styria austria

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frozen hearts growing colder with time by Wolfgang Schrittwieser

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frozen harmonies II by Wolfgang Schrittwieser
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the silhuettes you drew here by Wolfgang Schrittwieser
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inspired by Ben Howard

Case File #288.

File Date: September 16, 1870

There are few within the ranks of the Watchers who do not, by now, know the name Carmilla.

Born Mircalla Karnstein in the Styria region of Austria, as the daughter of a count Carmilla lived a charmed life, given everything and wanting nothing. And yet, her status could not save her from the wiles of an unknown vampire, who killed and sired Mircalla at the age of eighteen. Now calling herself Carmilla, the newly-risen vampire joined a nest, whereupon she rose through their ranks as a favoured, cunning and cultured sister.

In the winter of 1698, the nest went too far in their predations in Styria, drawing the attention of the Slayer of the day, Auda Vordenburg, from Germany. Vordenburg, like Carmilla, descended from nobility, and like her prey she too had been called to a life of violence against her will. Yet such are the forces at work in this world, inexorably drawing Auda and Carmilla together. In the end, the nest was annihilated, with Auda dying in the last grand battle in the village of Karnstein, destroying much of the town in the process. It was assumed by Auda’s Watcher that Carmilla had died as well, writing it as satisfying fact in the last entry of his diary. He was wrong.

In 1761, Carmilla was spotted in Brittany, but she eluded demon hunters in the region, including the much-feared Daniel Holtz. She faded from sight once more, disappearing for nearly a century and once again assumed to be no more than dust. Again, we were wrong.

Carmilla reappeared in her long-ago home of Styria in the summer of 1860. Some of the details are of a sort too sordid to parse here in our hallowed archives, but suffice to say that Carmilla had her way with the maiden daughter of a retired Englishman, called here LH and SH to protect the family’s honor.

It was rumored that LH had precognitive visions of the following events, though some Watchers have supposed this to be a fanciful accounting by second-hand witnesses, possibly inspired by tales of the famed vampire Drusilla (conflating assailant and victim). Regardless, LH was clearly chosen as a new favourite by Carmilla. Befouling LH’s mind, and later, body, Carmilla befriended the girl under the most false of pretenses, even managing to fool SH into taking her into their household as a temporary ward.

Carmilla’s deranged merriment came to an end by way of a certain Austrian general, Spielsdorf. The General was supposed to bring his niece, Bertha Rheinfeldt, to visit SH some time earlier, but was delayed when Bertha fell ill from blood loss. Spielsdorf discovered a friend of Bertha’s, named Millarca, in her bedchamber.

Suspecting the worst, the General chased “Millarca” from his home with his sword, but Bertha died moments later. Soon, SH and the General endevoured to make an investigation of their own, but accomplished little until an acquaintance of SH’s contacted our Council.

The Slayer at the time, Malika Khayyam, was dispatched along with her Watcher, the preeminent Dr. Hesselius. General Spielsdorf foolishly insisted on accompanying the pair, following them to the village of Karnstein, where Carmilla had battled another Slayer so many years earlier. At the entrance to the ruined town, they were surprised by Baron Achille Vordenburg, the descendant of the Slayer, Auda, and keeper of his ancestor’s secrets. The quartet confronted Carmilla together, certain in their number of victory.

They found the vampire alone inside an old chapel, bereft at the loss of LH, who’d been spirited far away to Italy by her father. Despondent though she was, Carmilla resisted mightily, hacking off Spielsdorf’s head with his own axe and mortally wounding Vordenburg as well. Through their combined efforts, however, Carmilla was staked through the back, then felled by a sword to the throat, all but severing her head. In the chaos, the chapel was set ablaze, and Dr. Hesselius and Malika left the vampire to burn.

Somehow, Hesselius’s diary was taken from our archives and fell into the hands of a ridiculous author named Sheridan Le Fanu. With some effort, we have returned the diary to our care, yet not soon enough to prevent Le Fanu from exploiting what he believed to be fanciful writings for his own gain. In what amounts to little more than a heftier penny dreadful, Le Fanu exposed for all and sundry the sordid tale of Carmilla. Thankfully, through Le Fanu’s presumptive deviations from the tale and the fact that Carmilla is finally dead, we can at last lay this matter to rest.

Addendum, fd.1999: It would seem that our own presumptions got the best of our number yet again. Myriad reports in the last year have placed Carmilla in, implausibly, Styria yet again, and perhaps more believably, Canada. Time will tell if this beast will truly rear her ugly head once more, but we should not count Carmilla among the dead just yet.

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