8 February, 1916


8 February, 1916

To my good friend Captain “Peter Hawkins”, as you insist on calling yourself, by care of The War Office,

I hope this letter finds you well and in good health. I am glad to hear from your last letter that all is well with the young Master William and I wish him the best of luck with his new position. I apologize for my lack of earlier communication, but my flight from Montenegro on the heels of the invading Austrians necessitated my silence. I am safe at the camp for the Serbian Army on the island of Corfu. Sanitation here is poor, and Cholera is running rampant.

Among the soldiers here, I have made an acquaintance of sorts, Lt Peter Kadijević. In our conversations, I mentioned my folklorist background, and Lt Kadijević told me of a local folk character of his local village. I would classify his tale as a Vampir story most typical of the region, a local peasant who had in life shunned the church and even served as a scout for the Turks. He was murdered by a rival of his over the hand of a local maiden, and returned from the dead to kill his murderer, draining his blood in the process. He then tried to gain entrance to the maiden’s house, but her grandmother kept him off, telling him to “come back tomorrow, and I’ll have some salt for you”. The exact meaning of this phrase is unknown, but it worked, and the next day, the townspeople exhumed the man to find his body bloated and teeth grown sharp. They drove a hawthorne stake through his heart and cut off his head.

I am unsure if this tale will be of any use to our esteemed colleagues, but my capacity as folklorist is severely limited by enemy occupation. I understand that our agent in Rumania recently uncovered something of great significance before we lost contact with him. The soldiers say that there are mountain passes the Bulgarians and Austrians could not possibly guard all at once, and a shrewd few men could secure their way through enemy territory to Rumania. I suggest this course of action for myself and a few handpicked Serbian men here on Corfu.

All the leads on this side of the peninsula are centuries dead, and we need eyes in the key region of Rumania. Not only are we engaged with coaxing the Rumanians to our side, but it is understood that there are rumors Count De Ville has been spotted along the boarder with Austria-Hungary. I will await your orders.

Lord Cyril Blathing, 7th Earl of Gavilshire

PS, give my love to my daughter Penelope and her husband Robert. Tell them I anticipate meeting my granddaughter when I return.

8 February, 1916

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