But I expect to be treated respectfully and not like some criminal.

“Why would you think we would treat you any other way?”

“I’m just making sure we understand that I’m coming on as a consultant and will expect payment and accommodations.”

“Agreed. You will be expected to sign a confidentiality agreement before we leave.”

“Fine.”

****

End to the first half of a short story based off of a character in one of my books. Second half to come next week.

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