I am the Ancient, I am the Land. My beginning sare lost in the darkness of the past. I was the warrior, I was good and just. I thundered across the land like the wrath of a just god, but the war years and the killing years wore down my soul as the wind wears stone into sand.
All goodness slipped from my life; I found my youth and strength gone, and all I had left was death. My army settled in the valley of Barovia and took power over the people in the name of a just god, but with none of a god’s grace or justice.
I called for my family, long unseated from their ancient thrones, and brought them here to settle in the castle Ravenloft. They came with a younger brother of mine, Sergei. He was handsome and youthful. I hated him for both.
From the families of the valley, one spirit shone above all others. A rare beauty, who was called “perfection,” “joy,” and “treasure.” Her name was Tatyana, and I longed for her to be mine.
I loved her with all my heart. I loved her for her youth. I loved her for her joy. But she spurned me! “Old One” was my name to her – “elder” and “brother” also. Her heart went to Sergi. They were betrothed. The date was set.
With words she called me “brother,” but when I looked into her eyes they reflected another name – “death.” It was the death of the aged that she saw in me. She loved her youth and enjoyed it. I had squandered mine.
The death she saw in me turned her from me. And so I came to heat death, my death. My hate is very strong; I would not be called “death” so soon.
I made a pact with death, a pact of blood. On the day of the wedding, I killed Sergei, my brother. My pact was sealed with is blood.
I found Tatyana weeping in the garden east of the chapel. She fled from me. She would not let me explain, and a great anger swelled within me. She had to understand the pact I made for her. I pursued her. Finally, in despair, she flung herself from the walls of Ravenloft, and I watched everything I ever wanted fall from my grasp forever.
It was a thousand feet through the mists. No trace of her was ever found. Not even I know her final fate.
Arrows from the castle guards pierced me to my soul, but I did not die. Nor did I live. I became frozen, became “Vampyr,” forever.
- Excerpt from The Tome of Strahd