The Legend of Sir Damon

by on February 4th, 2011
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‘Twas the night before Halloween, and of all the campus, six lucky little students got the chance of a life time…

From fall’s setting sun, orange evening light poured into the common room. Sitting, leaning, and laying on the assorted couches and chairs were six friends who all had won a contest hosted by their school.

“What kind of college has a crypt in their main office building? That is just weird and wrong!” Tom protested as he paced in the center of the room.

“Relax, Tom,” Rachel replied in a tone that suggested she did not really care about his stress levels. She was lying down and staring at the center table where a collection of six backpacks had been gathered.

“You got me into this!” Tom snapped back. In his defense, it was true.

“We thought you would enjoy it,” Rachel said before exchanging grins with Lily who was leaning against her couch.

“Lies!” Tom barked back, exaggerating the word to a dramatic yet comical level. The other five friends smiled at his ridiculousness.

“So what is the story about Damon?” James asked. He and his fellow first year friend Sam were sitting on the couch opposite Rachel’s, so it was easy for him to look questioning at her and Lily rather than Tom. “I know I heard about him while touring, but it’s been a while.”

“Oh, boy,” Lily replied.

“That’s a big question, James,” Rachel answered. “I don’t think you know how big.” James and Sam exchanged looks of pure bewilderment while the upperclassman sniggered. “Will, why don’t you take this one?”

Collectively, the other five turned to Will who was sitting comfortably in a large chair to the side of the facing couches. He had been stoic and silent until now, but he could not stop the corner of his mouth from curling into a grin.

“Wait, do you all not know the story?” James asked. His eyes darted between Tom, Rachel, and Lily who only laughed more.

“No, no,” Rachel began. “We know the story, but it’s just that Will tells it so well.”

“Yeah,” Lily added. “Have you never heard him tell a story? Or what did he call it?” She turned to Rachel who gave her a weird look for an instant before smiling as a memory dawned in her eyes. “You never heard him ‘spin his yarns’?” The two girls erupted into laughter that only confused and isolated the first years even more.

“No, in all seriousness, he is the best at telling this story,” Rachel added after she and Lily were able to calm down.

“Are you done?” Will asked.

He was greeted with a unison “Yes.”

“Ok,” Will began spinning his yarn. “Our school was founded around the dawn of the 18th century. The Brothers of Saint Merton had founded a monastery deep in the heart of the forested wilderness of Indian Territory. However, being this deep in the woods cuts you off from the colonial traders, so the brothers took to trading with the local Indian tribes. Slowly fur traders began to use the monastery as a trading post. A small town formed, and when Sir Damon needed a place to hide, he came here to Arbor Hollow and greatly influenced our school’s founders.

“Now the situation that forced Sir Damon to abandon his family in Europe and flee into the wilderness of the New World is a strange one, so let’s start from the beginning. Sir Gregory Damon was born into a family of mixed blood, but baptized in his French mother’s Catholic faith. One evening, after he received his First Communion, Damon was visited by a specter sprite.”

“You memorized all of this?” James interjected. His outburst was received with shushing from Rachel, Lily, and Tom. Sam was silent but smiled at his friend’s misfortune.

“Anyway, after the sun had set but before the light faded completely, Damon saw a little spirit. It was only about a foot tall, but had a wide-brim hat with a long point that extended his height by a few inches. His clothes were ragged, and his shoes pointed. He kept his eyes blocked by the brim of the hat, so Damon never got a good look at his face. However, he was holding a long pole that arced up and out holding aloft a small lantern giving off an eerie blue light.

“Damon questioned who it was, and the little ghost replied Imago. Then Damon questioned what it wanted, and it said it was there to see him, the little boy, of all things. The sprite then told Damon that he would meet his true love on the day he would be knighted, and that both he and his lover would live forever.”

“Isn’t he dead?” Sam whispered to James.

“Yea,” his friend said, but louder and directed at the upperclassman. “He didn’t live forever. He’s dead. We’re going to stay the night in his tomb.”

“Come on, guys,” Lily said. “Just listen.”

“As I was saying,” Will continued while regaining his storyteller composure. “Now the Damon’s family moved to Spain where Gregory grew up. His family was rich nobles with influences in many countries, so they were welcomed into the courts at Spain. When he was older, Damon met and befriended a respectable advisor to the king. His name was Roberto Skeller, and he was well informed with many spies for him across Europe. Damon looked up to Skeller, and Skeller taught Damon in the ways of information brokering. However, Damon soon learned of a plot by Skeller to kill the Spanish king and his heirs and supplant his own men on the throne. After hearing how Skeller could be so cruel, Damon went and informed the king. Ignoring their past friendship, Damon watched as Skeller and his associates were hung for crimes against the monarchy. In gratitude, the king made Damon a knight.”

“Wait,” Sam interjected again. “I thought Skeller was supposed to be a-“

“Sam!” This time it was Rachel who interjected. “Just listen. Shhhhh.”

Will continued: “After Damon became Sir Damon, there was a great feast, and that was when he saw her: Beatrice Carmen deBelle. She too was of mixed but royal blood. When Damon first laid eyes on her, he knew that was the woman Imago spoke of all those years ago.

“So, Damon courted her, and soon they were engaged. Two days before the wedding, Beatrice came down with a terrible sickness. The doctors were unhelpful, and she showed no signs of improving. Late on the night before the wedding, a doctor brought in by the king himself looked at Beatrice and told Damon that she was going to die, but the doctor knew of the only way to save her. Compelled by his love, Damon allowed the doctor to perform his procedure. The next day, Damon waited at the altar for his revived bride to come to him. She strode up the steps of the cathedral and was silhouetted against the morning sun shining in the doorway. Then she stepped into the church and began to scream. She was unable to enter without intense pain. Damon rushed to her side, but he was unable to help her. He pleaded the priest to perform the ceremony outside, but then she began to complain about the sun. Only then did Damon notice the two bite marks on her neck. She had been bitten and turned into a vampire!”

“Really?” James interrupted again. Instead of the general shushing, James received glares from everyone except for Will. Even Sam shot him a harmful look.

“Anyway,” Will said, regaining the group’s attention. “Damon took Beatrice to his home where he hid her from the sun. Then he searched for the doctor to try to figure out what happened. When he was unable to find the medicine man, Damon returned home to find Skeller, the man he saw hang, sitting in the chair that he had left his wife. Skeller informed Damon that it was he who turned his wife and that Skeller had become a vampire shortly before his hanging in order to survive. Then Skeller told him how he had kidnapped his wife. In a fury of anger, Damon rushed Skeller, but the vampire turned into a cloud of bats and escaped. From that point on, Sir Damon devoted his existence to finding Skeller and Beatrice and returning his wife to normal.

“He chased them to America, which was still simple English colonies at the time. When Damon arrived in the little port of Haze Harbor, Skeller had already taken control of the town. The hundreds of town’s people had been turned and served the accursed man as faithful followers. Damon spent only a few days in the town before fleeing in the early morning, heading deeper into the new continent and farther away from Skeller’s forces. The tables had turned and now Damon was on the run.

“Finally, it was here in sleepy Arbor Hollow where Damon made his last stand. He rallied the town’s brightest minds and set a trap for Skeller. Today, no one is sure of what the trap exactly was. The legends are vague or contradictory on this part, but it is certain that during this trap Damon was close to killing Skeller. The details of how this event came about are vague, but let’s just imagine that Damon has Skeller backed into a corner with a stake at his heart.

“Just before Damon’s triumphant and long awaited kill of his once friend and hated enemy, Beatrice flew into the battle and begs her lover to stop and spare Skeller his undead life! But Damon refused. He stabbed Skeller through his blackened heart and turned him to dust. With the death of their leader, Skeller’s forces fled from Damon and Arbor Hollow’s vampire hunters, except for one. Beatrice turned into a creature of pure anger and revealed the true powers of the vampires. She killed her husband and escaped from the vampire hunters.

“Oh my God,” James said with a slightly tilted head and dropped jaw. Rachel and Lily gave him stern looks but let Will resume his story without further interruption.

“With Damon dead, his friends and vampire hunters simply returned their town to normal but did not continue his crusade to save Beatrice’s eternal soul. These hunters became the founders of our very own Hollow College. They laid their friend and hero to rest in the first building on campus, and to this day we honor Sir Gregory Damon and his contributions to our town.

“Many years after Skeller and Damon’s death, the founding professors were walking around their campus late one evening. Like all old friends do, they discussed the exciting moments of their lives and how time had marched on. Beatrice or any other of Skeller’s vampires had not been seen in Arbor Hollow for decades. As the founders were walking along on the quad, they all turned to see the statue of Damon erected in the center of the lawn. On that cold, moonlit night, the old friends could see two figures by the statue. One was a man while the other was a tiny sprite sitting on the statue with a lantern held aloft on a pole. We know this ghostly visitor to be Imago, and the founders knew the man as their old friend Sir Damon. The founders could not help but stop and stare as the two ghosts conversed. Then as the clouds briefly blocked out the moon for only a moment, the two specters disappeared.

“Since that fateful night on the Hollow’s quad, Damon’s spirit has been seen every few years. It seems no one graduates from here without hearing some story about Sir Damon wandering campus. Imago has not been seen since, but his prophecy has held true, in a way. Damon continues to walk this earth, as does his beloved Beatrice. One walks as a ghost, and the other as a vampire. It is said that Damon will continue to haunt this earth until he is able to lay Beatrice to rest, completing his vows that he made the day Skeller took her away.”

“But she killed him,” Sam said, speaking for only the third time since entering the commons. “Why is he still trying to save her?”

“Because he is in love with her!” Rachel and Lily reply in unison.

“I definitely want a guy to come back from the grave to save me,” Lily added. “But back from the dead in a good way.”

“I so want to be saved by a ghost lover,” Rachel said while holding back a laugh.

Tom and Will exchange sympathetic looks with each other. They have been through enough of the girls’ crazy adventures to understand how the other was feeling. A more philosophical author would comment about the bonds formed while weathering ordeals, but I really do not have time for it.

“So, no one really knows what the trap was?” Tom asked returning focus to the story. “How could they trap Skeller?”

“That’s the mystery,” Will answered. “I can only guess at what they did, but the founders of our school and a vampire hunter seeking revenge for many years came across this plan, so I would imagine it would be something I can’t even fathom.”

“Wouldn’t it be hilarious if it was simple though?” Rachel asked. “Like if it was only, um; actually I can’t even come up with a simple vampire trap.”

“Does it really matter?” James reminded the group. “It was only a story, and not a believable one at that.”

“It’s still fun to imagine it as a true story, though,” Tom said. He was supported by silent nods from the rest of the group.

“Suspension of disbelief,” Will quietly added. With the story freshly hanging on their minds, the friends sat in silence as each contemplated the legend of Sir Damon and Roberto Skeller.

The door to the commons opened and an older member of the student council walked into the room. She looked at the silent six before asking, “Are you Rachel and company?” After the group agreed, she continued, “Okay then, you may grab your stuff and follow me.” She waited until everyone picked up their backpacks from around the center table and led them out the door.

The campus was still aglow in the fading light of the October sun. The friends followed the older student across the street where the Clarke Administration Building stood, a simple block decorated with small, Greco-Roman columns. Will looked to the sky which too had decided to bathe in the sun’s light, changing from the usual blue to warm colors of orange and red. On the edge of the horizon, beyond the approaching Clarke building, were rolling, dark, storm clouds. An arc of lightning stretched along the billows, and a moment later a roaring thunder greeted the friends. A wicked storm was coming their way.

The senior led all six students up the front steps and into ancient building. Inside, there was a half flight of stairs that took the college visitors up but these brave souls down. In the faint light of the lower hallway, the friends could see the door to the crypt on the far side. The senior casually opened the door and allowed the friends to enter the dark room. Only a single, electric lantern sat on the floor in the dead center illuminating the surrounding stone floor. “We will be back for you in the morning,” the senior said with a smile as she shut and sealed the crypt.

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