The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 5

Though the soldiers were thorough in their search of the surrounding terrain, they did miss one survivor. Wounded but not killed by Alles on the pedestal, Lipmon had managed to slip away. His slashed clothes clung along a long red diagonal wound across his chest and face that still bled, while he pressed his unwounded arm into it. After that first volley had trampled over him, he rolled away and dug himself into the edge of the tiny creek around the child’s throne. He’d crawled through the water, listening to the sound of his townspeople’s deaths and the spreading sound of fire, while the long diagonal wound Alles gave him gradually coagulated, the still water of the creek washing against it and slowly diffusing drips of blood leaking from him.

As he crawled away he’d closed his mind to the possibility that someone might catch sign of his painful effort and that all his struggle might come in vain. He’d ignored the hope that some of the other villagers clung to, that the soldiers might in fact take prisoners with them. He’d foreseen, correctly, that the soldiers were not interested in prisoners and had known that if they found him, they would kill him.

Putting some distance between him and the town, he finally climbed out of the creek into some thick underbrush at the base of an upward slope. The slope would take him in the direction he wanted to go, towards Orinda-forr, the nearest Fourth Order village he knew of, and he began to climb. He’d never been to Orinda-forr but he knew which direction to head: to put the sunset on his right, aim toward the Sling Pass, travel directly through the next valley toward the Orinda Pass which would lead him directly into the village.

While Lipmon crawled, still close enough to feel the warmth of the growing fires, he heard more sounds of men shouting orders in a distant and difficult to understand dialect through the crackling town. As the heat receded and he crawled on his stomach between bushes, the soldiers cleared up the last of the villagers and set fire to the last of its buildings.

As they began their feast he sped up his difficult crawl, knowing the only chance he’d have of surviving was to put distance between himself and those soldiers. But after they feasted they began searching through the underbrush and he heard feet striding through the bushes. The regular rhythm of swords and sticks sweeping through the bushes to look for hidden creatures was audible and only grew louder as they approached.

He froze in his progress as a pair of feet approached him, and he saw Lee’s leather-booted feet pierce through the under canopy of the underbrush just in front of him. A sword swept through the bush just beside him as he held his breath, but it just missed him, and the sound began to fade as Lee continued to scour in other directions in search of survivors.

After Lee passed by, Lipmon continued uphill unnoticed, crawling up toward the ridge. When he reached the top, he turned back to look at his smoldering village. Lipmon had a long, thin head with a long, thin neck. His mouth usually hung open with his eyes glazed over in a way that gave him a befuddled and absent look. This look was all the more pronounced as he watched his village burn.

Every building he’d known had been reduced to several small black piles of ash, still smoking from the last remnants of fire. The group of soldiers was walking en masse away from the village with what appeared to him to be the town’s only other survivor. A child that he could only guess was their beloved Tann, wrapped in a cloak was being carried away.

The helpless little boy of theirs, who’d been like a son to the whole town, who they’d worshipped, and to whom they would’ve given their last scrap of food that he might live was being taken. Lipmon wondered whether he’d see that young boy’s tender eyes again, which spoke so eloquently through Tann’s constant silence.

He turned his head forward and looked down into the next valley, which spread out longways before him. He resolved to head downslope, dig up some roots or maybe find some berries and continue walking, sleeping upslope on the far side of the valley and trying to pass through the Sling Pass in the following morning. He could travel most of the next valley the next day and pass into Orinda-forr at nightfall, if he could keep up his pace. All he knew was that he had to make it to Orinda-forr, and that he’d have to will his weak and injured body over two passes to achieve it.

<-- Go to Part 4         Go to Part 6 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 4

After the soldiers were feasted Alles approached the boy and looked over the quiet lump hidden inside the sack. “I’ve got to check one more thing before we go,” Alles announced out loud, “I need to hear him speak.”

“So far as I know, the boy’s a Sable-eye, his powers are only in his eyes,” Jesek said, “Anyone who looks into them is under his control. But I’ve never heard of a Sable that’s got two powers. Only his eyes can captivate.”

“We’ll need to be sure first,” Alles said.

“I don’t think the boy even talks,” said Imann, the soldier who’d been standing guard over him.

“I’ll get him to talk,” Alles said, now walking towards the boy. “You all keep out of earshot, and cover your ears,” Alles said to his soldiers as they retreated from him. He picked up the boy and walked him further out of earshot, shouting to his men as he receded, “If I do anything unusual, tie me up or something. This boy’s going to be impossible to deal with if he’s also a Sable-tongue.”

Alles set the boy down upon the ground as his men put their hands over their ears. He knelt down and got close to the boy and he spoke softly and father-like to the boy, “Do you have anything to say to me?” The boy sat motionless. “What’s your name? What’s your mother’s name? How old are you? How do you feel?” The boy gave still no response.

“As you can probably hear and smell, your village of Still Creek has been burning for some time. In fact, now, at this moment the village where you grew up and which contains all your memories and everyone you love, is ashes. Your family is surely dead, if they were among these people. And I’m the one responsible. Do you have anything to say to me? Some insult perhaps? Some unkind words?” Alles paused. The boy still said nothing.

“What’s your name boy? You do know your name?” Alles waited and the boy was silent. He touched the shape under the cloak and it felt like the same boy he’d first veiled on the pedestal. The boy did nothing at Alles’ touch except for turn its head towards him and reach a hand out to touch Alles’ hand, trying to grab his fingers from under the cloth.

“You do know how to speak don’t you? Do you say anything? My name is Alles. I am the one it is your duty to loathe. Maybe if you just want to scream angrily at me.” But the boy was still silent inside his black pouch. “Well if you don’t have a name, we’ll give you a name,” he said, now picking up the boy and walking him back toward his group. They stared closely at him, their hands still over their ears.

Alles spoke out loud, “The boy doesn’t speak. We’ll leave it at that. We needn’t worry about him, but we’ll give him a good buffer while we carry him. And I also want you to be wary of touching him, in case he may also be a Sable-touch. And definitely we must keep his eyes covered at all times. But before we go, I want a thorough search of the surrounding area, make sure no one has survived.”

Several soldiers walked off and scoured the areas around the village with no new discoveries. There were surrounding fields, but apparently the morning preparation for the boy kept them from their farming and everyone was in the village when they attacked. So far as Alles and his soldiers could tell there were no survivors, no witnesses to report the destruction of Still Creek-forr. The village had quietly disappeared and would be soon forgotten.

The soldiers grabbed some few livestock they could capture, then they walked as a group in the direction of the sunrise up and over the hill, which had concealed their initial arrival. They reached the stash of their supplies where several attendants and servants idled around quietly, consuming a meal of their own from the supplies.

A small, dark palanquin waited empty for the small boy. It was black, cushioned on the inside, and had two windows with narrow, angled slits so the boy could see out and no one could see in. They’d also added in a small slot through which to insert food. Two long poles were put through notches at the bottom of this enclosed chambers, and thereby four soldiers could lift the palanquin and carry it over the slopes and passes of the mountainscape through which they traveled.

Alles placed the boy inside the palanquin and unwrapped the cloak, while closing his eyes. He then slid the door in place and locked it with a large, wooden bar. “You’ll be safe in there,” Alles said to comfort the boy.

The party gathered itself, aimed itself in the direction from which it came and then departed up out of the valley towards the nearest pass.

<-- Go to Part 3         Go to Part 5 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 3

Silhouettes darted between the quickly fire-consumed homes: crying children, crying mothers and fathers and the soldiers that chased them. Livestock scattered through the streets and shapes lay themselves soundlessly down on the blood-soaked ground. Alles pulled the child’s head tightly against his chest to muffle the sound of the town’s collective shriek. The boy reached out and wrapped his arms around Alles’s neck, and Alles walked slowly towards the town.

Alles’ soldiers chased stragglers with their long rapiers, their small leather sheaths swinging freely at their sides and the neck coverings of their leather helmets bouncing with their running steps. Alles’ one female soldier, Annsi, stood before a line of townspeople — including men, women and children — kneeling with their backs to the inferno, and Annsi said to him, “These people have surrendered, what do you want me to do?”

“Harboring prisoners isn’t feasible, and I said, I don’t want any witnesses,” Alles said to her with the boy still clinging to his neck. Though the villagers could barely understand Alles and Annsi’s dialect, Alles leaned close to her ear and whispered, “See what they know about this boy, or if any of them knows his mother, then kill them.”

Alles walked away and Annsi asked them a few questions with visible trepidation in her voice. None of them spoke. She hesitated then she methodically kicked each one to the ground and drove her sword into each successive faceless back. She couldn’t help feeling the sting of each one of the murders she was forced to commit.

Alles howled orders to throw all the dead bodies they could into the hottest burning houses and some of the men who’d been wandering aimlessly looking for any more survivors suddenly became active dragging bodies into the hot cores of some of the highest flames. Alles howled orders to expedite some of the dying fires and to make sure this town was nothing but a pile of ashes quickly swept up by the wind when they were done. Some of them began to pull down the standing poles around the throne and use them to prod some of the burning houses. New torches were made and the fire was spread to the still uncharred sections of the village. The pedestal was stripped of its throne and its surrounding pedestal and these were given to the central fire. Rock scooped up the furs and took them as a souvenir.

Alles took the small boy that he’d been carrying around veiled the whole time and he tied him like a bundle in his cloak and rested him atop the former pedestal, leaving Imann to guard him while he continued ordering the soldiers around. The boy sat down inside his little sack without struggle and waited patiently.

The tables had been sufficiently undisturbed that most of the food was still edible, and, though men had been grabbing quick bites as they passed by it through all the bustle and fighting, there was still a small feast spread out on the tables.

Alles asked the men if they’d caught any livestock, and one of them, Lee, said ‘aye’ and pulled out a large goat with its legs tied, still struggling while he held it under his arm. The goat was set down before Alles, while Lee held it down. Alles grabbed the horns, held the neck back and cut the throat of the goat, catching the dripping blood in a bowl. The goat’s hind end was raised to facilitate the flow of the blood while it kicked out its last breath of life.

“As easy as our victory may have been, we’ve still got to thank Anan,” Alles said to his troops and he raised the bowl up to the sky and he said, “To the divinity, We thank you for this victory,” and behind him his fellow soldiers said their “thank you” with him. Alles then walked to the large pyre of the burning town and threw the blood and bowl together into the fire.

They then flayed and cut out the choicest organs, muscle and fat from the goat and skewered them over the now simmering cooking fires. Then Alles and Lee each took two feet of the remains of the goat, then they flung the goat into the heart of the burning village.

They quickly plunged meat and soup and berries and roots into their mouths while the town behind them burned and while the child sat quietly upon his pedestal waiting patiently beneath Alles’ cloak. They ate quickly since they had eaten poorly while they traveled and they were also in a hurry to leave.

<-- Go to Part 2         Go to Part 4 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 2

Elden gave Alles a hand to lead him. They moved a step forward and Alles bumped a shoulder on a post. They took another step, and Alles nearly tripped on the bottom stair. He felt the soft of a fur under his feet as they climbed a stairway. After a few steps, the man stopped.

Elden moved Alles’ hand forward to touch the hand of the boy, which was resting on an armrest. Alles clung tenderly and tightly to the hand of the young boy, which weakly gripped his in return. Alles then carefully moved his other hand forward until he touched the head of the boy. The boy’s hair was thick, dusty, disheveled and knotted.

As Alles heard the sound of Elden retreating a few steps back, he said quietly to the boy, “I want to take you out of here. Do you want to leave?” The boy was silent, but for many long moments Alles waited for him to respond.

“Well, even if you’re not going to respond, you better get ready anyways,” Alles whispered, “Because we’re going to leave.”

Then in one quick motion, with one hand still on the head of the boy, to gauge the boy’s position, Alles swept off his cloak and completely covered the boy inside of it, so that the boy’s face was submerged beneath it and the cloak covered him on all sides. Alles opened his eyes and raised his hand in a rapid wave towards the hills behind the boy. He then turned to look finally on the kindly voice, who now stared at him with wide, surprised eyes. Elden was tall and pale with a certain intensity in his eyes. Alles grabbed him and pushed him off of the pedestal with a strong, effortless shove. Elden fell down across the path of furs that led towards the throne, knocking over one of the standing posts that formed a circle around the pedestal. Each standing post was crowned with a small torch that poured black smoke skyward in thick dissipating strings. Just outside the circle a long table filled with food, flanked by the two cooking fires, stood between him and the frozen faces of the townsfolk, now looking at the exposed leather sheath hanging at his side and the bold brawn of the warrior on the pedestal besides their veiled child.

The first person to run towards Alles was a man named Lipmon, a short, skinny man with thin hair and an under-nourished hollow in his cheeks. Alles quickly unsheathed a thin, metal sword and slashed a gash across the chest and arms of the short, pallid figure in one seamless move. Elden quickly pulled himself up off the ground and shouted for the men to attack Alles as his debilitating shock suddenly transformed into rage. Several men lunged forward, shabbily dressed and equally as thin-armed and thin-chested as Lipmon. Alles thrust cleanly through the belly of the fastest, kicking him away and then turned, scooping up the child.

Alles leapt from the pedestal and ran toward the hills holding the child gingerly in his strong arms while the tail of his cloak trailed behind as he ran. Alles moved toward a just now appearing band of soldiers—Lee, Sorn, Annsi, Solis, Orick, Rock, Imann and others—who ran at full speed towards the town. He shouted at them, “Wipe the town out! Kill all of them! I want no witnesses!” As he passed through them, they launched a volley of spears, which sprung as a cloud in the air and fell heavy on their targets, only a few spears landing in the dirt without being bloodied. Alles stopped to watch them fall upon the frightened townsfolk, who scrambled in a bleating disarray. The town’s unarmed foregaurd was swept aside with thrusts of red. The glowing crowns of fire were snatched from their pedestals and thrown onto the thatched grass roofs of the small wooden hovels.

Alles announced to them, “We must make it look like the town burned to the ground, and leave only dust behind. If the Fourth Order should ever discover we attacked one of their towns and kidnapped one of its citizens, the retaliation would be severe.”

<-- Go to Part 1         Go to Part 3 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 1

Alles wiped some morning dew from the shoulders of his cloak, returned his stick to its position in front of him, bowed his head, and continued moving forward into the valley. Gravity pointed his feet toward the bottom of the valley where a handful of tiny homes were clumped together besides a creek. The sensation of the changing of the texture of the ground signaled to him that he was entering a village. Paths softened by foot traffic radiated outward into narrow fields around the small center and he could hear the increasing sounds of human life. The small village was alive with the bustle of daybreak preparations, and he heard the movement of many feet in many directions.

His steps led him to the center of the village where more and more people distinctly perceived the presence of this cloaked and hooded stranger. He could hear the pause of feet around and beside him. It wasn’t long before a certain quiet radiated around him and he sensed the eyes of the curious that watched while he continued his deliberate, persevering step.

A man stood beside him and tapped his shoulder, and Alles felt the tentative touch. The man spoke not quite loud enough for anyone besides Alles to hear: “Hello sir, I’d like to welcome you here. My name is Elden. Can I ask your business?”

Alles tried to disguise his accent and spoke hoarsely, “My names is Alles. I’ve come to meet the boy. This the home of the young prodigy isn’t it?”

There was a murmuring in the crowd. Elden spoke a little more loudly, but still cautiously, saying, “We don’t get that many visitors. No one really comes by this way, except outlaws and highwaymen. Has word of the boy really spread that far?”

“There are rumors. Some people are talking. They say the boy is special. They say he’s possessed of extraordinary powers,” Alles spoke loud enough for the few around him to hear, and they gave an almost unanimous groan of assent. One of them said, “He’s something special, but he’s nothing magical.” And another spoke, “We love that dear boy like a son.”

Elden spoke again and said, “You don’t sounds as if you’re from nearby. And you came all this way without your sight, only led by this stick?”

Alles replied, “I’m used to travelling long distances. I can hear, smell, touch. Meeting this child is very important to me. Perhaps he can help me.”

Elden spoke again, “We’ll let you meet him. We enjoy the company. But we’d rather that the boy’s reputation stays right here. We don’t have too many visitors. We’re part of the Fourth Order, though the Fourth Order protection barely reaches so far out here, which leaves us vulnerable.”

Alles merely said, “Thank you,” in his hoarse voice, and Elden gave him an arm to lead him, while Alles shuffled forward crouching over his stick. They led him to the center of the town, and he could hear the knock of wooden dishware on long wooden tables. Around him were small fires that crackled under attentive cooks, poking and prodding while the scent of food spread from above them. Alles was set down in front of one of the tables and the bustle of preparation continued near and around him.

Alles reached out to grab the arm of someone walking by and he asked, “Is it some special occasion today? If I am intruding, you needn’t be over-welcoming for my sake.”

The voice of a woman spoke out, “No, sir. No special occasion this morning. We’re providing for the child is all.” And then the possessor of the voice could be heard to walk away.

Alles waited for a few minutes and then a voice he recognized as Elden’s, asked him gently, close to his face, “Do you want to be taken to the boy now? I think we can let you. You can meet with him, perhaps even ask him a question before the breakfast gets started.” Elden waited for a response with his hand on Alles shoulder. Alles then turned his face with his closed eyes towards Elden and nodded.

<-- Go to Intro         Go to Part 2 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Aresan Clan Pt 0

I am starting a new serial novel, as announced. It is titled The Aresan Clan. I'll post the first part tonight. As before, posts will occur four days a week on Mon, Tue, Thu & Sat. I'll put all of the segments under the label "Aresan-Clan," so they should be available all together at this link.

Go to Part 1
You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vampire Wares Conclusion

I finished up with my last Vampire Wares segment yesterday.  In my opening statement I anticipated it would take 12 months, but it's been finished up in only 7.5 months.  That's because I actually started making my four-times-weekly segments longer than I first planned, originally thinking of getting them in under 400 words, then changing it to under 800 words (on the whole, they average about 776 words per segment).  Doing shorter segments is actually more difficult, and I don't think as satisfying for the reader.  So, it actually ended up being longer than I initially planned, though I finished more quickly.  I'll have a published ebook out in a few weeks.  It'll be more polished and slightly expanded, correcting the many errors I made, refining the language, and adding a bit more detail.

Next week I'll start on a new serial work: again four times a week at under 800 words.  I anticipate this one will last much longer, probably more than a year.  Assuming 750 words per segment, 4 segments a week and 52 weeks per year, that's over 156,000 words (520 pages at 300 words/page); so, it'll be big.  We'll see.  Hopefully I'll be coming back in 12 months with another sizable work completed.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 114

The crossbow bolt lodged itself in Lina’s upper arm, causing her to leap with surprise.  Andrei was a poor shot with the crossbow and had missed the opportunity for a fatal single shot.  After the bolt entered her, Lina was reminded of the great pain she had felt the last time she’d been shot.

The difference was that now she did not feel so helpless as she had before.  It only took her a moment to look out the door and identify the source of the arrow: an indeterminate shadow that stood just outside the room.  The first suspicion that crossed through her mind was that it was Suma, since she was the only one of the four of them not present in the room at the moment.  She ran towards the shadow and knocked it to the ground with her shoulders just as Andrei was firing off the second crossbow.  It harmlessly soared over her head as Andrei was knocked backwards.  She pinned and restrained him on the ground with her knees and finally had a chance to see the face.

“Andrei?” She blurted out.

He looked up at her pathetically as she grabbed the arrow that was in her and pulled it out with a profound wince of pain, leaking some of her blood onto her arm and onto Andrei.

“Why are you here?” she asked, “Why are you shooting at me?”  Andrei struggled to breathe a bit under the great weight of Lina’s body pressed down against him, and he gave her no response, keeping his mouth stubbornly closed.

“Something’s different,” she then noted.  She took several sniffs, leaning close to his body and taking in his aroma.  “You’re a vampire,” she said, “I can smell it.  You’re infected.”

“It’s true,” he nodded, the sad look on his face only intensifying.

“What are you doing here, then?”

“I’ve come to kill you, all of you,” Andrei admitted.  Bai and Suma were both hovering over Lina as he spoke, “It looks I’ve failed.”

“Why?” Suma on behalf of the others.

“To put an end to the infection,” he said, “I would’ve killed myself after I killed you all.  I have nothing but repugnance at the thought of living the rest of my life as a vampire.”

“What would happen, then, if we let you go now?” Lina asked.

“I’d kill you,” he admitted, “Or try at least.”

“Is there no way I can persuade you otherwise?” Lina asked.

Andrei shook his head, and Lina grew quiet and stared despondently at her two companions.  Neither of them knew Andrei as anything but the man who made and sold vampire wares, so for them, Lina’s emotions seemed inexplicable.  She didn’t appear to want to kill him.

After many long moments of hesitation she leaned down to bite his neck.  But she whispered something in his ear before she bit.  “I would’ve paid you back tenfold for what you’ve done for me,” she whispered, “If you could just join with us.”

She still waited for him to say something, but he remained silent, so she finally opened her mouth and bit.  She drained and drank the blood, while Bai and Suma looked on.  Andrei groaned with pain at the first bite, but as his body was sapped, he settled into death, eventually closing his eyes and passing into unconsciousness.

Lina cut herself off in the middle of the process, realizing that she should share her boon, and dragged the still living body to Sim’s bedside.  She woke Sim from a slumber and coaxed him to take a drink fresh from Andrei’s neck.  It took him a moment to realize who he was drinking from, and he finally pulled away and looked at the face, saying, “Andrei?  How did you get him here?”

Lina let Suma and Bai finish Andrei off, and finally the deceased corpse was handed over to Suma, who began to prepare it for processing.

“It’s not a bad way to go is it?” Lina asked to no one in particular, “To die by having your blood drained.  Probably something like drifting off into sleep.”

As Suma stripped off Andrei’s clothes and shaved off the hair, Lina asked her, “How much food do we have?  I mean, how long will it last the four of us?”

“If it was the whole coven of sixty-one vampires, what we have might last three or four weeks.  So, I would imagine that, for just the four of us, it would last a year or more.”

“Then what?” Lina asked.

“That’s a long way off,” Suma said, laughing slightly, “We needn’t worry about that for a while.”

“We’ll have to do something for food then.  What’ll we do?” Lina repeated her question.

“I suppose we’ll have to hunt for more food,” Suma said.  Lina nodded in agreement as she returned to Sim’s bedside and to the process of nursing him back to health.

Ileana made no effort to search for her husband when she found him missing the next day.  On his own, Anton tracked Andrei’s path through the woods, but when he saw Andrei’s footprints descending into the cave, he pursued no further.

They both attended the funeral for Vasile and the other soldiers and both got their chance to say goodbye.  They lay Vasile’s remaining weapons with his body, a longbow with arrows resting on top of his body, a crossbow at his feet and a dagger beside him.  After solemn words, they carried the four coffins down into the crypt.  The four coffins were pushed into separate slots within the walls of the crypt beside other former members of the convent, where they would be left to wait until the Second Coming of Christ, their names and dates chiseled into the stone

Ileana never remarried, but she was joined by Nicoleta, who left the convent and was adopted into Ileana’s household.  She brought in Anton as a business partner.  Their first step was to liquidate their stock of vampire wares as fast as possible, and remove the “Apothecary and Vampire Wares” sign that swung in front of the shop and replace it with a smaller sign that simply read “Apothecary.”


<-- Go to Part 113         Go to Postscript -->

You can see what's been written collected here.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 113

Andrei turned back to say his last goodbye to his home and business.  The solid stone walls and sturdy new back door stood like a bulwark against the night, with the moonlight reflected off of the stones.  After a moment’s look he turned around and walked into the forest.

He had learned from Anton and Vasile approximately where the coven was located, and he strode in that direction, slowly passing through the trees.  He could feel the last remnants of sickness leaving his body as he breathed in the cool air of the night, and he basked in the darkness.

After a long walk through the woods, he arrived at the crater.  He stood at the edge and looked inside.  Aside from the obvious destruction – the hole in the ground and the fallen columns and fractured walls – there were few remnants of the battle that had taken place: some arrows and crossbow bolts lay on the ground next to bullet holes and bloodstains, but there were no bodies.  All the bodies had been cleared away, making it look like a somewhat deathless battle.

Andrei found the entrance that led down into the coven.  He didn’t know if he would find the remaining vampires there, though he suspected that there weren’t any other caves of sufficient size for more than fifty leagues from here, meaning the vampires would be unlikely to try to go anywhere else.

He entered the remnants of the Great Hall, which was now bathed in moonlight and still bore traces of its former splendor.  He stole a torch from one of the walls and was able to light it using a small fire he built on the floor.  Entering the hall, he was presented with the line of doors inset into the wall.  One after another he opened each door, inspected it to make sure no vampires were hiding inside, and then moved on to the next.

The vampire’s wealth was on clear display in these rooms: the luxurious beds, the beautiful decorations and the elegant furniture.  He didn’t know for sure, but could only assume that these fineries were the result of generations of raids, stealing the wealth of the wealthy, perhaps in exchange for (or in addition to) their blood.  But Andrei found no vampires in these rooms.  In fact, most of them looked undisturbed, as if the occupant was simply stepping out for a few moments and would be returning shortly.

When Andrei finally arrived at the barred room, he realized that this must be where the humans were kept.  He entered the kitchen, which was empty and looked like an unremarkable room.  He saw the door to the pen, and fortunately found it unlocked.

What opened up for him on the other side were only more caves, extending further and deeper into the underground. The quality of the caves had clearly changed.  For one, the smell was not as pleasant, and for another the caves appeared poor and dirty.

He continued walking cautiously, though now the caves began to branch out in multiple directions, and it became more difficult to follow where he was.  He realized that he would have to mark his way.  He used a stone to mark on the floor with an X sections he’d travelled through, and marked arrows on the wall to indicate which passages he’d travelled down.  He quickly discovered, he was walking around in circles, as rooms connected back to other rooms which connected back to the first via branching passages that led back to where he’d arrived from.  It took a great many trials and wanderings before he was able to narrow down the places where he’d been and find new rooms to explore.

But his explorations were successful, and he finally saw a dim light in the distance.  He snuffed his torch and walked in the direction of the light.  His eyes were surprisingly capable in the darkness, and as he was able to see everything clearly even in the light of a distant candle.

He tiptoed slowly, raising one of his crossbows in preparation.  He turned a corner and could see the candlelight through the open doorway of a room.  He walked to the doorway as quietly as possible, and once the interior of the room became visible, he could see the unmistakable form of three vampires inside talking with one another.

Two of the vampires he could only see obliquely, but he had a clear view of Lina, who was assisting one vampire who was lying on the bed and speaking with another.

Andrei decided to kill Lina first, since she was the one he least wanted to kill.  Better to do the hardest task first.  So he pointed his crossbow at Lina, took aim and let the bolt fly.

<-- Go to Part 112         Go to Part 114 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 112

Anton looked at the mass of gold and asked, “Do you expect me to carry this all out of here?  I couldn’t even pick it up.”

“No, we’ll keep it here for the time being,” Ileana said, “But it belongs to you.  Take what you need right now.”

Anton held back, unwilling to touch the money, unwilling even to approach it.  Ileana told him, “I expect you — I implore you — to use that money well.  Really do something with that money.  Figure out a way to buy your way out of serfdom.  Acquire your own land.  Make Vasile’s money truly valuable.  Do as much as you can.”

Anton finally picked up a coin and inspected it.  “How can I thank you?” Anton asked.

“Thank Vasile,” she emphasized, “When you say goodbye to him at the funeral tomorrow, thank him, and thank him for us too, should we be unable to come.”

After Anton left, Ileana returned to Andrei’s side, taking his hand in hers and watching him closely as he lay in the bed with his eyes closed.  He was trying to sleep, unsuccessfully.  It appeared he was succeeding, as she could see his muscles relaxing, his body sinking into the bed, and his breathing starting to slow.  His muscles even began to spasm in hypnic jerks, but only moments later he was awake again, and saying in a drowsy voice, “Ileana.”

“I’m here,” she said grabbing his hand, while the two of them stared into each other’s eyes.  After a long pause, Ileana worked up the courage to ask her husband, “I hope you didn’t mean to imply back there that you want to end your life because of the infection?  That’s not what you meant did you?”

“No, it wouldn’t do just to end my life, so long as Lina and the others still live,” Andrei replied, “It’s just a waste.  No, if I’m going to end my life, I’m going to take them with me.”

“Stop talking like this!” Ileana insisted, “Andrei I’ll stay with you.  As a vampire or not, I’ll be there for you.  I’ll give you what you need.  I’ll live in the darkness for you.  I’ll swear off the sun forever.  I’ll bleed for you.  I don’t care.  We’ll live together.”

“But I’ll eventually infect you.  It can’t be avoided if we’re together.”

“Then infect me.  Just do it now.  Get it over with,” Ileana told him, exasperated, “We’ll both be vampires.  All the more life for you and me together.  We can grow to be a thousand years old together.”

“You don’t know what you’re saying!” Andrei shouted at her, “This is a choice you cannot go back on.  I won’t let you.”

“Well, it’s not your choice to make,” Ileana snapped, “I’ll make it for myself.”

“You’re not listening to me.  I want the infection to end.  I want to kill the last of the vampires and enter the afterlife with them.”

“Then take me with you there,” she pleaded

“No, no,” he shook his head furiously, “No, you have a whole life ahead of you to live.  You don’t know what you’re saying.”

“A life without you,” she said, the tears welling within her eyelids.  As she blinked, tears poured over down her cheeks and she took his hand and squeezed it even more firmly.

After the sun sank over the horizon and the stars appeared in the sky and the candle that Ileana kept by Andrei’s bedside so that she might keep her all-night vigil beside him had burned down to its nub, Ileana finally began to drift off into sleep.  She sat in a chair beside the bed, and as the night wore on and a day of attentive worrying took its tool, she sank into the chair and fell asleep.

Andrei could hear her quiet snore, and he took the opportunity to quietly, slip out of bed, sliding across the bed beneath the sheets and touching his feet quietly to the ground.  He grabbed some clothing from his wardrobe, gave his wife one last kiss and tiptoed downstairs.

He still felt some of the weakness of illness, and decided to raid his stash of vampire wares to fortify himself, sneaking into his own store and grabbing several containers off the shelf.  He wolfed down all he could stuff into his mouth, with only a little bit of water to wash it down.  For reasons that seemed inexplicable to him, he actually enjoyed the taste.  Before the vampire wares were an unpleasant medicine he’d hold his nose and swallow down; now they tasted like an agreeable meal.

After that he put on a dark heavy cloak and found some of Vasile’s arms — two crossbows and two knives — and he took them with him as he walked out the back door of his shop.

<-- Go to Part 111         Go to Part 113 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 111

Anton came to visit Andrei’s again the next day.  He pounded on the door, and after a few minutes he heard Ileana shouting on the other side, “We’re closed!”

“It’s Anton,” he shouted back at her, “I’ve come to see Andrei.”

When she opened the door, her eyes were red with recent tears and her cheeks were pale and flushed.  She looked down at Anton, who told her, “Rumors have been flying around own about Andrei.  What’s going on?”

She ushered him in and closed the door, before telling him simply, “He’s sick.”

“Can I see him?” he asked.

“You probably shouldn’t,” Ileana said, but there was a shout from upstairs, calling out in a hoarse, hoary voice, “Bring the boy upstairs.”

When Andrei reached the top of the stairs and entered the bedroom, he found it in near darkness and saw Andrei in the bed beneath the sheets.

“Come sit here, dear boy,” Andrei ordered him, with a voice that had begun to take on the screeching quality of a vampire’s.

After Anton sat down, he said to Andrei, “Vasile’s dead.  I’m sorry to have to be the one to say this.”

“I feared as much,” Andrei admitted, “When he didn’t come to visit me after the battle, I suspected the worst.  It’s really too bad.  He was a good man, and a great hunter.”

“There’ll be a funeral for him and the other soldiers who died tomorrow in Terem.  It’d be great if you could come.  But I can see that you’re quite ill.”

“Not ill.  Not exactly.  I’m becoming one of them, I think,” Andrei guiltily admitted, “Did we kill them all?  Every last one of them.”

“Yes,” Anton nodded, “Though we spared Lina, and a few of her companions.”

Andrei frowned, “How many?”

“I think two others besides her,” Anton said, “They’re friends of Lina, so we needn’t worry about them.”

Andrei pounded his hands on the bed several times, thrashing about in great frustration as if he was in a fit.  All the while, he shouted, “No, no, no.”  Ileana stepped forward and grabbed hold of him to calm him down, taking his hand and touching his forehead, while she soothingly whispered, “Shhh, shhh, my dear.  Calm.”

After Andrei settled down, his heart still palpitated quickly and sweat poured from his pores.  His pale skin red with heat, he sat up in bed, breathing heavily and said to Anton, “It’s not the vampires that are the problem.  It’s the infection.  It spreads.  Even if some of them die, it still spreads and grows.  I don’t want to have to kill Lina after all she’s done for us, but I want the infection to be killed.  Now it’s got me.  And whom will I infect?  I don’t want it to go any further.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Ileana urged, rubbing his hand affectionately.

“I think it’s best I go now, sir,” Anton said, now standing up.

“One more thing before you go,” Andrei added, and he turned to Ileana and said, “Vasile’s hoard.”  Looking at Anton again, he explained, “He wanted you to have it, should something like this happen.  And, well, since it has happened, then it’s now yours.”

Ileana led Anton downstairs to the workroom, and then took him aside to a small closet.  Hanging on a hook on the wall was a metal ring, with a round protrusion like a crude key sticking out at one end.  She took the ring and stuck the protrusion in a small hole in a large flagstone that was among the several stones that comprised the floor.  Turning the ring half a turn, it became a handle, which could be used to lift the stone.

“Cornel designed this for us,” Ileana noted, asking Andrei, “If you could.  The stone’s quite heavy.”

Anton understood and grabbed the ring to pull the large stone from the floor and set it down to the side.  A few other stones beside it also had to be lifted and put aside, exposing a broad trap door beneath the stones.  Ileana opened the trap door, which lifted a cloud of dust as she swung it open and let out a moldy cool air from below.  She led the way, by climbing down a ladder into the space with a candle in hand.  Alone she nearly filled the tight space, and once Anton was beside her, they were cramped, their shoulders bumping against the cobbled stones that formed the walls.  The walls were round, like the interior of a well, and Anton suspected that Andrei must have filled in an old well to make this space.

“It’s hard to imagine how long it seemed when Nicoleta and I were down here while you and the others were defending the place from the vampire attack.  As you can see it’s quite narrow,” Ileana said.

On one side of the room was a metal door, with a single keyhole that Ileana filled with a key she drew from her pocket.  Swinging the door open, she exposed a small, low-ceilinged room filled with gold.  Crates and bags of gold coins lined the walls, and a stack of gold bars stood high in one corner.  She pointed to a chest by the door brimming with coins and said, “That’s Vasile’s gold.”

<-- Go to Part 110         Go to Part 112 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 110

Anton ran all the way home with Constanta on his shoulders.  The rest of the crowd, as well as his father, lagged behind.  When he got to his home, his mother was out in the fields.

When she saw Anton and Constanta jogging towards her, she ran out to greet her children.  She shouted the name of her daughter with arms outstretched, until Anton finally placed her daughter into her arms and she could hug her until her muscles ached and her eyes hurt with crying.

“Where’s your father?” Viorica asked.

“The old man’s slow,” Anton laughed, “He’ll be here in a few minutes.”

She breathed a sigh of relief and then took to her daughter inside, ready to pamper her with every indulgence, and thinking that she would never let the girl go further than an arm’s breadth away from her as long as she should live.

Shortly thereafter Anton went to visit Andrei to tell him the good and the bad of the day’s events, but when he went to visit the quiet shop and pounded on the door, there was no one there to answer.  When he asked around, no one had seen Andrei all day.

As the rest of the crowd arrived in Vallaya, many began to part ways, some heading for towns in other directions, some finding long-parted relatives in Vallaya whom they returned to amid tearful reunions.  The bulk headed in the direction of Terem, Flaviu and his soldiers leading the way, with many former residents of Terem following behind.  For a great many of those so long interred in the pen, they simply had no place to go or any family to find.  So, they followed the crowd to Terem, joining old friends from the pen, who promised to help them make the transition or simply hoping to find employment there.  Crina and Sorina had both been persuaded to follow Oana to the convent and take the veil, and they prepared themselves for a life of chastity and resignation.

As Sister Oana finally arrived back at the convent and entered through the gate, with numerous converts and refugees in tow, she boldly announced, “Sisters, I have returned.  And I have brought guests.”

A crowd built around her as work came to halt, and everyone wanted to hear her story of what had happened.  Oana couldn’t resist, and elaborated in full detail all she’d experienced and all she’d been told about what had happened elsewhere.  She stood in the middle of the courtyard amid a tightly-packed mass of people on all sides around her, who listened to her long oration.

“So, all the vampires are dead?” the voice of Ileana spoke out after she had finished.

“Yes, so we were told.  With the exception of Madalina.  Since she helped the soldiers with the attack and she’s friendly to us, so we needn’t worry about her at all.  For once, we can safely say, the vampire threat is finished for good, forever, and until the end of days.”

Ileana saddled her horse, soon after Oana’s return.  “Thank you for your hospitality,” she told Sister Elisabeta, “It’s time to be back with my husband.  I’ve missed him these past few days.”

Her departure from Nicoleta was more doleful, as Nicoleta embraced Ileana one last time and told her, “I’ll miss you, so much.  Can I come visit you in Vallaya?”

“You’ll have to ask the sisters about that,” Ileana said, “But you’re always welcome if you can.  And I’ll be sure to visit you.”

Ileana was soon galloping out of town on her horse, which she sped down the road towards Vallaya.  Pulling into her stable and approaching the door, she found no Andrei there to greet her when she knocked.  After she entered, she found he was also absent behind the counter of the shop.

When she did find Andrei, he was lying in his bed, asleep.  Several packages of vampire wares had been opened and emptied, and the discarded containers littered the floor.  As she approached Andrei, she saw that his skin was pale and sweat beaded on his forehead.  She ran foreword and put her hand on his forehead and found his skin hot to the touch.

He began to mutter as he partially came to consciousness, saying, to no on in particular, “I need…  I need… ”

“What do you need?” she asked, grabbing his hand.

Opening his eyes finally, and looking up at Ileana, standing over him, he asked, “Is that you Ileana?”  She smiled and said, “Yes,” gripping his hand more firmly.  Then he continued, “more vampire wares.  That’s the only thing that helps.”

Before she left, Ilean lifted up his lips to inspect his teeth.  Even though it was only to a small degree, it was clear that his incisors had started to grow.

<-- Go to Part 109         Go to Part 111 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 109

As Asha held Lina to the ground, firmly gripping her neck, Lina felt for the knife that Anton had given her.  It had fallen to the ground at her side and when she finally felt it at her fingertips, she pulled it in and put her hand around the handle.  She quickly lifted it up and swung it in Asha’s direction, tearing a slash across Asha’s chest.  Asha cried out with pain as she pulled away.  Lina used the moment to wedge her knees between Asha and her and push Asha off of her.  Asha didn’t let go of Lina’s neck easily, leaving five deep scratches around the side as her nails dug into the skin.

With Asha now upright Anton launched another bolt from his crossbow at her chest.  He planted it in the rib cage, before she had time to react.

She screeched with pain, but instead of faltering, she hissed at them, “When are you going to realize that these tiny pinpricks aren’t going to kill me?”

Bai grabbed Asha from behind just as she finished speaking, wrapping his arms around her neck.  He pulled her, dragging her feet along the floor towards the daylight in the Great Hall.  But her reflexes were to swift for him, as she pushed Bai’s arms away and knocked him to the ground.  Lina, though, was there to immediately further Bai’s attempt.  With all her strength, she shoved Asha towards the light.  Asha toppled over Bai and landed on her back with her face staring directly up into the sunlight.  It painfully burned her skin, and even in the seconds of exposure her face received, it was already bright red.

Asha hastily sat up, escaping into the shadows. But Asha didn’t let up, leaping at Asha, and kicking her whole body into the light.  The burns only escalated, now covering all of Asha’s exposed skin, the color rapidly deepening into darker shades of red.

Though Asha squealed with pain, she still attempted to rise and save herself. But before she could sit up an axe stroke swung down upon her neck and silenced her.  Lina looked up and saw Cornel standing over Asha, who’s beautiful head was now separated from her body.  Cornel’s axe was stuck deep in the stone floor between Asha’s torso and head, and he was rocking it back and forth trying to dislodge it.

“Thank you,” Lina said looking up at the burly blacksmith that hovered over her.

Cornel simply nodded his head and said, “Nothing to it, ma’am.”

Blood poured from out of the neck, and Lina looked down on it hungrily.  Unable to restrain herself she bent down and began sucking what blood remained out of Asha’s body.  Cornel turned away in revulsion, and many of the soldiers that looked down from above emitted groans of disgust.  But Lina ignored them, relishing in the unparalleled taste of Asha’s aged blood.

The intoxicating feeling of the vampire blood set fire to her heart and filled her with pleasure.  She felt like an angel dancing on the surface of the sun.  She felt like she could leap high enough to shatter the crystal spheres of heaven.  Her body felt alive, like it had been transformed into light and flame and was ready to zip across the sky like a falling star.  After she finished, she lay back in the shadows and stared up at the ceiling.

After some moments, Lina stood up, feeling light-headed and realized how tired she really was.  Quietly she went into Sim’s room, untied him from the bed, and carried him back into the darkness.  Bai followed and they walked into the pen.

Lina eventually found Suma in Dragomir’s former room.  She’d organized the pots that she could salvage just outside of it, and was reclining on his bed.  When Sim arrived, he was given the bed, and Lina began to nurse him back to health.

Anton, as he was leaving the pen, saw the corpse of Vasile, awkwardly sprawled across the floor of the Great Hall and threw himself upon him.  He cried softly as Cornel came over to comfort him, and help him properly remove the frail body.

Anton and the soldiers were told by Lina to leave the vampire dead.  The remaining vampires would clean them up themselves.  The soldiers took their own dead, including Vasile, with them and headed back to Vallaya, with now a giant crowd of dazed and pallid people walking beside them.

<-- Go to Part 108         Go to Part 110 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 108

Lina and Bai exited into the hall.  The last of the humans were trickling out of the caves, trying to catch up with the crowds that were ahead of them.

Lina walked to the door with the galloping horse carved into its surface and, finding it unlocked, slowly opened it.  The daylight that she permitted into the room as she opened the door was the only illumination.  It revealed the supine vampire there, tied to his own bed, covered in clotted blood and endless wounds.

Lina ran forward to help, grabbing his head and speaking directly at him: “We'll get you out of here.  You're going to be alright.”  Her words had a certain tender quality, a certain faltering and weakness to them as she spoke.

Her attention was diverted by a dark shadow emerging from the toilet compartment, who simply spoke her name in a whisper, “Lina.”  Suddenly Lina was blind-sided by Uta who leapt at her from behind the bed.  Uta pushed Lina out of the room, gripping her neck and pushing her backwards.  Uta tried to bit Lina’s neck, but Lina pushed her away, knocking her to the side.

Bai pulled Uta off the ground and began to grapple with her, when suddenly Asha emerged from the room and grabbed Lina by the neck.  Asha lifted Lina up by the neck, squeezing the breath out of her with her crushing grip.

“It really wasn't fair that Sim should have had to die in your place. What type of vile thing are you that you should make others be punished for your transgressions?  What type of monster are you?” Asha hissed and screeched.

Bai was able to knock Uta to the ground, where she collapsed, motionless and apparently unconscious.  Then he sprang to Lina’s aid.  He grabbed Asha off of Lina and shoved Asha into the room, while Lina took a gasping breath.  Bai then grabbed Lina and pulled her down the hall out of he way of Asha's retaliatory attack.  Asha emerged into the hall, turning towards Lina and Bai who fled towards the Great Hall.

Asha was ready to arrest their escape when a crossbow bolt lodged itself into the back of her thigh.  Her step faltered and she turned to see Anton raising his second crossbow and aiming.  Before she could lunge, he planted another bolt in her side, below the rib cage.  The bolt stuck through her, emerging out the other side and she screamed with pain.

She then ran for Anton, shouting, “You don’t shoot at me,” while Anton frantically scrambled to reload one of his crossbows.  She was upon Anton within a moment, toppling him over and opening her mouth to bite, but she was knocked from on top of him by Lina.  Asha rolled across the ground, quickly springing to her feet, but Lina was already on her feet, standing between her and Anton.

“You’re not going to survive,” Asha told Lina, like one cautioning a friend, “Even with their help, you’re not going to survive.  You were never meant to survive.  Sim was supposed to bring you as food and as the mother of another generation of food.  If only he’d done what he was supposed to, we wouldn’t have to be here.”

Asha attacked Lina, charging at her and trying to pin her to the ground.  But Asha had seriously underestimated Lina.  Lina was able to dodge, leaping out of the way and pushing Asha aside.

As she turned back and looked at Lina she could see what she had noticed before without really thinking through its meaning: Lina’s face was gorgeous, as beautiful as a vampire approaching their first century, and she had the strength to match.  Asha thus approached more slowly this time, waiting for just the right moment to attack, eyeing her options; keeping an ear open for Bai, who lingered behind her trying to sneak up on her; trying to keep Lina between her and Anton, who had one crossbow loaded and was trying to fire a shot.

Uta, who’d recovered by now from Bai’s attack was now back on her feet and ready to attack Lina again.  She stood up and darted at Lina from behind.  Lina heard her before the attack arrived and turned to grab Uta and push her away.  She reacted so swiftly that she was able to lift Uta and throw her directly at Asha.  Asha ducked out of the way and Uta landed at Bai’s feet.  Bai was quick to react and he tossed Uta out into the Great Hall, into the daylight.  Uta was only lightly dressed and she felt the piercing burn of the sunlight as her skin began to burn.  Her suffering didn’t last, since as soon as the soldiers above caught sight of her, they launched several shots and arrows at her, killing her in moments.

Asha used this momentary distraction as an opportunity to attack, her body on top of Lina in a flash.  Bai was instantly there to try and rescue Lina, but Asha was now ready for him.  She kicked Bai off of her, still maintaining her hold on Lina, who she held by the neck with one hand.  When Anton shot, she ducked to avoid it, the bolt flying over her head and rattling to the ground, where it skidded away.  And she continued to hold onto Lina, who vainly struggled to free herself.

<-- Go to Part 107         Go to Part 109 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 107

Cornel was the first soldier to react to the attack.  He picked up the large axe that rested at his side and swung it around directly into the chest of one of the vampires that tried to escape.  Between the velocity that Cornel imparted to his axe, and the momentum of the vampire’s mad dash away, the axe was lodged deep in the vampire’s chest, piercing through his rib cage and slicing open his lungs.  A fine spatter of blood was thrown into the air and Cornel turned to avoid it.  Blood continued to pour out of the great wound onto his chest as Cornel struggled to remove the axe.  More blood poured into the vampire’s lungs drowning him from within.  When Cornel finally dislodged the axe, the vampire, collapsed to the ground.

Cornel next tried to attack Bai, since the third vampire had already escaped, but Bai leapt out of his reach, leaping into the crater in front of him.  Cornel pursued indirectly, by running around to the coven entrance, but he trailed far behind.

Bai seemed to float to the ground as he arced through the air towards Vasile.  He landed within steps of Vasile, who was running away into the tunnel.  Bai reached forward grabbing Vasile from behind, and took him in his arms.  He opened his mouth, preparing to take Vasile’s life.

Bai couldn’t just give Vasile the quickest possible death.  He had to savor it.  The hunter that had plagued the coven for years was in his arms, and he would take the opportunity to drain him from the neck.  He forced Vasile to the ground, discovering that the old hunter was uncommonly fast and strong.  But Bai was finally able to latch his mouth onto that pale neck and drink his blood.  He relished the long gulps, even as the soldiers from above tried to fire down upon him, even as an arrow was lodged in his back and a bit of metal ripped through his shoulder.  Finished, he tossed the pallid body aside and ran towards his vampire companions to help them push the humans back into their place.

But as he approached the vampires he saw a sight he never thought he’d see.  A tiny vampire, still the size of a youngster, not even fully grown, crawled over the crowd and dived on all three of the vampires.  Two of them she so forcefully threw against the wall that they fell limp to the ground, and she latched onto the neck of the third and eagerly drained his blood.  After the tiny vampire was finished, she looked up, and Bai saw the radiant face of Lina, savage and stained with blood.

Bai sensed immediately that he couldn’t overpower her.  He turned around and ran from her as fast as he could.  She darted after him immediately.  Bai had never known a young vampire to be so fast.  She caught up to him within moments.  The two of them chased across the Great Hall and Lina grabbed him by the cloak and shoved him against the wall just behind the throne.  The soldiers directly over their head looked down at them, and she shouted up at them, “Don’t shoot.”

Lina held Bai there, staring into his eyes.  He couldn’t free himself from her iron grip, as much as he tried, as much as he struggled.  He turned away from her in anticipation of her bite, but instead she said to him, “Help me kill Asha and rescue Sim and I’ll let you live.”

At that moment a loud cluster of gunfire was heard from above.  A shout of, “We got the other one,” could be heard.  The third vampire sentry had been laid to the ground with several individual pieces of shot lodged in his chest.  Bai looked at Lina and he simply nodded.

Lina led the way through the Great Hall, grabbing Bai by the hand.  The humans of the pen were now in full flight, and the great masses of them poured out in a panic.  Lina and Bai had to fight with difficulty against the crowd, though people tried to keep a distance from these two black-cloaked vampires approaching them.

When they found the three vampires that Lina had left behind, she pulled them aside into a room, since they were in the midst of the stream of people.  Lina bent down and made sure to finish off the two others by draining their blood.

After she’d drunk her fill, she leaned back and took a long gratified breath, relaxing from her feast.  The way that the blood of the vampires, freshly plucked from their bodies, seemed to engorge her strength was intoxicating.  It felt like the intermingled blood flowed through her body in a river of lightning; the humming of her life force felt amplified to the ear-splitting volume of a thousand barrels of gunpowder ignited at once; her body felt like it was on the verge of transforming into flames.  She took many long moments to savor the sensation of the blood within her before she stood up and looked at Bai.

“Sim’s in his room,” Lina said to Bai after a moment’s pause, “I expect that’s where we’ll find Asha too.”

<-- Go to Part 106         Go to Part 108 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 106

Bai had been in a tree as sentry on the opposite side of the coven from where the soldiers approached when the attack began.  Him and the other two surviving sentries thus had been oblivious to the approach of the troops, their setup and Lina’s entrance into the coven.  But when the gunpowder was ignited and exploded they were awoken to attention.

Bai had been in a tree as sentry on the opposite side of the coven from where the soldiers approached when the attack began.  He and the other two surviving sentries thus had been oblivious to the approach of the troops, until the gunpowder exploded and awoke them to attention.

Bai himself could see the smoke and the dust from the explosion rising into the air, he could feel the trembling of the earth as it rattled the tree he stood upon, and he could feel the force of that boom within his ears.

Bai leapt down from the tree and rounded up the other two sentries that were nearest him to confer in secret.

“What in God’s name was that explosion?” one of them asked.

“We’ll find out,” Bai said, “We approach slowly.  We can assume the coven’s under attack.”

Together, the three of them approached, remaining hidden behind the brush as the entrance to the coven came into view.  Much to their horror, they saw a large crater just above their coven and two rows of soldiers firing down into it with volley after volley of projectiles.

Bai suggested, “We should circle around, find Tam, and attack them from behind.”

They swiftly circled around the troops, but by the time they’d reached the location of Tam’s post, the firing had stopped and Tam was missing.

They saw the body a few moments later and Bai approach and inspected it, pulling away the cloak to expose the neck.  A large, round wound in the shape of a jaw, with two semi-circular gashes, where the upper and lower teeth respectively tore through, was visible.  The skin was paler than normal, and only small streaks of blood stained the area around and below the wound.

“His blood’s been drained, by a vampire,” Bai said to the other two, “Probably by Lina.  She must be with them.”

They moved rapidly, but softly across the forest floor, slowing to very gentle, silent steps as they came within earshot of the soldiers.  A number of clearly trained and appropriately armored soldiers comprised the majority of the group, along with a handful of villagers, whose limited armor and casual peasant dress distinguished them.

Bai told his two fellow companions, “Focus on the armored soldiers.  Let’s try to be in and out in an eye blink.  We’ll each kill one, then run away and regroup.  Then we’ll hit them with another attack.”

As Bai and the other two vampires slowly crept in from behind, several screams emerged from out of the crater.  Three vampires hiding together in one of the rooms, leapt out through their door in a sudden burst, pouncing upon the humans within arms reach.  They weren’t looking to kill the human, but to keep them from draining out of their pen.  They tried to herd the humans backwards by force.  The three of them, with all of their strength, pushed against the crowd of people, their arms outstretched, pushing forward with their shoulders. They knocked many persons over, toppling them to the ground in the process and causing a panic as people were suddenly forced backwards.

Those few that had been missed by the three vampires, that were already out of reach when the vampires emerged, started to run in the direction of the Great Hall and up the ramp and out of the coven, led by Constanta.  Vasile, at the front, heard the scream from the tunnel were he led, and he immediately turned and rushed against the panicked stream of human bodies that ran upwards and out.

The sound and commotion below distracted the soldiers, who turned and aimed their weapons into the crater, and Bai realized that this was a perfect opportunity.  He ordered his two companions, “Now!” and the three of them ran at the soldiers.

The soldiers were completely taken by surprise by the attack.  In one moment, three soldiers all had vampires perched upon their bodies — their great weight pushing them to the ground, while the feet stood upon their waist and the arms wrapped their shoulders.  The vampires didn’t have time to drain the blood, so instead they simply reached through the armor, to find a bit of neck between the seems, and then bit at the flesh and pulled it away with their teeth.  Spurts of blood spilled out of the soldiers as they dropped to the ground, and the vampires began to run before any of the soldiers could raise their guns and aim.

But Bai hesitated, as he looked down into the crater.  Only now did he realize what damage had been done, as he saw that the crater had exposed their main room to the sunlight.  But what drew his attention was Vasile entering the Great Hall from above.

<-- Go to Part 105         Go to Part 107 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 105

Anton had to force himself to hand over Constanta to Vasile, since Vasile would be leading the humans out through the kitchen and Anton would be guarding the tail.  He didn’t want to part with her, but he wanted her out of the coven into the daylight as soon as possible.

Vasile insisted that they move as quietly as possible since some vampires were still unaccounted for.  The front of the crowd, with Constanta in the lead, simply followed him, without giving a second look back at their former home.  Many others were still gathering together their possessions, wanting to bring the many things they had acquired while living there.  For some, their possessions had accumulated into a cumbersome collection, and they struggled to carry it all.

As Vasile passed Lina who still watched over Suma in the kitchen, he asked her, “Are you going to kill that one already?”

Lina nodded her head, and Vasile continued through the halls with a long chain of humans crowding behind him.

Anton, who had stayed behind to guard the rear, implored the stragglers, “Don’t worry about your damn stuff.  We have to get you out of here.”  The last few were carrying armfuls of things and they rushed to catch up with the rest of the group while Anton anxiously urged them on.  When Anton finally stepped into the kitchen, and saw Lina still watching over Suma, he couldn’t restrain his joy and he leapt towards her, hugging her tightly.  She pushed him away and said, “Careful.”  But Anton hadn’t a concern in the world and he grabbed Lina’s face and kissed her full on the lips.  Lina froze with shock and let him kiss until he pulled away, smiling and staring at her.  “If only you weren’t a vampire,” he said to her.

“You’ll get infected if you do things like that,” she reprimanded.

“I don’t care,” he said in response, “You’ve done the most wonderful thing.  How can I ever repay you?”  As he spoke he backed away out of the room, not forgetting his responsibility to guard the humans who were disappearing out of the pen.  Lina gave him a faint smile as he left and waved goodbye.

Then Lina turned to Suma and asked her, “Where is Sim?  Is he still alive?”

“I think so,” Suma replied, “He was last being detained in his own room.  Last I heard that is.”

Lina then leaned in close to Suma, who trembled and covered herself in anticipation of what she expected to be a blood-draining bite.  Instead Lina whispered in her ear, “You’re going to live.  Take all this food into the pen.  Deep into the pen.  We’ll hide there.  I’ll bring Sim.  They’ll never find us.  Please hurry.”

Then Lina quickly darted out of the room to head in the direction of Sim’s room, hoping, even praying that Sim was there and still alive.

Just as she was leaving the kitchen, a muffled shout drew her attention to the barred room.  She stepped into the barred room from outside the pen, and saw Mir, inside the pen, tied to the bars.  He was seated on the ground with his hands tied behind his back by several rags pieced together by a nest of knots.  A great number of separate pieces of cloth had been used to tie him, with several knotted loops running down either arm to secure him to the bars, along with a chain of loops down his legs to hold them together.

Lina walked towards him slowly.  His mouth was gagged and he was only able to moan and scream in inarticulate words.  He could just see Lina behind his back and called out to her in the hope that she might help him, but as she got closer, he realized that this vampire was not friendly.  Lina didn’t hurry, sauntering towards him, so that she could smell his pungent odor.  Mir kicked his legs and shouted through the gag, pushing with all his might to get himself free.  Lina meanwhile squeezed her head through the bars and touched her lips to his neck.  Her teeth followed behind this, opening up a large hole in his neck, through which cup-fulls of rich, fortifying blood flowed down her throat.

As Vasile and Constansta and a train of humans behind them burst out into the Great Hall, the soldiers looked down and saw them from above.  A great cheer emerged from all of them at once.  For most of them, not until that very moment were they quite sure that there really were any humans to be found in this coven.  As they looked on them with their own eyes and saw the endless numbers that continued to pour out, their joy and excitement only grew until it burst out into riotous celebration.

In the rooms, though, the last remaining vampires still hid, just hearing the faint sound of the pattering of many feet escaping.  It was like the sound of their great, accumulated wealth slipping out of their fingers, like a river of gold flowing down into the gutters.  And they couldn’t just let it slip away, so out from their rooms they sprang and attacked.

<-- Go to Part 104         Go to Part 106 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.