༺ The Book of Tyrkanzyaka – Old Testament (Part 1) ༻
In the deepest recesses of the underground armory, in the final chamber adorned with sinister carvings that paid homage to the darkness, an eerie atmosphere pervaded. The air hung deathly still, so much so that not even a whisper of wind could be heard.
In the enveloping pitch-black darkness, a girl rested in a luxurious coffin of imperial juniper, using it as her bed. She was the vampire. Her pale silver hair cascaded freely upon the coffin as the vampire delicately clasped her hands together and fixed her serene gaze upon me, not even exhaling a breath.
Lying down demurely, she asked me a question of pure curiosity.
“Is this truly fine? Is there no need to expose the heart?”
“There’s no need for now. Instead, hold on to this.”
I passed a card into her palm, the Ace of Hearts. Upon examining its pattern, the vampire smiled cheerfully.
“For it to be a heart of all things. What, is it a talisman?”
“No. Say hello. It’s going to be your new heart from now on, Trainee Tyrkanzyaka.”
The vampire reexamined the card but couldn’t find anything special. I chuckled incredulously and continued to explain.
“Of course, it’s not a real heart. I just prepared a similar shape for allusion. Hold that tightly in both hands and bring it to your chest.”
The vampire did as I instructed without any doubt.
I used to fantasize about having everyone in the world obey my every word, but witnessing someone behave exactly as I commanded made me realize how uncomfortable it truly was. I came to the conclusion that it was best to stick to mind reading in my life after all.
“Well then. Trainee Tyrkanzyaka. Close your eyes and breathe comfortably. Relax your body, let your blood flow peacefully… though I suppose that part doesn’t require my instruction.”
Vampiric blood flowed peacefully by nature. Figuring it was better to focus on myself, I inhaled deeply. A tension, the kind I hadn’t felt in a long time, gripped my body. I didn’t welcome the sensation at all, but what choice did I have? I had brought it upon myself.
I positioned myself at the head of the coffin crafted from imperial juniper, closest to the vampire’s head. Our faces were close. Even in the profound dark, her crimson eyes glowed as brightly as ever.
Locked in a gaze with her, I offered a simple explanation.
“Trainee Tyrkanzyaka. Your heart doesn’t beat, but you can move your blood. In essence, you need no heart, and regaining one doesn’t mean your abilities will disappear. In a way, you’re hoping for something useless. Do you still wish for your heart back?”
“Why, may I ask?”
Her words held a certain contradiction, yet they encapsulated her heartfelt longing.
“Why is that? When you resent someone, you can cut them off without experiencing any pain. Isn’t that a fine ability? It’s an envious trait for ordinary individuals, especially rulers.”
“Even at this stage, you still test me?”
The vampire retorted in mock anger.
“I was once human, too. Although I have left that time behind, I am still haunted by the past, even as countless days and nights go by. The memories of those fleeting moments, like sparks, have aged and faded. But in the end, my time as a human is what shaped me. I was able to change precisely because my emotions rebelled against me… and after death, no matter how hard I tried, I could never change.”
“Is that so.”
I had already read her past previously, but I pretended not to know.
The vampire’s goal wasn’t to make her blood flow; she was already capable of doing so, and freely at that. If she desired, she could grind away her original heart and fashion an exact replica, or even simply exert pressure to make it beat.
The vampire wielded godlike power over the physical form… Yet, this very aspect troubled Progenitor Tyrkanzyaka. Her ability to control precluded her from creating anything beyond her control, leaving her with no alternative but to seek a solution from others.
“Alright. Wish accepted. I’ll make it happen for you.”
And it happened again.
I closed my eyes, immersing myself into the inner darkness, a world of my own where a dim candle cast its feeble glow. I arrived in a shabby library, its shelves laden with forgotten books. A small candle stood amidst it, reserved for its librarian.
The candlelight was so faint that it could barely illuminate a single page before the eyes. This modest light served as a barrier between the book and its keeper, granting the librarian the role of administrator.
I picked up the candle, its flicker weak and feeble as if it could extinguish at any moment. The flame was so delicate that a mere breath of wind could snuff it out instantly.
In contrast, the book before me was thick and weighty, surpassing the expanse of even an encyclopedia. It was a single volume, yet it appeared to contain an epic within its pages. Reading it in its entirety would require dozens more of the tiny candle in my hand… However, what I was about to embark upon didn’t require a librarian.
By casting my gaze downward, all I could do was simply read the letters on the pages. It would grant me an objective view… But then, I would miss out on discovering the chill in the paper, the fragrance of distant memories, the imprints left by its writer, and the annotations she must have wished to tuck into the margins.
So, I made the choice to temporarily relinquish my role as a librarian. I blew at the candle, extinguishing its flame instantly.
And then, darkness fell around me.
It was a forsaken night, where even the moon averted her gaze in her crescent form. Not a glimmer of light graced the world. Those who feared the darkness sought shelter in their homes, lying in their beds with closed eyes and clasped hands, beseeching for its departure.
Yet within that veil of night, a father and his daughter traversed the dimly lit street, pulling a cart.
Those who trod upon the nocturnal path could be divided into two groups: those with a pressing need that compelled them to brave the lurking dangers of the night, and those seeking refuge in its darkness, hoping it would conceal their misdeeds.
The two in question belonged to the latter category.
“Tyr, I’m sorry. For getting you involved in something like this…”
The girl’s father offered a soft apology, yet she responded with a radiant smile, dispelling the shadows cast by the night.
“It’s okay. It’s actually nice when I think of it as a night walk. You know how I like looking up at the night sky.”
However, both of them knew that her smile was intended for her father’s sake rather than her own.
Silently, the father pulled the cart, his face burdened with guilt. The wooden vehicle glided along smoothly, its wheels muffled with leather coverings and its creaking axles generously lubricated with oil to ensure complete silence. Just how heinous was their crime for them to exercise such utmost caution?
The answer resided within the trembling cart, concealed beneath a blanket—a corpse buried just a week prior.
When life is extinguished, it finds repose in the embrace of Mother Earth. Therefore, disturbing such rest is deemed an atrocity. So how abhorrent could it be to mutilate a corpse after digging it up? Nothing could measure up. The only fate awaiting the transgressor would be to serve as a public spectacle, subjected to stoning or immolation on the stake.
Nonetheless, for every sin, there is always a sinner.
“Tyr, look. These are the many paths blood courses through.”
The father used a knife to take the corpse apart, employing a method that differed from the handling of meat, which intensified the repulsiveness and gruesomeness of the process. Layer by layer, he meticulously peeled away the skin and muscles until the body was stripped of its tightly wrapped covering, exposing the adhesive membrane beneath.
The true labor would commence once he sliced through the membrane.
With forceful determination, he grasped and separated the muscles clinging to the bones, revealing the amalgamation of deceased blood and entrails. These components, already decomposed or injured, demanded careful handling. Methodically, he maneuvered around them, either extracting or displacing them, delving deeper into the body.
And there lay the exposed heart and the body’s network of blood vessels.
The father used a long rod to lift the blood vessels, beginning to speak.
“This is the heart, the very core of our beings, and the place where blood is purified. All blood originates here. With every heartbeat, blood departs and journeys throughout the body. The blood that leaves the heart goes inward, while the returning blood emerges to the exterior. That’s how the body forms an expansive circulation.”
She had heard the same words countless times before, yet her father would emphasize them every time he examined a new corpse. Even now, the girl could recite his teachings by heart, but she simply nodded instead of pointing that out.
“However, I still don’t quite get the intermediate process… It seems as though the incoming blood momentarily gathers in the entrails before draining away. but verifying this in a lifeless body is challenging. I need your help, Tyr.”
The girl extended her hand without any hesitation. Then, something astonishing occurred.
Crimson blood began to surge forth from within the body. The blood concealed deep within the body upon the occurrence of death, slowly responded to the girl’s call, rousing from its dormant state.
As the girl drew out the blood, she asked her father.
“Should I direct it this way?”
“Please do. Your help is always appreciated Tyr.”
Unlike other children her age who played in the dirt, the girl spent her days alongside her father, a healer, digging up graves and dissecting corpses. Through this process, she acquired a peculiar power: the ability to manipulate blood. Although her abilities were limited to halting the flow of blood from minor wounds, it was a skill her father had greatly desired.
Initially, he had reservations about involving his daughter in his crimes, but once she awakened to this power, he no longer refused her assistance. He couldn’t. Her ability was just that special and helpful.
Naturally, the girl offered her help to her father without any trace of aversion.
“Should I let the blood flow along this path?”
“Yes. If you direct the blood inward, I can observe how it gathers in the organs.”
The father was already quite an impressive healer, but from a certain point onward, his abilities continued to grow. Rumors of his exceptional skills spread, to the point he soon even started receiving patients through word of mouth from a neighboring village.
In no time, he became a source of pride for the entire village, with the people holding him in high regard.
“…Your mother died because her lungs were filled with blood. To be exact, the pathway for the blood to leave the lungs was damaged. This valve had a hole in it like a tattered fabric, you see…”
Whenever the villagers spoke of the father, they never failed to mention the profound transformation in his skills that occurred after the tragic loss of his wife to an unfortunate illness.
The tragic loss of an ailing wife and the healer’s subsequent discovery of latent talents. Such a simple and beautiful story.
“Tyr, if we acquire the ability to identify the damaged pathway and fix it… We can conquer the illness.”
But having watched her father closer than anyone else, the girl knew. His “discovery” was born of countless encounters with lifeless bodies.
“The sickness that took your mother… we can rid it from this world.”
A peculiar blend of crazed passion ignited in his eyes as he spoke.
The father was a healer, but it was uncertain as to whether he could be strictly deemed a medical practitioner. In those days, when people lived their lives according to the tasks assigned to them rather than choosing a profession, there were usually one or two individuals in the village who occupied a remarkably multifaceted position.
Tyr’s father was one such individual. Despite being the seventh son of a noble house, his family was not particularly affluent. All he inherited were his good looks, eloquent speech, and a limited amount of knowledge derived from a few books. But when it came to their practicality in navigating the tough world, they proved to be as effective as their respective order suggested.
During his roaming travels, he formed a connection with a woman from a village, which blossomed into intimacy. From there, he simply married and settled down.
He assumed various roles within the community, serving as a teacher to the children, a healer in times of need, and even a negotiator to resolve any village conflicts. It didn’t take long for him to integrate himself into the fabric of the village.
But the woman, his wife, was afflicted with a prolonged illness. After giving birth, her condition only continued to deteriorate. Even the limited knowledge he had acquired from his readings wasn’t enough to save her. Grief cast a looming shadow over them, ever approaching, never receding.
Then on one cold, snowy night, the girl’s mother spilled her blood onto a heap of snow. Her father’s bitter wail was carried away by the fierce wind.
It was from that point onward that her father started dabbling with corpses. Initially, he kept his actions hidden from the girl, but after the death of her mother, who had tirelessly held the family together, the girl naturally assumed her role. So it didn’t take long for her to notice her father’s peculiar behavior.
Understandably, she was afraid of him at first. Witnessing him dissect and dismember the dead was a jarring experience, even for family. However, the girl suppressed her emotions and stood by his side. She couldn’t abandon her only remaining family member.
As time went on, the girl started assisting her father. Was it because of her tender age or her upbringing under such a man? Since then, her perspective began to change, little by little.
Despite his eccentric dissections of corpses, her father was a remarkable adult. He cared for the injured, healed them, and earned respect from the people. Although he came into contact with more dead bodies than anyone else, he had never actually taken a life. Rather, he saved lives.
Unearthing corpses was a grave crime, one that could easily brand him as a servant of the devil. But if it meant saving people from certain death… After all, dead bodies served no purpose other than becoming fodder for wild animals or succumbing to the ravages of insects and fungi. If her father could employ them to rescue those on the brink of demise, who had the right to condemn him?
It was during this period that the girl realized her ability to control blood, and became more than an assistant to her father. She became an equal colleague.
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