By Lee Mariner
Frederich von Richthofen had shown very little personal interest in anyone since we had met in the forests surrounding the castle of Maxmillian II in 1562. He had many liaisons over the years through out Europe, the Italian peninsula and the far and middle east but they were for an evening only. I had never known him to invite any particular person a second time. Major Helmer must have made quite an impression to be so honored.
You ask if I felt rejected or perhaps jealous.............no. I knew my place in the order of things. The Baron and I had fought together many, many times and he always protected me and I he. His and my forays onto the battlefields resulted in rejuvenation and the injured were even more dedicated afterwards. Sustenance was never taken from those that had expired. Living vampires were not ghouls. Our needs between wars were taken care of by the many lusty young farm hands that lived on the Baron's lands and those surrounding the Manor. When Frederich sponsored an evening of dining and dancing there were any number of pompus young aristocrats full of themselves who were always delighted to accept an invitation to attend one of the Richthofen entertainments. An invitation to the Manor Richthofen was highly sought after in Bavaria.
On more than one occasion a young stalwart in his cups hoping to impress the ladies and others with his skills would challenge the Baron to a mock duel with sabers. The French epee was not yet the accepted weapon for duels. Little did they know that Frederich von Richthofen had the experience of centuries and their eventual defeat was a foregone conclusion.
When first blood was drawn the Baron always insisted in caring for his defeated opponent in his private chambers. After that evening the inflicted wound would be considered a badge of honor. Frederich would only smile when he was praised by his guests for his skill and the chivalrous way in which he treated his erstwhile antagonist. They and the young jack-a-bob he had attended to never fully realized just how chivalrous the Baron was. I never suffered during these evenings but I much preferred the company of the many heavily muscled and endowed young men that assisted me in the kitchen and dining hall. Their fluids and the warm blood of life were an ecstatic elixir and there was never a lack of those that wanted to be in my bed.
I jerked my eyes to the mirror and saw Frederich smiling at me. "Klaus my friend. You relive the past too much." He said softly within my head.
"No my Baron, I enjoy the past and the many adventures we have had." I answered telepathically.
"And you would think that Major Helmer is an adventure?"
"I would never presume such as that Frederich."
"Ahhh Klaus we have been together to long to fool one another. You may be correct in your assumption. You are hoping your young stallion Dieter will accept your offer this night. Major Helmer is much to my liking as an associate but not a companion such as you have been and will continue to be I am sure. Dieter is a lonely young boy who will very likely not out live Hitler's war. I sensed his love and dedication to you and he has no reason to return to Leipzig." Frederich said softly.
The intensity of the snow had decreased some as we arrived at the Manor. Dieter rode his bike to the rear of the Manor and as I started to follow him Frederich spoke. "I will disembark at the front entrance Klaus. Prepare my chambers and then entertain the Major and Dieter until I return. I have one more task to accomplish this night."
"Yes Baron." I said, stopping at the Manors main entry. I heard the rear door open and a rush of freezing air as Frederich exited the car. He melted into the inky darkness leaving his hat on the rear seat and I heard a whisper deep in the recesses of my mind.
"Tonight I eradicate a stain from my name Klaus."
I said nothing as I drove to the rear of the Manor where Dieter was waiting beside the open door of the garage. Frederich's conversation with OberfuhrerGeneral Reinhardt rang in my brain and visions of the Battle of Verdun flashed in my memory. Then Captain Reinhardt had been less then noble when he deserted Colonel von Richthofen for a supposed meeting in Berlin with the Kaiser leaving thousands to be slaughtered at the hands of the French. The blame for the loss of Verdun had been adroitly attributed to Frederich's withdrawal by Reinhardt. Frederichs status as the Baron of one of the oldest and most noble families of Germany precluded any further action by the Kaiser with the exception that the Baron was ordered to return to his ancestral home and would see no more action. His divisions were incorporated into those commanded by recently promoted Major Hans Reinhardt. I knew that dismissal had seethed deep within Frederichs breast.
Major Helmer's car came around the Manor as I drove inside. Dieter snapped to attention when he realized who was driving the second car. The interior of the garage was pitch-black and it didn't hamper me in my movements but I withdrew an electric torch from the glove box so Dieter and Helmer would be able to follow me.
"Where is the Baro......" Helmer started to ask as he looked into the interior of the Baron's car.
"The Baron used the main entrance Major. He asked that I entertain you and Dieter and see to your needs." I said cutting him off and looking to where Dieter was standing, not knowing what he should do.
"Is that all? He leaves us with you and disappears. Perhaps he is in his chambers. I'll go there and you can bring refreshments to me there. Corporal Dieter can go with you where ever that is." He said trying to summon authority in a situation he was not familiar with.
"Major, I strongly suggest that you follow the Baron's wishes. He will summon you when he is ready and not before." I said with a steely tone in my voice my eyes focused on the deep blue of Helmers. Only Frederich expressing an interest in him and Dieter's being there restricted me from taking him by the throat. The arrogance and authority of the WaffenSS did not impress me. They may hold Germany in fear but they were guests within the boundaries of Frederichs estates.
Helmer hesitated for a few moments looking back and forth between Dieter and me. Dieter had a look of amusement in his eyes and I almost spoke to him telepathically while I waited for the next outburst.
"Oh all right. But I'll let him know it's not proper to treat a officer of the Fuhrer's WaffenSS in such fashion."
"As you wish Major." I said as I threw the beam of light from the torch to the outside showing the way to the servants & tradesmen's entrance. "If you will follow me please."
The wind and snow had abated considerably as I stood gazing into the office of Oberfuher General Hans Reinhardt, Commandant of the Neckar Region of Bavaria. A fire had built in the huge fireplace in his office and all but the light on his desk had been extinguished. He was looking at a large sheaf of papers and his fingers toyed with a crystal goblet containing a drink of some kind. Probably one of the local schnapps' that were so popular in the area.
I closed my eyes and dematerialized while drawing the heavy black Inverness coat around me. I was standing unmoving a few feet behind him. For a brief moment I thought of taking my revenge without his ever seeing me but no, I wanted him to know who the Baron von Richthofen was and why I was there in his office.
I relished probing his stagnant brain and the emptiness within. I had never had a reason to question him on the battlefield at Verdun and I saw why he had deserted his command using the authority of the Kaiser. The man lacked any sense of loyalty except to himself. He had over the years survived by deceit and backhanded maneuvers. >From what I knew of the Nazi Party he fit the mold perfectly.
Pricking his brain I whispered softly "Reinhardt."
"Wha...what. Who's there?" He said looking around his empty office. Pushing his chair back he stood unaware that I was behind him. "Who's there?" He asked again not bothering to look behind him as he reached for the buzzer button on his desk.
"Your guards are asleep Captain." I said sarcastically referring to his rank at Verdun.
"Captain?" He exclaimed as he spun around seeing me for the first time.
"Oh, its you Baron." He said, his eyes nervously flicking around the room. "No one announced your return."
"How could they Hans? I didn't use the front door." I said looking at him my eyes boring into his.
"Then how did you get in my office? The guards would have seen you." He said trying to muster a sense of authority as he stabbed at the ineffectual button on his desk.
"I came through the garden window Hans after I put them to sleep. Its not very difficult to do with the brutes you surround yourself with. Much like Verdun, remember?" I said softly while moving closer.
"That's impossible." He said as he called out for his guards. "Those windows are sealed."
"Yes they are Hans but I'm here aren't I? I slipped inside much like you slipped away from Verdun leaving thousands to die for your cowardice."
I watched as he backed up slowly in the direction of the doors. He turned but with the metamorphic abilities that my ancestors were endowed with, I blocked his movements. He looked at me and then quickly back to where he had seen me standing.
"What are you, who are you?" He choked as he stumbled back.
"You know me Hans. Don't you remember Verdun, the battle with the French?" I am the Baron Colonel Frederich von Richthoven whom you deserted to save your miserable existance."
"You can't be." He gasped his eyes filled with fear. "The Richthofen I knew was a coward and deserted after I returned to Berlin in 1917."
"A coward in whose eyes Reinhardt? You slipped away under the guise of returning at the Kaiser's orders. You left me and thousands to die and then you convinced the Kaiser and the General Staff that I was a coward and because of me Germany lost Verdun to the French. I was sent home in disgrace and my divisions were merged with yours. or rather what was left of the men I managed to save. Because of your perfidy, lies and deceit my name, the name Richthofen was degraded and besmirched . " I hissed through my teeth, venom dripping from every word. "Tonight you answer for your treachery."
Taking a few backward steps as I moved closer he struggled with the holstered Luger attached to his belt. I grinned as I watched him clawing for his weapon.
"I'll kill you you spawn of the devil." He shrieked as he discharged two shots from his quivering pistol.
When I didn't fall, he looked at his gun and pulled the trigger rapidly his eyes wide with fear and slobber drooling from his gaping mouth as I moved closer.
Throwing the gun at me he screamed just as I grasped his throat and lifted him from his feet. His eyes bulged, he clawed at my wrist his legs kicking wildly.
I carried him to the large leather couch on the other side of the room and prostrated him on his back still gripping his throat. Placing my knee over his groin I leaned forward and opened my lips revealing the needle sharp fangs. He writhed under me the fear and anguish oozing from him. "Tonight Reinhardt you go where the men of my divisions are not. Tonight you meet your maker in the bowels of hell." I said, sinking my fangs into his jugular. I held him tight with my teeth and hands as I drained the life from him. His writhing slowly subsided as his pallor turned ashen. his watery blue eyes staring blankly at the ceiling.
Standing over Reinhardt, I looked down at the pitiful hulk of a man who was entrusted with the future of Hitler's Germany. "He will desert no more men." I thought as I ran my fingers over the puncture wounds in his neck obliterating them from detection. Taking his goblet from the desk I put it in his hand letting it fall to the floor.
"A touch of the dramatic but it will help in the investigation." I thought, watching the yellow liquid soak into the rich Persian carpet.
Moving to the windows I looked back at the couch with a lascivious grin on my lips. "Had you been the Captain Reinhardt of Verdun in 1917 Hans, you would have enjoyed the delight of having my cock fill your scrawny ass before I dispatched you." I said pitilessly as I left the way I had entered. The snow had stopped and the black sky was filled with millions of sparkling diamonds. Drawing the cape of my coat tight I closed my eyes, returning to the Manor where more pleasant persuits awaited me.