The Mystery of the Blood Red Moon, by Kirk Grech
It is said that a town, which sleeps by daylight and works by moonlight, lies on the border of the Transylvanian region.
As if it’s cut into its own pocket of time, cut off from the rest of society, this town is utterly self-sufficient. No trade whatsoever exists between any other towns or cities. Rather; they grow their own crop; rear their own livestock; and collect water from the rain or from the river Olt. One can say it is literally a dark town for no electricity exists in this place; the moonlight guides their nightly chores.
Unlike most of the Romanian country, the people in this town are not of Orthodox Religion. Rather, they worship the moon and look to it for guidance and aid whenever necessary. The people in this town enjoy bathing in the moon’s chilly embrace and scorn the warm hug of the sun. The only red sphere in the sky they accept is The Blood Red Moon; a moon which is said to appear once every century.
Yet, despite the fact that a century has passed since its last sighting, the blood red moon is nowhere to be seen. Thankfully, a lone man and his faithful dog happen upon the strange and mystical town of Dracourt. They vow to aid the inhabitants with solving their peculiar mystery.
The lone man enters the tavern which was only lit by candlelight. He instructs Karshin to stay outside. Once inside, he sits at the bar and orders a beer. The tavern owner looks him up and down with a questioning glance, hands him his beer and questions, “You’re not from these whereabouts, are you? Whatever could be your name? And what business do you have here?”
The lone man sips his beer as the tavern owner asks him these questions and simply answers in a quick manner, “No. Alden. Mystery of ‘The Blood Red Moon’”
The tavern owner claps his hands together and bows in an apologetic manner. “Oh please excuse me, I didn’t mean to offend ye, it is just strange to have travellers here is all.”
Alden chugs down his beer and puts the money needed on the counter. “It’s okay. Keep the change.” By this time, his tone is frigid. Alden gets up, leaves the tavern, and starts to walk further into town. “Karshin! Follow!” Karshin looks at Alden for a moment, smiles and does as instructed.
While in the heart of the town Alden goes from door to door, asking questions about the strange disappearance of the blood red moon. However, no one tells him anything of importance related to the mystery. The only information he hears, over and over again, is how important the blood red moon is to the town. With every repetition of the same information, Alden feels a strong ache at the side of his head like a drill, as if the information which he is given is trying to burrow its way into his skull and into his brain, slowly turning him into a mindless wretch who only accepts the moon.
While Alden is speaking with the townsfolk, Karshin remains by his side, listening intently. However, unlike Alden, Karshin is unaffected by the repetition of this information.
With just one house left to ask, Alden begrudgingly knocks on the door, fully expecting to hear the exact same information and the exact same story which he has already heard. However, to his surprise, what he finds instead is a mother with red, puffy eyes and tears streaming down her face. “What happened?” Alden asks, clearly perplexed.
“My child!” The woman bellows, “They took my child! Into the Monastery! Please! They mean to kill my child!”
With this news Karshin growls and dashes towards the Monastery, his white figure only seen whenever he passes through candlelight. Alden starts running after his faithful companion, a million thoughts swimming around in the sea of his mind as to why Karshin had run off the way he did. These thoughts only serve to make the ache in his head worse. Instead of a drill, it is now like a chainsaw cutting across his forehead and splitting his head in two. In spite of this, Alden carries on.
As Karshin enters the Monastery, the scream of a child rings throughout its walls, making Karshin bark vigorously.
The eerie combination of sounds propels Alden into the monastery, but silence falls as he steps inside and he freezes at the entrance. The ache in his head subsides, fading away into the moonlight.
A young child stands upright, a spear going up his rectum and jutting out of his mouth. A pool of crimson liquid is directly beneath the child, fresh and pure as can be. Alden staggers towards the child, only then realising that there is a Moon Priest standing at the altar with a goblet full of crimson liquid.
As Alden steps closer, he realises that the Moon Priest is praying in a language unbeknownst to him;
O, sânge lună roșie te implor
întoarce-te la noi și dă-ne binecuvântarea ta
dacă mai ești în viață
fă ca lichidul roșu din acest pahar să strălucească cu harul tău veșnic
Once the prayer was done, the crimson liquid started glowing red and the Moon Priest let out a cheerful cry. “Încăînviață! Încăînviață! Luna roșie a sângeluiesteîncăînviață!”
Karshin promptly jumps onto the alter and spills the crimson liquid all over it, before starting to rigorously lap it up. The Moon Priest screams in rage and hopelessness, fearing that the blood red moon will never appear to them again.
“Halt thy incessant cry!” Although Karshin’s bellow in unknown to both humans, he is easily understood by both.
“Dost thou not realise that thy prayer has worked? Is thou so blind to thy own machinations that dost doesn’t realise that thy is in the presence of the great Qamar? The same Qamar which why worship and looketh forward to every century?”
“Karshin?” Disbelief makes Alden’s voice faint; he must have been dozing somewhere, lost in dreams.
“Thy folly is truly astounding. Nay!” responds the white dog, his face and paws stained red with blood “I am called Qamar, I am what people in this town refer to as ‘Blood Red Moon’.”
Their eyes almost escape from their sockets as both Alden and the Moon Priest open their eyes wide, staring wordlessly at the dog. “How?” Alden asks with a tremor in his voice. “You were with me for years, always by my side. We went on adventures together; we saw the world together.”
Qamar chuckles, “Aye I did. For 100 years I had takeneth the form of a subservient dog, staying by the side of man, seeing how humans treat the land. However, I am not a dog, I am a god! And as a god, I am disappointed with how thy humans decideth to treat land given to thee by the gods! Abuse is everywhere! Livestock unloved, waters poisoned with oil, land stolen from nutrients. Thy humans should be punished for the way thy treated the land!” A blinding, crimson light erupted from Qamar’s body, and in the place of a dog now rested a bird with six crimson wings, a black beak and a white body.
Qamar bellowed once more, “Not all is lost. I shall giveth thee a year to reform thy factories, change thy ways and learn to appreciate the land which was borrowed unto thee. Fail to do so and you risk the destruction of the world. Fir without the moon there is no sun, without the sun there is no life, and without life there are no people. I will appear to thee exactly a year from now to pass judgment.”
Once the final word resonated from wall to wall, Qamar flapped his wings and a shimmering white light erupted from him. In what was once Qamar’s place stood nothing except the red light of the moon.
Alden looked up and saw the blood red moon retreating under the mountains as the sun rose and took the moon’s place. What could once have been described as a warm, relaxing feeling was now replaces with the feeling of dread.
The world’s timer had begun.