View Full Version : Archon of Ashes (Fantasy/Horror)
Sat, 30th Nov '02, 5:00pm
This is yet another sampling of my writing. I cannot guarantee regular updating of this story, though, as I still have to work on the Shura one while continuing my now defunct Hero of the Frozen Wastes which will most likely not be seen here anymore...
Anyway, here goes...tell me what you think, eh?
Chapter 1: Awakening
“ The time is zero three hundred hours, fourteenth of October. With your permission, Lady Von Seros, we shall begin the dissection.” The man’s mouth moved beneath the surgical mask strapped across his face. Behind a glass screen, an almost imperceptible nod gave the surgeon the go ahead.
“ A vertical cut shall be made down the center of the subject’s chest to expose the major organs.” The dried, wrinkled flesh parted easily underneath the scalpel’s edge. With a pair of clamps, the surgeon holds the wound apart and peers intently at the heart and lungs of his subject.
“ The lungs have atrophied as can be expected.” There was a tremor of uneasiness in his voice and he had to motion for his assistant to wipe the sweat from his forehead before he could continue. “ But the heart has not. Although it is not beating now, it is obvious that this organ has been active in the very recent activity.”
The surgeon looked up at the glass screen. Light flashed off the toothy grin of the Lady Von Seros.
“ Proceed, doctor.” Her voice was girlish, yet somehow ancient beyond a man’s reckoning. The surgeon nodded. Behind him, his assistant, a young woman, yelped.
“ What’s the matter?” He demanded. His eyes widened in horror as he saw that his assistant had gashed herself lightly on her wrist. Blood flowed down her arm freely.
“ Sorry, doctor…it’s just a small…” Her apology was cut off by the surgeon’s terrified shriek.
“ You stupid *****!” The words had scarcely left his mouth before a dry wheeze filled the air of the operating theater. Vocal cords that have not moved in centuries contracted spasmodically. Bone creaked against bone as a grinning jaw opened, the lips dried long ago to nothingness.
“ Get out of here!” Seizing his assistant by her hand, the surgeon raced to the door of the operating theater. He depressed a button but the door did not slide open. A puzzled expression on his face, he slammed his palm against the button again, achieving similar results. He whirled to face the glass screen.
“ Please, Lady Von Seros!” He begged. “ Let us out! I can still be of use to you! Don’t let me die this way!”
“ You are no longer needed, doctor. Please, make yourself useful and welcome my friend back.”
“ No!” The surgeon screamed, flailing vainly against the door. Beside him, his assistant mirrored his panic, crying and sobbing in terror.
Wrinkled claws thrust themselves into the air for a moment before slamming down upon the operating table. The desiccated corpse pulled itself painfully into a sitting position. A low groan issued from its ruined throat. It turned around to regard the cowering surgeon and assistant. Red orbs flared from within its sunken eye sockets and the corpse bared its oversized canines.
“ Take her!” The surgeon planted a hand on the small of his assistant’s back and heaved her towards the corpse. Taken by surprise, the woman shrieked and tumbled into its waiting arms. A claw seized her hair and pulled her head back. Before another scream of terror could pass her lips, the corpse buried its fangs in her neck. Blood spurted as the creature tore into her jugular, drinking ravenously.
As it drank, the corpse seemed to fill in. Its dried flesh returned to something resembling normalcy and dark hair suddenly sprouted on its pitted scalp. The clamps holding the hole upon its chest sprang free as the wound knitted itself. The terrible red orbs glowing in its head became less sunken as the creature’s face smoothed out into the semblance of a sharp-featured man in his early thirties. There was nothing human in the greedy, feral expression upon the creature’s face though.
Life faded from the assistant’s eyes but the creature held on, gnawing at her throat in a desperate search for more blood. After a few moments of futility, it flung the assistant’s body aside and advanced upon the surgeon.
“ NO!” He had time for one desperate denial before the creature fell over him.
Behind the glass screen, Lady Von Seros laughed, a silvery tinkling sound that belied the evil behind the voice.
Sentience returned with a roar. His fingers, tense as steel cords, were wrapped around the broken and lifeless shoulders of a man in a blue robe. Behind him, he found the corpse of a woman, her lifeless eyes staring vacantly at the ceiling. A ghastly throat wound, similar to the one present on the man, told him the cause of her demise.
A drop of blood fell from his chin onto the back of his hand. Absently, he wiped his mouth, smearing more of the crimson liquid on his hand.
“ Sustenance, existence.” The words fell from his lips with great difficulty. He had not spoken for a long, long time. A terrible chill ran through his frame. “ Coldness, light.” He ran his eyes over the torn corpses in the theater and inexplicably, waves of sorrow ran over him. The grief was not for his victims, rather, it was for himself, though he did not know why. “ Carnage, blood.” He whispered, raising his hands and staring at the blood smeared all over them.
“ Un-death.” The word was unbearably loud in the sudden silence. He sank to his knees, clutching the sides of his arms. His head bowed, he would have wept, if he had any tears left.
The door of the operating theater slid open with a mechanical hiss and he swung his gaze to regard the two figures that walked in.
One of them was an elderly man dressed in a somber suit with a red tie and a monocle upon his left eye. He adjusted the black leather gloves upon his hands, a gesture more out of habit than anything else. There was no fear in his eyes as he looked upon the blood drenched and naked form of the creature before him, despite the mangled corpses lying on the floor.
The other however, was a young girl, far from any semblance of womanhood, wearing a silvery dress trimmed with lace. Her large red eyes, so similar to his, dominated her cherubic face. They shone with a malignant wisdom, speaking of countless battles and struggles that had been won through cunning and strength. She smiled widely, delight shining in her red eyes.
“ Varleon Bastodene!” The girl cried, dashing forwards to wrap her short arms around the creature’s neck. Blinking in recognition at the name, he nodded slowly once.
“ Yes, that is my name.” The words came hesitatingly from his mouth. He looked at the girl, studying her closely. “ Who are you?” Dismay crept into her large eyes.
“ It’s me, Lilliana Von Seros!” She said. “ Do you not recognize me?” Varleon Bastodene shook his head, a puzzled expression coming over his face. Lilliana gripped the sides of his face in her small hands, her grip surprisingly strong.
“ The Twilight Council! You were our guardian, our defender!” She cried, jerking Varleon’s head painfully. “ You must remember, you must!”
“ Lady Von Seros.” The elderly man said in a polite but firm voice. “ Your actions will avail you nothing, I’m afraid. The gentleman here has much of his thoughts to sort out, a task you are definitely not helping with.” Lilliana huffed and crossed her arms, a surprisingly childish and human gesture despite her eyes that gleamed with age.
“ Very well, then. Clean him up and get him dressed, Ivan.” She turned and started walking towards the door of the operating theater. When she reached the door, she turned and fixed her gaze upon the dazed Varleon for a moment and opened her mouth to speak. “ I shall see the two of you in my room in two hours.” Ivan bowed deeply, crossing one hand over his chest.
When Lilliana’s footsteps faded, he turned to Varleon and helped him to his feet.
“ Mister Bastodene.” Ivan indicated the door with a polite gesture. “ If you would come this way, please.” Varleon nodded numbly, too confused to offer any protests or queries.
The water from the shower stung his skin painfully, even as he marveled at a device of such great convenience. When he had scrubbed himself with the soap Ivan had given him and rinsed the grime and blood off his body, he wrapped a towel around himself and stepped out.
Ivan stood beside a table in the small room that he had brought him to. Since leaving the operating theater, Varleon had followed him through what seemed to be an endless maze of stairs and marble corridors, illuminated by lamps that did not give off any trace of smoke, since they were fluorescent.
The servant of Lady Von Seros waved a hand to bring Varleon’s attention to the clothes draped across the wooden table and chair and he did not hesitate in putting them on. A red shirt, covered by a black jacket and black pants were clothes of cut and type foreign to him but he worked out where each piece was supposed to go. After he was done, he slipped into a pair of black leather shoes that Ivan had laid out for him.
“ If you are done, Mister Bastodene, Lady Von Seros would like to see you now.” Ivan informed him. Varleon took a long look at the servant.
“ You are…unlike us. Why do you serve her?” He asked. Ivan quirked an eyebrow at the curious question and chuckled once.
“ I am indeed a mere mortal, Mister Bastodene. I age and die, unlike you and Lady Von Seros.” The servant said. “ But your kind has always utilized human servants, for great as your powers are, none of you can walk under the sun as humans can.”
“ I can not walk under the sun?” Flashes of memory raced through his thoughts. He clutched his head, staggering off to one side. “ I do not breathe! My flesh exudes no warmth! And I…drink blood to survive…”
“ You have forgotten that you are a vampire?” Ivan mused, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “ A rare case among all the derangements that plague your kind indeed.” Varleon held out an upraised palm to assure the servant that he was not about to go off into a hysterical fit.
“ I know what I am now…Ivan.” He said slowly. “ Though I have no clue of my identity beyond my name.” He raised his head to look at the servant. “ Lilliana. She knows of my past, does she not? Can she tell me who I am?”
“ Lady Von Seros will tell you what she will, Mister Varleon. That is all I can promise you.” A resolute look came into Varleon’s eyes.
“ Very well. Take me to her, Ivan. Please.”
A stunningly beautiful woman answered Ivan’s knock upon the door. She was dressed in a plain brown dress and her eyes looked slightly askew and unfocused. She did not take any notice of Varleon’s curious stare but instead raised a finger to her lips as if in a request for silence.
Liliana’s room was softly illuminated by orange lamps and covered with thick carpets. Magnificent paintings decorated the walls and a huge desk of ebony wood dominated the inner part of the room. Lilliana sat behind the desk, scribbling furiously. She looked up as Ivan and Varleon entered.
“ Approach.” There was a subtle power behind the word and Varleon found himself complying, his legs carrying him forward against his will. Lilliana walked from her desk to stand before him, looking up into his eyes. The top of her head did not even reach his waist. She raised a small hand and again Varleon found himself sinking to one knee so that their faces were on the same level. The same hand stroked the side of his face gently for many moments.
“ You have no idea how difficult it was to find you, Varleon. Your coffin was buried under the collapsed cathedral, under tons of rubble! And when we found you, none of us could get past the Holy Wards that bound your coffin! I had to engage the costly services of Iaius the Blood Magus to undo the wards before we could retrieve you.” Lilliana said softly. Her words brought flashes of memory through Varleon’s consciousness again. Memories of countless battles in the wars between the rulers of the night, recollections of fearsome foes that ranged from vampires like himself to human warriors blessed by the divine and an image of himself standing over a grave, his dead eyes failing to produce a single tear despite his grief.
“ Defender.” Varleon said, shaking his head slowly in an attempt to clear his thoughts of all the overlapping images in his head. “ I…fought for something…killed for something…”
“ Yes!” A gleam came into Lilliana’s eyes. “ You remember! The chaos worshippers used to fear the merest mention of your name! The paladins of the Vatican lost their vaunted courage when they knew you would fight them!”
Varleon looked down upon his hands. Countless thousands have died upon them, undead or human. He looked up again into Lilliana’s eyes.
“ I used to serve you.” He said. Lilliana nodded.
“ You served the Council of Twilight, thirteen of the most powerful undead lords that rule the world through the shadows. We keep the majority of the humans ignorant of our existence, herding them into their lives like the sheep they are, defending them against the more ravenous of our kind.” Lilliana told him, her speech gaining fervor as she went on. “ The world runs on our words alone. Its existence rests on our shoulders. And it is a heavy burden indeed.”
“ I bore a small part of that burden, I remember.” An image of him cradling a sobbing and terrified Lilliana in the crook of one arm and making his way out of a burning building came into his mind. “ There were always those who sought to hurt you and the rest of the Council of Twilight. I had to fight them, fight them all. The battles never ended…”
“ You have slept for four centuries, Varleon. The Council needs you now, more than ever. There are those of our kin who seek to enslave humanity openly and the self-proclaimed forces of light are more than eager to bring their holy war upon the world. The Council shall fight them, Varleon, but I…we need your help.”
“ I now know of my former duties but nothing of my former identity.” Varleon stood up, shrugging off Lilliana’s compulsion easily. “ Why did I go to sleep? Who were my friends and loved ones? Why did I agree to fight for your Council in the first place?”
“ You have had only one loved one, Varleon. It is me!” Lilliana clutched at his jacket, a desperate tone in her voice. “ You served the Council because of your love for me!”
“ No.” Varleon gently disengaged her fingers from his jacket. “ You lie. I shall serve you and the Council once again, though.” He turned and started walking towards the door. He did not stop when he reached the doorway and continued through it, his footsteps leading him towards no particular destination. But he had to walk, to somehow find unattainable solace in the activity from the turmoil of his thoughts.
Lilliana stood staring at Varleon’s departure. Her small hands trembled for a moment before she forced them to stillness, calling upon centuries of iron wrought discipline. She spun towards her desk and pressed a button on it. A panel slid open in the ceiling to reveal the setting moon. Soon, the sun would rise and she would be incinerated if she did not close the panel.
“ An Archon. An Archon has returned to us.” She whispered to the night.
Sun, 1st Dec '02, 12:48am
Wow - I admit I haven't read the stuff you wrote in the past, but this piece is really amazing. Please continue!
The Lawful Xaositect
Sun, 1st Dec '02, 1:01am
Horror? Yeah right, It didn't sacre me none!
Like I have said before for your other works, brilliant.
Sun, 1st Dec '02, 2:42am
C'Jakob, you realy should read his other stuff, its all brilliant.
As its the introduction, it probably wasn't meant to 'scare you none'
I think you think too much Shura, you begin a whole bunch of stories and most of them never get finished. Anyway, its all good
The Kilted Crusader
Wed, 4th Dec '02, 6:40pm
Once again, that was brilliant. I'm really intrigued by this, can't wait for your next post!
Sat, 7th Dec '02, 3:59pm
Chapter 2: Blood Magus
The hospital ward was silent except for the frequent beeps of the life monitoring system and the slow shallow breaths of the young woman lying on the bed. She was kept alive by the air and fluids fed to her through tubes and she had been in this state for a long, long time.
A solitary figure stood vigil beside her bed. It was a tall gaunt man clad in a black trench coat upon which crimson symbols and signs were emblazoned. The man’s flesh exuded no warmth and no breath passed between his lips. Red eyes were hidden behind yellow-tinted spectacles and his long, silvery hair fell freely along the sides of his face.
Soon, it would be three hours after the setting of the sun and he would go about his business but for now, he stood beside her bed, gaze unwavering. It was something that he had been doing for the last four years, an unbroken routine, and a sacred ritual. For four years, she had lain comatose and he had watched over her every night, awaiting her revival. The time meant nothing to him, he who had eternity to spare, but to her, the minutes, hours and days were precious beyond reckoning.
His eyes noticed the angle of the moon from the window and he took note of the time. Even with the invention of modern timepieces, he had never stopped relying on his own intuitiveness where time was concerned. The clock in his head could gauge time to the very second, if he wanted to. A long, pallid finger stroked the side of her face gently.
“ I shall return.” He said, before turning around and taking up his walking stick, which had been propped by the wall. It was an elaborately crafted work of art, a three-foot long pole with writhing demons engraved along its length and a grinning skull as its pommel. He set his tall, black top hat upon his head and opened the door of the ward.
An elderly nurse awaited him outside. She bowed respectfully and he inclined his head slightly in response. Without a further word, he made his way down the corridors of the hospital and emerged through the building’s main entrance.
Count Iaius, the Blood Magus, looked up to the heavens, the moon and stars as hazy celestial bodies behind his tinted spectacles and blinked once before walking away.
Jessica clutched the sides of her arms, shivering violently. She groveled at the feet of the leather-clad man.
“ Please, I need some now!” She begged through cracked lips. Her fingers scrabbled desperately at the man’s heavy boots. “ Gimme some, please!” Countless purplish needle marks marred her skin in the crooks of her elbows. “ I’ll do anything, anything!” The man smiled slowly, the weak lamplight in the alley glinting off his eerily white teeth.
“ Would you? I can think of certain uses I might have of you.” He said, leaning closer. A chill wafted over Jessica’s flesh as his face stopped an inch away from hers. “ Are you sure?” He tossed a small white packet of powder in his hand idly. Jessica’s eyes widened in longing.
“ Yes! Yes! Anything!” She shouted hoarsely. “ Just give it to me!” The man dangled the white packet above her grasping hands teasingly for a moment before letting go of it. Jessica snatched up the packet of powder and tore it open with trembling hands. After a few moments of fumbling with a syringe full of saline solution, she dissolved the powder in it and guided the needle towards a vein in her arm.
The man watched hungrily as the drug hit her. Jessica’s eyes glazed over and she slumped against the filthy alley wall, moaning softly in ignorant bliss. Putting an arm around her waist, he lifted her easily and carried the drugged woman through a metal door by the side of the alley. Another leather-clad young man met him there, hopping from foot to foot in excitement.
“ Come on, man! The party’s about to start!” He said, pushing another thick door behind him open. The din of heavy metal music blasted through the small opening and the man grinned at his companion.
“ MURDER YOUR CHILDREN, KILL EM GOOD!” The doorkeeper bared his fangs, shaking his head up and down violently as he chanted the words to the music blaring within. “ MURDER! MURDER!”
The man carrying Jessica looked upon a wild kaleidoscopic scene of gyrating bodies that twirled and dipped to the beat of the music. He walked towards a table occupied by a host of seven vampires in the guise of both male and female humans. He nodded respectfully to the one sitting in the center, a slim, almost androgynous man with his hair slicked back across his scalp.
“ Lord Ricard,” He cast a contemptuous glance towards Jessica. “ I have brought tonight’s main course. She should prove…very stimulating.” Lord Ricard studied the glazed expression in Jessica’s eyes and the line of drool that oozed from her lips and smiled.
“ Ah…heavily drugged.” He said in his high, effeminate voice. “ Just what I had in mind.” Lord Ricard waved a hand to indicate that the man carrying Jessica should sit down. When the lesser vampire did so, Lord Ricard leaned forward, his pale hands clasped eagerly before his face.
“ I have arranged something rather interesting for tonight’s entertainment. I trust that it will be to everyone’s taste.” His band of cronies laughed in anticipation. A few of them ran crimson tongues over their sharp canines hungrily.
Lord Ricard stood up and signaled to a vampire operating his disco’s sound system. The bald, heavily tattooed man nodded and pressed a button. The music went dead instantly. Lord Ricard picked up a microphone on his table and brought it to his lips, leaping up to stand on his seat as he did so. The undead crowd cheered loudly at the sight of him.
“ Ladies and Gentlemen, the main event shall commence shortly!” He paused for a moment to bare his fangs. “ The squeamish may leave now!” Hoots of laughter and more frenzied cheering ensued as the heavy curtains covering the upraised stage of the complex were pulled aside. A dozen figures huddled on the floor of the stage, cowering in terror at the noise. As a multi-colored spotlight fell on them, the crowd could see that they were a ragtag band of smuggled Asians. There were a few children among them, and they began to cry loudly as the curtains were pulled back.
“ Their lives are cheap, but their screams are just as beautiful!” Lord Ricard bellowed on his microphone. “ Their pain is just as real, and their blood is just as red!” The vampire lord walked up the stage and leered down at a young woman with grime smudged all over her features. She screamed in terror. Lord Ricard spun around to face his audience, arms spread and an expression of mock-woe upon his face.
“ The humans call us monsters, do they not?” He snapped the fingers on one hand and ten burly men with their faces covered in leather masks appeared from the corners of the stage. They carried lead pipes and lengths of heavy chains in their hands. “ Little do they know that the true monsters are among them! The horrors a human being can afflict on one of his kind are as nothing to our vilest designs!” The masked men advanced upon the cowering smuggled immigrants menacingly and fresh cries of terror ensued.
“ Tonight, twelve human beings shall perish horribly simply for our pleasure!” A lead pipe fell heavily and an elderly man collapsed with a crushed skull just as a length of chain was wrapped around a woman’s neck. Lord Ricard raised his arms in a dramatic gesture. “ Let the terror begin!”
And the senseless carnage began. The men were killed swiftly and painfully. The women and children took a much longer time to die. A middle-aged woman had every bone in her body broken and her fingers tugged from their sockets before a lead pipe was rammed down her throat. A masked man held another teenager while his companion heaved himself up and down on her. They strangled her with a chain when they were done. A child, barely more than four, was impaled upon a lead pipe from crotch to throat. Two masked men waved the grisly banner around like a macabre flag as the vampires cheered and screamed in delight.
Basking in the carnage and slaughter, Lord Ricard threw his head back in ecstasy and laughed. No one, human nor vampire noticed a figure in a long coat walk up towards Jessica, sprawled half senseless on a glass table, and look down on her.
“ Pitiful human.” He removed his top hat from his head. “ You do not have long to live.” Placing a cold, pallid hand on her forehead, the newcomer leaned forward and spoke softly into her ear.
“ You despise what you have become, do you not?” He asked. Jessica could only croak hoarsely in reply. The vampire smiled grimly. “ Then you shall serve me but once before I release you to death, pitiful one.” His red eyes flared in the dim light of the complex and he began a low chant, the arcane syllables drowned out by the thundering cheers of the vampires watching the carnage upon the stage.
At length, the last of the victims were dispatched and the masked men left the stage after much bowing and gesturing, as if they were artistes who had just put up a magnificent performance. Lord Ricard and his posse returned to their table, exuberant grins upon their faces. They paused at the sight of the tall figure in a long black coat holding an old fashioned top hat in his hands. A few uneasy snarls were issued from the lesser vampires but Lord Ricard broke out unexpectedly into a smile.
“ Count Iaius!” He bowed deeply towards the newcomer. “ You do me a great honor by visiting my establishment!” The Count returned the bow, though he inclined his body significantly less than Lord Ricard.
“ Lord Ricard. I have come for what you promised to procure for me.” He said evenly. Lord Ricard nodded and pulled out a small black briefcase from under the glass table. He opened it and gave it to Iaius.
A small book bound in human skin was inside. The cover was decorated with arcane symbols written in blood. Iaius nodded and produced an envelope from a pocket in his coat, tossing it into Ricard’s hands.
“ Ten thousand dollars, as agreed.” Iaius told him. He quirked an eyebrow as Ricard gave it to one of his cronies without opening it. “ You are not going to count it?”
“ Your honesty and honor are unquestionable.” Ricard laughed, shaking his head. “ I have no reason to distrust you. Have you met my childe yet?” He swept a hand to indicate his cronies.
“ You have created new vampires without the permission of the Council, Ricard.” Iaius’s voice did not change but something in his tone and bearing made Ricard and the lesser vampires uneasy. “ The consequences are dire, I warn you.”
“ The Council is old and senile, Count Iaius!” Ricard snarled. “ They rant on and on about staying amongst the shadows! What are they hiding from? We are the Masters of the world! Everything in Creation exists for our pleasure!” He snatched the semi-conscious form of Jessica up from the glass table, cupping her chin in one hand. “ Humans are to us as cows and chickens are to them! They are nothing more than pieces of meat to be toyed with and to be eaten!”
“ We were all human once.” Iaius said quietly. Ricard turned to regard his progeny incredulously and as one, they all began to laugh.
“ Yes, good Count, we were.” Ricard licked the side of Jessica’s dirty neck once and tossed her to the other vampires. They cackled and buried their fangs in her flesh, eagerly coaxing drug-rich blood from her veins into their greedy mouths. “ But now we are so much more!” The vampire lord exclaimed, an exuberant gleam of madness in his eyes.
“ You are an old vampire as well, Count.” Ricard said. “ You have been around centuries before me and I have seen a hundred years pass. It is only natural that you seek to be conservative and side with the Council. As you have been a valuable patron all these years, I bestow upon you some advice: When the time comes for the Council to be overthrown, do not stand for their defense, for a second death will surely find you!”
“ You have chosen to side with the Cult of Chaos?” Iaius asked. Behind Ricard, the lesser vampires guzzled and feasted.
“ They are the ones who will bring us to the true power that we deserve, good Count Iaius. The senile fools of the Council cannot stand before them!”
“ Damning words, Lord Ricard. For one who dwells in a city under the Council’s sway, such words are a death sentence.” Iaius leaned forward so that his tinted spectacles were but an inch away from the tip of Ricard’s nose. “ But since you have provided me with your valuable services all these years, I bestow upon you some advice as well.” An uncharacteristic grin spread across his face. “ The Council is mighty, impudent child. It has been mighty for thousands of years and it shall be mighty till this world ends, consumed by the sun.”
“ Is that a threat, good Count Iaius?” Ricard tried to copy the Count’s grin but his composure failed him. The Count had never spoken to him in this way before. Iaius suddenly burst into laughter and clapped Ricard on the shoulder in a comradely fashion. Ricard was taken aback for a moment but he too joined in the laughter.
“ I would not presume to threaten you, Lord Ricard. Your honesty and honor are unquestionable.” Iaius threw his words back at him. “ To spare you from the Council’s wrath, I have rectified your little misdeed.” Ricard’s eyes narrowed in puzzlement.
“ What are you talking about?”
“ From blood you arise, to blood shall you dissolve.” Iaius’s voice took on a menacing aura. Ricard backed off in fear as he felt the arcane power in the Count’s words. “ From ashes you derive pleasure, to ashes shall you return!”
“ What are you doing?” Ricard demanded. He reached to the pistol tucked in the back of his trousers. “ Stop it!” The lesser vampires looked up from their feast and glared at the Count. A few of them produced switchblades, pistols and spiked knuckles from their leathers.
“ This piece of **** is bothering Lord Ricard!” The vampire who brought Jessica in said. “ Let’s waste him!”
“ From sorrow you take joy, let no sorrow be shed at your passing!” Iaius clapped his hands once and every vampire that partook of Jessica’s blood fell to the floor, screaming and writhing in agony.
“ Stop it!” Ricard leveled his pistol at the Count’s head but Iaius caught the vampire lord’s wrist in one hand and shoved it aside. The weapon recoiled and the bullet tore into the chest of another vampire in the complex. The creature was thrown backwards, a gaping wound in its upper torso. Iaius started another chant and Ricard shrieked in agony as the pistol fell from suddenly nerveless fingers. The vampire lord’s weapon hand shriveled into a skeletal claw as Iaius continued his chant.
The flesh of the lesser vampires on the floor writhed and roiled as they trashed about in agony. Before long, it started to dissolve and flow off their bones. With a final piercing scream, the children of Lord Ricard perished. All that was left of them were puddles of gore and the leathers that they wore.
“ Death is even more horrible to face as a vampire than as a human.” Iaius said softly. He released Ricard’s wrist and turned away. “ Your time will come as well, Lord Ricard. Fear not.”
“ You bastard…” Ricard’s voice was wracked with agony. He swung his head about and screamed at the rest of the vampires in his disco. “ Kill him! Kill him!”
A few vampires took an involuntary step forward due to the commanding power present in Ricard’s voice but they caught themselves soon enough. They flinched under Iaius glare, at his red eyes hidden behind his tinted spectacles.
“ Who dares…?” Count Iaius’s words were low. He had no challengers. Silently, the mob of the undead parted to form a path for the Count to make his way to the exit.
His boots and walking stick clicking on the tiles of the floor, Iaius left.
The Kilted Crusader
Sat, 7th Dec '02, 6:38pm
Exciting stuff, you never fail to please! ;)
Sun, 8th Dec '02, 12:54am
All hail Shura, king of insanity! Not that thats a bad thing...
Sat, 4th Jan '03, 1:50am
Here's the belated next chapter, folks...
Hope White Wolf does not sue me.
The swearing was very neccessary to reflect a modern world, so do pardon the censorship. It would be very strange if the characters went: ' you piece of slime' instead of ' you piece of ****'.
Chapter Three: Sanguine Seraph
The man blinked in confusion at the kaleidoscopic barrage of neon glows and flashing lights. He flinched at the rush of air caused by the countless cars streaking down the roads. The smoke drenched air was abuzz with the roar of engines and the din of people as they hustled about their hectic lives. The sun had set less than an hour ago but the streets still teemed with activity. An errant briefcase grazed the man’s shin as it swung about like a pendulum on its owners’ precarious grip. The owner, speaking rapidly into a cell phone, was oblivious to the fact.
“ A bit too much for you, eh?” Marcus said pulling the man out of the path of a rampaging cyclist that was followed closely by a pair of youths in baggy trousers on skateboards. Behind them, a portly policeman wheezed and hollered.
“ Hey you! No cycling and skateboarding on the sidewalks!” One of the youths turned and stuck his tongue out at the policeman before vanishing around a corner. Varleon rubbed his forehead slowly, trying to clear his thoughts.
“ What infernal spirit has possessed these folk?” He muttered. Marcus laughed, clutching his sides.
“ Spoken like a true old-timer!” He said, through breaks in his laughter. “ This,” Marcus swept his hand in a wide arc to encompass the chaotic scene before them. “ Is the twenty second century. Welcome to Magra Serra!” Varleon glared at Marcus balefully. The vampire’s cocky attitude was beginning to wear his considerable patience thin.
“ Magra Serra is one of the major cities of the Union States.” Marcus went on to elaborate. “ The country’s key industries base their headquarter offices here, along with their main factories at the outskirts.” Behind them, the Von Seros Building loomed. Eighty stories high, the building would cast an imposing shadow when the sun was still in the sky. “ This is also the lady Von Seros’s domain. All of our kind come under her jurisdiction while in Magra Serra, though you would not have known it by the way the city is now.”
“ Our kind…” Varleon mused, studying his companion. Marcus wore the flesh of a young man in his early twenties with a head of blond, spiked hair. The younger vampire was clad in a leather jacket and a pair of jeans. He had two heavy caliber pistols strapped to his body with shoulder holsters. The weapons were hidden from sight by his leather jacket, which was zipped up to the collar. Marcus sighed and laid a hand on Varleon’s shoulder. He began steering him away.
“ I’m sure it would be lovely to stand here all night, but the lady told me to show you around. I’ll bring you into town, just try not to freak out too much, okay?” Varleon shrugged off the hand upon his shoulder.
“ I shall try.” His words were clipped and terse. “ Lead the way, and I shall follow.”
“ Woah…chill out, old-timer.” Marcus backed off. He sighed again and began walking. “ Come along, then. The night won’t last, you know.” He said over his shoulder.
Clammy hands, their nails jammed with filth, groped at Varleon’s feet. A fat man clad in piecemeal clothing slobbered as he tried to form a coherent sentence. Varleon did not pull away in disgust. Instead, he stared curiously at the cowering human.
“ Red Angel…the lights…pretty lights…” Drool fell from his ruined lips. “ They sing…they scream of your return…Red Angel…shatter the Pale Ones, battle the Dark Claw…”
“ What are you trying to say, good sir?” Varleon bent forward, seeking to help the man to his feet but the man shrieked in terror and scuttled backwards.
“ No! Your touch kills!” He slobbered. “ The lights say! The lights say!” Varleon stood there, a perplexed expression on his face until he felt Marcus tap him gently on the back.
“ Leave him alone, old-timer.” He said. There was a sad look on his face. “ You can’t do anything for him.”
“ Why has he lost his wits?” Varleon asked. “ His madness bears an air of unnaturalness.” Marcus pointed to the crook of the fat man’s elbow and Varleon directed his gaze there. The dirty flesh was yellow and purple with countless needle marks.
“ I don’t know what he’s juicing himself up with, but it’s not good.” Marcus growled softly. “ Hell! None of them are!” Comprehension dawned upon Varleon, along with a certain amount of incredulity.
“ Why would anyone seek such torment?” Marcus shrugged at the question.
“ Maybe their dreams are better than the here and now.” The younger vampire turned away. “ Let’s go.” Varleon nodded slowly and fell in pace with him.
“ You’re an Archon, right?” Varleon nodded again at the question and Marcus grinned.
“ The older ones used to talk about you, you know. Apparently, you could kick the asses of the whole Chaos Cult single-handedly, one at a time or all together. The lady was so ecstatic when she found you that I thought she was going to have an orgasm or something…of course…someone like her never had an orgasm before…heh…heh…” The younger vampire laughed at Varleon’s indignant hiss.
“ She is the ruling Councilor here! You would be wise to watch your tone!” He warned. Marcus waved that notion away, as if the concept of propriety was an obsolete and outdated one. It probably was, Varleon thought gloomily.
“ Back to the ass-kicking thing. If half of what has been said about you is true, then that would be a sight to see indeed: A complete reversal of roles for once!”
“ You have fought the Cult before?” Varleon asked, bringing another bout of bitter laughter from Marcus.
“ Well, my definition of fighting includes keeping my head down and talking softly and learning how to beg and plead really well.” He replied. Varleon looked at Marcus once more and was stunned by a revelation.
“ How long have you been a vampire?”
“ Six years. It’s my twenty-eighth birthday today.” Marcus smirked. “ Sing me a birthday song, will you?”
“ Lilliana told me that you were the oldest and most powerful vampire serving her.”
“ She’s right. Besides me, there are three others that the lady Changed herself a year ago.” Varleon was shocked into silence. He knew how Lilliana chose her progeny. Raised from young with the knowledge of their eventual fate, the prospective vampire would receive an intensive education in leadership, administration, management and combat. Marcus did not look like anything Lilliana would have chosen.
“ The Chaos Cult killed the rest, old-timer.” A twinge of pain flashed through Marcus’s eyes for an instant and then it was gone. “ They have swelled in numbers. More than a hundred Leeches run rampant, heedless of the lady’s rule.”
“ I see.” There was no worry on Varleon’s face, only a cold calculating look as he contemplated the numbers Marcus had told him. The pair arrived at the entrance of a pub. A neon sign hung above the door. Its glowing letters named the establishment ‘ Oblivion Unfocused’ . It was a walk that took slightly less than ten minutes from the Von Seros Building, despite the encounter with the incoherent slob.
“ The barkeep’s a right sort of fellow. Knows about us.” Marcus pushed open the glass doors. An electric chime tinkled as an announcement of their entry into a small, neatly kept pub with leather furniture and a well-stocked bar. “ I’ll just collect my wheels from Howard and we’ll get on with your tour, okay?” Varleon nodded, though he had only a vague of idea what Marcus was saying. He trailed behind the younger vampire as Marcus approached the bar where a middle-aged man with a gray, receding hairline polished a glass with a piece of cloth. The barkeeper’s mouth turned up into a quirk of a smile as he noticed Marcus.
“ Hey kiddo.” Howard narrowed his eyes as Varleon came into view. The Archon noticed the shrewd light in the barkeeper’s eyes. “ Who’s your friend?”
“ Varleon. He’s new in town. The lady told me to show him around.” Marcus replied. Howard’s suspicious gaze did not relent.
“ Heard nothing about new Leeches, no offense to you, kiddo, arriving in Magra Serra.” He mused aloud.
“ Even you can’t possibly know everything, Howard.” Marcus pointed out. “ Look, I’m just here to collect my wheels, right? We’ll talk again some other night.” Howard grinned and tossed him a key. The vampire snatched it deftly out of the air. A piece of metal crafted into the shape of a grossly deformed puppy with a huge bone between its cartoonish jaws dangled from a chain looped to the key.
“ Watch your back, kiddo.” Howard said, before picking up another glass and polishing it as well. Marcus gestured for Varleon to follow him.
“ Later, Howard. I’ll leave the keys under your door as usual.” Marcus called over his shoulder. The younger vampire took a few steps towards the back door of the pub that led to a small garage and stopped abruptly.
“ What is it?” Varleon asked, his gaze following Marcus’s to a figure seated at a table next to the back door. The vampire wore a long, black coat and silvery hair spilled over his shoulders. A top hat rested on the table and a walking stick, its length elaborately engraved with writhing demons, leaned against an empty chair. There was a dry, rustling sound as the vampire flipped the pages of a tome that was seemingly bound in leather. Varleon knew otherwise, though. His keen sense of smell told him that the book was written on and bound in human skin.
“ Count Iaius.” Marcus’s voice came as a dry whisper. Varleon sensed the younger vampire tensing.
“ One of the Chaos Cult?”
“ No!” Varleon noted the discomfort in the reply.
“ But an enemy nonetheless?” He questioned. Marcus’s expression turned grim and stony.
“ My enemy, not the lady’s.” The words were forced through gritted fangs. Seeing Varleon’s puzzled look, Marcus shook his head dismissively. “ It’s a long story, old-timer. I can’t be bothered to explain. Let’s go.” He continued walking towards the back door. Marcus pushed it open and was halfway through, Varleon close behind, when the Count spoke.
“ Marcus Allen.” The Count’s voice was strong and musical. Marcus froze in mid-step. “ How is Claris?” Varleon caught a flash of white fangs in the slight smile that appeared on the Count’s face and was startled to find Marcus growling softly as the words were said. The younger vampire was trembling with the effort of self-control and after a moment, he stalked off, letting the door swing loosely on its hinges. Varleon caught it gently before it could slam. Count Iaius started chuckling softly to himself.
“ It is unwise to provoke an Archon, Count.” Varleon’s voice interrupted the Count’s dark thoughts. He stopped chuckling and turned to regard Varleon through his tinted spectacles. It took a while before recognition dawned upon the Count.
“ It is you!” He gasped, before recovering his composure rapidly. The Count stood and sketched an archaic bow to which Varleon responded with a nod of the head. “ You have awakened after all, ancient one. Your reputation has preceded you.”
“ You were the one who helped Lilliana exhume me.” The Archon stated, his voice impassive. Count Iaius nodded, a sardonic look on his face.
“ I would never have thought that any vampire could maintain a hold on existence in such conditions for such a long time, but here you are standing before me, as hale and hearty as any one of our kind can be.” He mused, tapping one long pallid finger along an equally pallid cheek. “ The Sanguine Seraph must be mighty indeed.”
“ What did you call me?” The question burned to be asked upon Varleon’s tongue and he would have asked it if not for the troubling thoughts that plagued him. The fat man had called him ‘ red angel.’ Instead, the Archon spoke sternly.
“ I shall treat any insults directed to my fellow Archon as if they were addressed to me, Count. I hope you understand that.” The grin on the Count’s face grew even wider and he bowed once more. When he spoke again, his words were laced with sarcasm
“ As milord Archon commands.” He looked at Varleon thoughtfully. “ There are songs and sagas sung about your power in the respective legends of the mortals, the faerie and the undead. I wonder how much truth they hold.” Varleon glared at the Count a moment longer, and then spun on his heel to follow Marcus. As the door swung shut behind him, he heard the Count speak again.
“ Perhaps I shall find out in battle…”
Marcus stood beside a car with dark blue paintwork. He looked up as Varleon approached. There was a sheepish quality to his features.
“ I heard most of what you said. Thanks.” The words came out hurriedly, in an embarrassed tone. Varleon waved the gratitude away. Marcus grinned and opened the door. He showed Varleon how to do so for the front passenger seat as well and the Archon clambered in awkwardly, doing his best to imitate Marcus before closing the door on his side of the car.
“ You do know what this is, right?” Marcus asked. Varleon gave an uneasy shrug, as if reluctant to answer.
“ Ivan has told me about ‘cars’.” The words sounded strange and foreign in his mouth. “ They are supposedly run by machines called ‘engines’.” The grin widened on Marcus’s face.
“ You’re a real scream, you know that? Strap up! We’re going for a spin!” Varleon fastened his seat belt, again imitating the younger vampire. He gave a startled jump as Marcus started the engine and revved it. The Archon gazed disbelievingly upon the glowing numbers of the display panel. With an engine’s roar and a muffled curse of terror from Varleon, the two vampires drove off into the night
The streets of Magra Serra flashed by and Varleon soaked in their sights, along with Marcus’s rambling commentary on the different districts, neighborhoods and regions of influence on the city’s mortal powers. Gangs were common in Magra Serra and they possessed considerable strength in numbers, firearms and the amount of drugs they have access to.
“ Such difference….my slumber has been long indeed.” Varleon kept his thoughts silent, letting Marcus’s voice and the din that he called ‘music’ playing from the car’s radio fill the vehicle’s interior. “ My duties come to mind easily enough, but my recollections do not include anything of my life in the years past. Am I to start anew, in this new age of steel and concrete and noise?”
The hours passed and human activity gradually dwindled. Soon, Marcus drove his vehicle down empty streets, silent save for the occasional scuttle of a rat or the rustle of a newspaper floating upon a gust of wind across the concrete. With the dimming of the light from the countless buildings, the city seemed to lose its life. Like a giant concrete tomb open to the stinking night air, Magra Serra stood lifeless and silent shortly after midnight. Marcus ceased his rambling and the vehicle cruised on aimlessly. After a while, he stopped his vehicle at the side of a street lined with abandoned houses and the two vampires got out.
Marcus set both arms upon the roof of his car and rested his chin upon them. Varleon stood straight, his gaze faraway and troubled as his thoughts whirled in a disorganized cycle.
“ When did you start being an Archon, old-timer?” Marcus asked. Varleon shook his head slowly, a rueful and almost apologetic smile on his face.
“ My memory fails me but I know I have stood in the cities of ancient Greece, fought for Rome and traversed the sands of Egypt, climbing the unfinished pyramids.” He replied, his voice sad and slow. “ My duties take me great distances into peril. I knew Lilliana when she was still a mortal child…and then…centuries after that…I went to sleep.”
“ Damn, you knew the lady when she was still human?” Marcus said disbelievingly. “ You’re old, alright. And all this while you have been an Archon?”
“ Why?” The simple question tool Varleon aback and he had no answer for a few moments. When he replied, it was with obvious difficulty.
“ To…fight evil…” The Archon mused, his eyes closed and his brow furrowed with the effort of remembering.
“ To fight evil and the forces of madness and destruction with a strength born of darkness…that is part of the vow I took upon my installation as an Archon for the Council.” Marcus stared at Varleon incredulously as he made the proclamation for a while, and then he burst into laughter.
“ Where’s your cape, superhero?” The younger vampire managed to get out before his mirth overtook him and his sides heaved with laughter. If a vampire could shed tears, Marcus would have been laughing until his cheeks were wet with the salty fluid. A few long minutes passed and his mirth eventually faded but he saw that Varleon’s expression was perfectly serious. “ You’re kidding me, right? Look at us! We have to drink blood to survive! What kind of hero does that?”
“ The duties of an Archon have never consisted of heroism.” Varleon said somberly and for a moment, to Marcus, the Archon looked very old and tired indeed, despite the ageless nature of the undead. “ No, never heroism. Even the most demanding Councilor would never demand that from an Archon.”
Marcus kept silent, for he had no idea what to say in response. Many more minutes went by in silence, the two vampires each engrossed in their own thoughts. Varleon tensed suddenly and a fraction of a second later, Marcus looked up as well, a worried expression on his face.
“ Blood has been spilled.” Varleon confirmed Marcus’s suspicions. “ Violence and malice linger in the air.” Marcus pointed at one of the many abandoned houses along the street.
“ There.” He said. Varleon nodded and set off for the building, his footsteps brisk. Marcus hesitated for a moment before running after him. The door hung haphazardly by a single warped hinge. Varleon pushed it open gently and entered. Terrified sobbing was audible amongst the deranged chuckles that echoed off the walls.
“ The basement.” Marcus gestured to a set of stairs leading down. A soft red glow emanated from the bowels of the house. The two Archons, one young, the other ancient, descended and came to a door, which was slightly ajar. The stench of blood was strong as they looked into the room.
“ Six vampires clad in shiny black leather capered madly around a group of teenagers huddled in the center of the room. A disemboweled corpse lay in a corner, its viscera spilled upon the floor. The corpse wore the face of a fifteen-year-old boy. His death had been painful. Marcus cursed under his breath.
“ Cultists.” Varleon interjected softly through the quiet stream of obscenities that poured from Marcus’s mouth. The younger vampire nodded, an expression of anger mixed with resignation upon his face.
“ Your duty, Archon?” Varleon spoke again after a short period of time in which Marcus had remained silent. Another teenager had her heart torn from her ribs and Marcus shut his eyes, as if to block out the sight. It failed to block out the screams.
“There are six of them, two of us.” Varleon nodded the anguish on the younger vampire’s face and the visibly knotting muscles on the back of his hands as he said that.
“ You know fear, and that is a good thing. Let it consume all else and it will cease to be so, however.” The Archon’s voice still retained its quiet and even quality.
“ Damn it! How can you stand there and talk so coldly while all this is happening?” Marcus snarled, baring his fangs. Varleon’s expression did not change.
“ How can you stand there while all this is happening, then?” The Archon said. Marcus stood dumbfounded for a moment as he sought to come up with an answer. Movement in his peripheral vision dismissed that concern, however. The cultists had noticed their presence. One of them turned towards the door, clenching and unclenching his fists menacingly.
“ Ah, **** it all!” Marcus cried and he kicked open the door, his hands slipping into his leather jacket. He drew his pistols in a blur of motion and the first bullet left the barrel before the door slammed against its ledge. One round caught a vampire between the eyes and his head erupted in a shower of gore. The rest of the cadaver crumbled into dust in mid-air, showering the basement with gray ash.
Another bullet slammed home into a vampire’s shoulder. The impact tore off the entire arm and the vampire shrieked in agony as gouts of blood pumped from the ragged stump. The others moved like quicksilver, their bodies seemingly streaking blurs to the mortal eye, avoiding Marcus’s shots.
Marcus gritted his fangs and blasted away repeatedly, every one of his bullets cutting through the bodily afterimages left behind as the cultists moved from one point to another. The thunder of his pistols ended as the twin chambers clicked emptily and the last shell casings rattled on the concrete. Beyond the first two shots, Marcus had not scored a single hot. The cultist vampires leered horribly as they looked upon the empty pistols in Marcus’s hands.
One of the cultists, a bald vampire whose body was encased in countless leather straps smiled and held up both of his gloved hands. Inhuman talons burst through the black leather and his three remaining companions cackled. Marcus tensed in fear but Varleon laid a hand upon his shoulder.
“ You have done very well, Archon Marcus. The Council will be pleased.” He said. The younger vampire realized he had just passed a sort of test but he was too filled with terror to take further heed of that fact.
“ I killed one of them, man!” He cried. “ I’m dead! Oh ****, I’m dead!” The bald vampire chuckled in amusement.
“ That’s right, little Leech.” He leapt forward, talons outstretched and Marcus could not even begin to distinguish the movement, so fast the cultist was. There was a crackle of snapping bone and the cultist fell back, clutching the side of his face. Varleon now stood some distance in front of Marcus, putting himself between the young Archon and the cultists. He was crouched low, a fist clenched and an elbow crooked, as if he had just thrown a punch. Marcus had not even seen him move.
“ You…can move like them…” He said slowly, his eyes full of awe. Varleon glanced sideways at him, amusement on his face.
“ So can you…if you only knew how.” The response was cut off by a blood-curdling shriek as the bald cultist climbed to his feet.
“ Your death will be all the more painful for that!” He promised. The words were slurred, mostly due to the fat that half his face sagged and protruded in the wrong places with shattered bones.
“ Our deaths will not concern you.” Varleon replied. There was a blue glow spreading on the flesh where Varleon’s fist had connected. The bald cultist screamed and launched himself at the Archon again but this time Varleon did not move. The cultist’s shattered face registered a moment of surprise before the blue glow suffused his entire body and it fell apart, going rapidly through the various stages of decomposition. A few specks of ash landed on Varleon’s shirt and the Archon dusted it away unconsciously. Marcus was dumbfounded, as were the three remaining cultists.
Varleon closed his eyes and let the Negative energy flow through him. It had been a long, long time since he had called upon his Power. There was a bluish tinge to the Archon’s flesh. Unclenching his fists, Varleon spread his arms wide and the blue glow faded.
“ Your evil has gone unpunished for too long.” His voice was soft as he addressed the cultists. “ I have not seen such depravity since the days of Rome! You have disregarded the rules of the Council and as an Archon, I hereby Recall you to Sorrow!”
“ What’s he saying?” A cultist with the face of a young man and a blonde crew cut asked. One of his companions fell back a step, her face expressing disbelief mixed with fear.
“ It’s old Leech talk, you idiot!” He’s just sentenced us to death!” The cultist with the crew cut leered.
“ Yeah? He and what army? Let’s get him first!” Fingers clenched like talons, the three cultists charged at Varleon. The Archon avoided a raking claw and a sweeping kick, quickstepping over the blow to do so; and then there were two sharp cracks as his fists drove home into a vampire’s ribcage each. Negative energy coursed through him once more and there was only one cultist remaining, leaping high over the writhing and crumbling remains of his comrades and kicking out. Varleon flipped his body backwards, putting his weight upon his hands and let the cultist soar harmlessly above him. He recovered faster than the cultist and placed one hand on his neck before the murderous vampire could turn around.
“ No! Please! I’ll do whatever you say!” He begged. “ Please…” His body fell away as Varleon held the cultist’s now unattached head high, the stump of the neck balancing upon his palm. Within a few seconds, the head disintegrated as well, leaving the Archon with nothing but a palm full of ash.
“ Alas, this is what we are in the end…” Varleon mused as he let the ash trail through his fingers. The last cultist that had her arm torn off by Marcus’s bullet now made a mad, shrieking dash for the door. She barged past Marcus and ran off into the night, her howls of terror echoing in the empty streets.
“ You’re letting her go?” He asked numbly. He had been very shaken by the events of the last few minutes. Varleon nodded.
“ Let them know the Council’s stand now.” He turned towards the teenagers and one of them screamed. The Archon spread his arms wide. “ Look at me, mortals. Hear my voice.” He said.
Marcus staggered slightly under the compelling power of Varleon’s voice. As a vampire himself, he was granted a slight immunity to supernatural powers of persuasion that belonged to his kind though that immunity varied on how strong the Compeller was. Varleon’s strength in this aspect was not great, though it was more than enough for the frightened and weary teenagers. The young humans swayed to the hypnotic rhythm of his voice.
“ Sleep. Sleep and forget.” The Archon said, his brow furrowed in concentration. “ Sleep. Now.” The humans nodded off into unconsciousness and Varleon turned away, the strain obvious on his face.
“ Not the greatest of my talents…” He muttered self-deprecatingly. Marcus could only shake his head in silent awe.
“ So the legends were true, then. The Sanguine Seraph has indeed returned.” The younger vampire muttered. Hearing the title twice in a single night caused something to flare in Varleon’s memory. Yes, that had been his unofficial title amongst the vampires of times long past. Images of a hideous crone, her face covered with boils came unbidden to his mind’s eye. The crone cackled, showing her greenish-black rotten teeth. Both her eyes were pus-filled beads. In contrast, the departure of soft skin, bright eyes and long, flowing hair from his presence seemed so recent in that particular frame of time within his memory.
“ She called you an angel, blood-stained Archon. You take joy in that title, do you not?” The Crone’s hideous laughter sounded again. “ And so you will be an angel, a champion of the Council, an enforcer of their rules and their avatar of battle and conflict. Go forth and kill, Archon! Go forth with your crimson wings of death, Sanguine Seraph!” And the Archon then, young of age and full of impetuous fury, had screamed and leaping forward, impaled the crone with a broadsword that had been desecrated by the most unholy rites of the ancient vampire magi. Blood bubbled from her hideous mouth and she smiled once, a terrifying sight and then she spoke again.
“ Her blood will stain your wings as well, Sanguine Seraph. Again and again and again…” The images blurred away and Varleon found Marcus shaking him roughly. Anxiety and concern was apparent on his face.
“ You alright, old-timer? You spaced-out there for a while, had me worried. We’ve got to go now. Sun’s coming up in a couple of hours.
Varleon nodded slightly and turned, leaving behind him a scene of carnage in which a small group of young humans slept peacefully, their slumber undisturbed by dreams.
Sun, 5th Jan '03, 8:40am
DAMN! All I can say is DAMN! That's some good quality stuff! I loved the stories about Shura but this is even better... Keep at it! I love vampire stories and this one is hell mad! :thumb:
Sun, 5th Jan '03, 11:53am
Read above post :thumb:
Sun, 5th Jan '03, 3:07pm
Read above post as well.
Fri, 10th Jan '03, 2:59pm
Read above post (cause those are the only words to describe this piece)
Tue, 28th Jan '03, 10:29am
when is the next installment?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? I CANT WAIT ANYMORE!!!! ITS TAKING AGES!!!!!
The Kilted Crusader
Tue, 28th Jan '03, 5:47pm
I think shorty's hit the nail on the head with that one.
Sun, 2nd Feb '03, 3:58am
Ok, ok, here's the next part. I intend to go full steam on my Shura story for the time being so as to finish it. Archon will have to wait.
Chapter Four: The Chaos Cult
Tzana Icarso was ancient, even for an immortal vampire. He reclined upon a couch lined with silk. The soft light in the room fell upon his wrinkled and pitted skin, scarred for all eternity by his countless battles. Enchanted blades, holy water and sunlight have made their mark upon the vampire lord. The fact that he had survived them all spoke of his great strength and cunning. Demons quailed at the mention of his name and twelve Angels decorated the walls of his private chambers with their carcasses. The forces of Heaven and Hell were powerless against Tzana Icarso and the vampire delighted in it. For millennia, the Chaos Cult had terrorized and slaughtered in his name.
“ I was there when Creation was young! I slew the First Man and defiled the First Woman and I left their children to breed so I could feed from them at my leisure!” He muttered to himself, his voice a raspy thing in the musty air of his private chamber. “ All the Leeches obeyed my will, for it was paramount beyond the wishes of the Creator!” Anger began to simmer in his vile, twisted heart as he dwelled upon his recollections.
“ And then came the Angels and the humans called Paladins! But they were of little consequence, for darkness was ever mightier than light!” Tzana Icarso raged, shaking his deformed claws in the air. “ No! It was the Council of Twilight that rose up and opposed my will! My Childe perished in the thousands in the war that followed and a swathe of devastation was cut across the human population! Still, my might prevailed, for I was Prime amongst the Leeches!”
“ A human came from the shifting sands and swamps of the Abandoned Plains, a mere human! He accepted the darkness the Council offered him and gathered a band of traitors to his cause and named them Archons! The touch of an Archon was instant and final death to any Leech!” The rant went on and on. “ The First Archon, named Guilanox, soon brought the war to my doorstep and though I slew a great number of his band, their touch shattered my body and sent me into a long slumber. When I awoke a millennium later, Guilanox was gone, cheating me of my vengeance…”
“ With my strength restored, I once again sought to bring about Chaos upon Creation. Archons still remained, though their numbers have dwindled over the years. Without Guilanox to lead them, they fell to my might one by one. I was so sure of turning the world into a reflection of Hell when once again I was thwarted. The Last and least powerful of the Archons stepped over the corpses of his brethren and wracked my body with his touch! I was borne away by my slaves and though his touch was not strong enough to banish me, it damaged me beyond all repair!”
“ Know this!” Tzana Icarso screeched, snarling at the vampires that attended to him. “ Know that this wretch lying before you was once ruler and lord of all. Creation was mine to violate and Life was mine to corrupt! Know this!”
The only vampire standing in the chamber would have yawned in boredom, if he still knew how. He was ancient as well, though far less so than Tzana Icarso. Yet, he could crumble buildings with his mind and dominate a thousand humans with a single glance. He could toss a ton of steel like a human would toss a ball of rubber and leather and move so fast that the very particles of light were visible to his eyes. Zelkan nodded patronizingly as he listened to his predecessor’s ranting. The Chaos Cult now obeyed his will alone, but he needed Tzana Icarso’s wisdom.
“ Please, tell me of the Crimson Tyrants, Great Lord.” He beseeched, trying to put as much sincerity into his voice as possible. Zelkan had learnt considerable patience over the years and he exercised that virtue now, or the raving wretch before him would have met his final death long ago.
“ Ah…” A look of wonder came over Tzana Iscaro’s red eyes. “ They are the gods, the ones who planted our seed in this world right under the nose of the Creator!”
“ How does one contact them, Great Lord?” Zelkan asked. Tzana Iscaro nodded, and leaned forward to speak into his ear…
The leader of the Chaos Cult walked into the night air, where a slick black limousine was awaiting him. He adjusted his tie so that it was straight and put on a pair of dark glasses to conceal his red eyes. The moonlight fell upon his shoulders and his long, dark hair. Zelkan got into his vehicle and the chauffer closed the door. A screen flashed into view as the engine started and the limousine moved off.
“ Good evening, Mr. Z.” A female voice rang over the speaker. Zelkan regarded the face of his personal assistant, a vampire that wore the face of a young woman and nodded briskly.
“ Yes, what is on my schedule tonight?” He asked. His personal assistant proceeded to rattle off a list of meetings and issues with a few prominent members of human society. As she droned on, Zelkan sighed. As the head of the largest company in the Union States, there was a seemingly endless list of numbingly mundane chores for him to attend to. He would have delegated his work to his many able minions, but he took a certain pleasure in his role as a CEO. It was the only thing that allowed him to retain a link to his humanity and despite his evil nature, or because of it; the vampire lord maintained a death-grip upon that very last connection to his mortal life.
“ There have been reports of trouble in Magra Serra, Mr. Z.” His personal assistant said abruptly. The look of passive disinterest upon Zelkan’s face vanished in an instant. He crooked an eyebrow, bidding her to elaborate.
“ Believers have met with Council resistance. So far, twenty Believers have been destroyed in Magra Serra.” Zelkan had to keep the look of utter surprise from his face. He had not cared much for Magra Serra, despite the city’s industrial importance to the Union States. Nikolas, an Elder of Chaos, reigned there and the twisted creature terrorized the humans despite repeated pleas from Zelkan to hold back his appetites somewhat.
There was also an unofficial agreement between him and the Councilor of Magra Serra. He let Lilliana Von Seros run the city and his own plants and factories reaped the profits. As long as she continued to do so, Zelkan would not send in the Dusk Fangs, his elite vampire bodyguards and the Cult’s answer to the Archons, to remove and replace her.
“ Lord Nikolas said something about an Archon before his line went dead earlier this evening, Mr. Z.” Zelkan had to keep his jaw from dropping at the news. The Archons, disciples of the hated Guilanox, have been destroyed, most of them by his own hand. Now, young Council vampires called themselves Archons in a bid to impress their foes. Worse still, Councilors took it upon themselves to bestow such titles officially on their progeny, boosting their already considerable egos. The new Archons had none of the skill, cunning or power the original ones had. They were a few moments of cruel amusement for any Believer who ran into them at best.
“ Nikolas must be getting soft and useless.” Zelkan snapped. He glanced through the tinted windows of his limousine. “ I have already arrived. Expect me in my office in five minutes.” His personal assistant inclined her head respectfully and the screen flickered off.
“ Tell me more.” Zelkan instructed as he picked up a plastic file from his desk and scanned its contents.
“ The Archon, according to Lord Nikolas, has destroyed most of dwellings of our Believers. There have been a number of Believers who have defected to the Council out of fear.”
“ What?” The vampire lord snapped his head up and his personal assistant took an involuntary step back at the dangerous gleam in his eyes.
“ He reported that his very own dwelling was under attack before he was cut off, Mr. Z.” A slight tremble made its way across his cold face and inexplicably, he smiled.
“ An Archon, you say?” The mere possibility that this Archon might be the genuine article sent a tingle of excitement down his spine that he had not felt in centuries. Laughter bubbled from his throat and for many moments, Zelkan’s shoulders heaved in amusement. Finally, his laughter ceased.
“ Open the door.” He told his assistant. The younger vampire jumped at the abrupt instructions but she did so quickly. Another vampire stood in the doorway. There was a gleam in Zelkan’s eyes as he beckoned to the vampire, like one might beckon to a favored child.
“ Come to me.” He whispered. The vampire stepped into the office’s illumination. She was slender and petite; her height barely past five feet and a mass of pale hair framed a delicate face with the complexion and coldness of smooth porcelain. Despite her apparent frailty, there was a massive broadsword strapped to her back. She walked into Zelkan’s embrace and the vampire lord’s fingers stroked the side of her face and ran through her hair.
“ Your enemies have perished.” She said, her voice ethereal and beautiful yet toneless and flat.
“ I knew I could count on you.” Zelkan said, hugging her tightly. The vampire did not return the embrace, just accepted it numbly in the manner of someone who hardly knew what was happening to her at all.
Nikolas held an assault rifle in each hand. They roared and bucked, discharging their specially accelerated ammunition that even a vampire would have difficulty dodging at the Archon walking calmly towards him. His hands glowing with a blue radiance, the Archon moved them in a blur, plucking the bullets from the air without lessening his pace.
“ Die!” The vampire Elder shrieked, terror evident in his voice. “ Die!” Finally, his assault rifles ceased their deadly shower, their magazines emptied. The Archon spread his arms and opened his palms, letting the still glowing rounds clatter to the dirty floor. He came closer and Nikolas could make out his features.
“ You!” The vampire Elder breathed, trembling in fear.
“ Yes.” Varleon replied. “ It has been a long time, Nikolas. I still recall the time you were nothing but a scuttling toady. I should have destroyed you then.” Nikolas sank to his knees, raising his hands in a plea for mercy.
“ Please, don’t kill me!” He begged. “ I’ll do anything you say, anything!”
“ Did you show mercy to the humans I found in your torture chamber, Nikolas? I could barely piece together one complete human corpse, so cruel and excessive the carnage was.” Varleon stepped forward and placed his palm on Nikolas’s forehead. “ Did you show mercy to the children in the orphanage you feasted on?” Nikolas gibbered incoherently.
“ No, you did not.” The Archon said. “ In the name of the Council, I Recall you to Sorrow.” Nikolas had time for one final scream before his body broke apart and a passing breeze scattered his ashes into the wind. Marcus stepped out from the shadows, his face strained with a mixture of fatigue and awe.
“ You did it! Holy ****, you really did it!” He exclaimed. Four weeks have passed since Varleon’s initial encounter with the Chaos Cultists. The Archon had been hard at work since, rooting out the dens of errant Leeches and offering them the Council’s rule or oblivion. Many chose Lilliana’s governance but more chose oblivion. Marcus did his best to aid Varleon but the Archon had needed little help. No Cultist could stand before him. Varleon offered the younger Archon a grim smile and shook his head.
“ This is but Lilliana’s domain, Marcus. The battle has just begun.”
The Kilted Crusader
Wed, 5th Feb '03, 4:15pm
You rock man! I love this story!
Sun, 16th Feb '03, 2:26pm
Praise Shura. PRAISE SHURA!!
Eze forces everybody to kneel and sing an ode to Shura
Sat, 15th Mar '03, 7:26pm
Well, this is but a small post. Updates will be coming soon. In the meantime, here's the next part! Do tell me what you think and please don't hold back on the criticism!
Interlude: Scars in Moonlight
The dressing chamber stank of sweat, puke and the odor of burnt weed. A gray haze, stinging to the eyes, emanated from a pile of cigarette butts that overflowed out of a gray and chipped ashtray. A half-filled syringe lay forgotten under a vomit-stained cushion. Three young men lay sprawled out upon the floor, virtually oblivious to their surroundings.
One of them let loose a racking cough, his legs heaving enough to knock an empty bottle of whiskey over. He staggered to his feet and made his way to a small cubicle where he bent over and retched into the toilet bowl within. Thick grayish yellow phlegm stained the dirty sides of the bowl but still the man coughed on. A trickle of red appeared amongst the foul mess the man had made and he expelled a mouthful of blood soon after.
With a fascination wrought of horror, the man looked into his own vomit. Pieces of diseased flesh floated inside the toilet bowl. A bitter chuckle escaped his lips. Turning to the basin beside the toilet bowl, he flicked the switch on the tap and splashed water over his face before regarding his visage in the dirty and cracked mirror.
Gray eyes, dull and shadowed by substance abuse, looked back at him. His dark, messy and greasy hair mingled with a week’s worth of facial hair. Derrick flinched at the sight of his own reflection, for he recognized the look of one who lived with his soul cloaked in fear.
A heavy thumping upon the door snapped him out of his contemplation.
“ Your band is up in five minutes! If you screw up this time, the boss is going to break your legs, you bastards!” A rough, gravelly voice traveled clearly from behind the thin wooden door. Derrick did not respond. He looked at his drummer and bassist and sighed. They would not return to the real world until late into the next day. Derrick picked up his guitar and slung it over his shoulders. His vision swimming in and out of focus, he tugged open the door of the dressing chamber and staggered down the dingy corridors that led backstage.
The journey seemed to go on forever and the shadows that shrouded the corridors became ever ominous with each step. Derrick screamed abruptly, throwing up his hands as if to ward off some unseen attacker. He fell onto his back in his panic, for in his mind’s eye, a creature that wore a human face but had canine fangs that lusted for warm blood reached out for him from the darkness. His fit of madness passed soon enough and Derrick found himself panting heavily and gazing into emptiness. He crawled to his feet and took a few hesitant steps forward before bending abruptly and vomiting again.
He reached the stairs leading onto the stage at last. There, a burly thug glowered at him, patting a short black sap in his hand.
“ This is your last chance, kid. The boss is sick of waiting for you to pay up with your performances. How many times have you and your band been a no-show because you were too bombed out on crack and drink?” He shoved Derrick roughly in the back, causing him to fall face-first upon the stairs. “ Get up there, you little ****! Show your face to the crowd and you’ll face the consequences if they’re not happy!”
Derrick stumbled up the stairs, his guitar swinging from his shoulders in a haphazard fashion. A backstage technician handed him a cable, which he plugged into his guitar. With an incoherent mumble, Derrick walked onto the stage and into the spotlight. The audience, a crowd clad in leather and spikes looked upon him silently in anticipation. Derrick swooned, his blood awash with synthetic chemicals and his consciousness poisoned with alcohol and weed. His body swayed drunkenly to and fro as the tension amongst the audience grew.
“ This is it, man. I’m going to fall flat on my face.” Derrick thought bitterly. Even if he was sober, he could hardly perform without the other members of his band who were lying unconscious in their dressing chamber now. He fell to his knees, letting his guitar clatter upon the stage. Boos rose from the audience and Derrick spotted more than one murderous expression. He threw his head back to laugh in their faces, for such an act would likely bring them swarming over the thugs hired to maintain order so that they could tear him limb from limb. A riot in which lives would be lost would most certainly ensue amidst the chaos.
A strong hand hooked itself under his arm and pulled him to his feet. His guitar was thrust back into his grasp and Derrick shook his head in puzzlement.
“ What the…” He mumbled, turning to face the person who had retrieved his guitar.
Derrick’s jaw dropped in shock as he looked upon the pale face of a young man with a mop of unruly brown hair. The young man whipped off the pair of shades hiding his eyes and Derrick could see that despite their blood-red hue, they shone with familiar mischief and friendship.
“ Marcus…” Derrick’s voice cracked as he said the name, the disbelief upon his face slowly fading to awed joy. “ It’s you! I thought you were dead!”
“ Not yet, you dumb ****.” Marcus snatched up a microphone. “ We’ve got a number to play!” Derrick fumbled in his pocket for his guitar pick and found it.
“ What should we do?” He asked, the fog clearing from his mind for the first time in years.
“ Scars in Moonlight ok?” Marcus suggested. Derrick frowned in confusion.
“ But…but Claris isn’t here. Who’ll do the drums, man?” A flicker of pain flashed across Marcus’s face but it was gone in an instant. He smiled confidently.
“ Don’t worry. Someone’s on it!” Marcus answered. Derrick cast a glance towards the drum set and caught sight of another man dressed immaculately in a jacket and shirt seated there; drum sticks at the ready. He nodded and Marcus spun to address the audience.
“ We apologize for the delay but here is our song, Scars in Moonlight!” Marcus’s powerful voice echoed off the underground confines of the club. Derrick noted that his friend had turned the microphone off but he left his questions unanswered as the drummer had already begun the starting beats of the song. His heart pulsing in exultation, Derrick ripped his pick down the six strings of the instrument that he knew so well. The lyrics flowed from Marcus’s throat, strong and beautiful and powerful.
Child of Sorrow
Waif of fate
How can you hope to see tomorrow?
Hold onto my hand if you will
But there’s little in comfort, less in thrills
Blue light washes over our skin
Our heads unbowed, we revel in sin
For we bear the marks of one
Who has broken from bondage
Our crime is the deed we have done
Scars in moonlight!
Born of father and of mother
Oh, the bitter laughter for
We knew neither
Clench your fists and grind your jaws
The battle for survival calls!
Blue light bathes our beings
Chains unfettered, this our doing
And we bear the marks of one
Who has been in unwanted keeping
Our joy is in the deed that was done
Scars in Moonlight!
Demons of Powder, Fiends of Fluid
Cackling over your misery
Can you hear their laughter?
Such is our fate, such is our lot
Fight them with hate burning hot!
Blue light falls upon our shoulders
Gather around, friends and lovers
We bear the marks of one
Damned but still living
Never remorseful of the deed that was done
Scars in Moonlight!
Derrick’s guitar screeched its solo as his fingers flashed up and down the instrument. Cold sweat ran down his face and his heart thumped painfully within his chest. Still he played, caught up in the music and memories long past. Behind Marcus and Derrick, the drummer carried on in perfect rhythm, complementing the two of them flawlessly, though Derrick had no idea how the drummer knew the song, for it had never been performed before, save in the privacy of a hired studio. The screech of the guitar softened to make way for the final verse of the song.
The master lies upon the soil
The tyrant’s back is broken
Here’s the end of his evil toil
His gift to us unforgotten!
Scars in Moonlight!
The audience broke into a rousing cheer as the song ended but Derrick hardly heard them, his thoughts flying back to his boyhood where he had lived on the streets with Marcus. The pair had been peddlers of crack and errand boys for Malibu, a petty crime lord, who was far from a benevolent master. A double-cross led to Malibu’s wild flight down a dark alley where the two boys, not yet fifteen, had waylaid him, crushing his spine with a lead pipe and slitting his throat with a shard of broken glass. Derrick ran a hand over his chest, fingering the puckered flesh, a result of Malibu’s cruel whippings. He held his head up high for a moment, reveling in the agony of his existence as his heart screamed from its exertion.
“ Scars in moonlight…” He muttered. Blood leaked from the corners of his mouth and he fell, spinning away into oblivion.
Derrick opened his eyes as a gust of cool air fanned his face. He looked around in confusion until he recognized his surroundings. He was on the roof of the now-abandoned Star Home, a gaming center that he and Marcus used to frequent in their childhood. From the roof, one had an unobstructed view of the neighborhood that they grew up in. Seeing that he was awake, Marcus flopped down beside him.
“ What happened?” Derrick began. “ Where have you been all these years? Where’s Claris?”
“ I found a new job, Derrick. I have had little opportunity to tear myself away from my duties over the last few years.” Marcus’s answer was evasive and indistinct, bringing forth a fresh sense of puzzlement to Derrick. Still, he lost the heart to question his long-lost friend.
“ I thought you were dead, you know. Since that…” Memories locked away within the depths of his soul surged and once again Derrick saw the fanged creature that had burst out from the darkness, eyes alight with bloodlust. His speech trailed off and his body convulsed in spasms of fear. He whimpered the words ‘Monster’ over and over again until Marcus grabbed his shoulders and shook him to calm him down.
“ It’s alright! It’s alright!” Marcus spoke into Derrick’s terror-stricken visage. “ The monster did not hurt me! Here I am now!” At length, Derrick regained his composure and fell back against the rusty metal pipe that he had been leaning against. He coughed and his blood, foul and black, sprayed the railing.
“ Cancer, along with a hundred other kinds of **** like liver failure and pneumonia.” Derrick said off-handedly as an explanation. He pulled back the sleeve of his filthy sweater to expose a gangrenous wound upon his forearm. Maggots writhed within the rotted flesh. “ Damned cut won’t heal, and it’s not the only one.” Marcus opened his mouth to speak but Derrick shot out another question first.
“ You did not give me a complete answer. What’s up with Claris? Where is she?” Derrick asked, his eyelids drooping heavily. An expression of heart-wrenching grief and agony appeared on Marcus’s face.
“ She left.” The words came out as a barely audible whisper. Derrick was surprised. Marcus and Claris had been inseparable. The idea of them going their separate ways was unthinkable.
“ After all this time, the fact that nothing lasted forever should have become pretty obvious to both of us…” Derrick mused. Marcus had no response. He remained silent, clenching and unclenching his fists. Derrick sighed, remembering the pale-haired, shy and quiet girl with the lovely smile so rarely seen that had bore such devotion to the brash and outspoken Marcus. There was a wet rupture somewhere within Derrick’s body and Marcus leapt up in alarm, for a pool of blood had begun to form beneath his slouching body.
“ Derrick!” Marcus cried, his voice tinged with hopelessness. Derrick smiled sadly, his eyes glazing over.
“ I always longed for somewhere free from all this decay, you know? Somewhere where the sun shone unfiltered through clouds of smog and children need not be the playthings of others.” He mumbled. With his last strength, Derrick turned his head to regard Marcus. “ Where each and everyone of us have the right to walk a path of our choice. Sounds stupid, eh?”
“ No…no…” Marcus said softly, cradling the head of his friend.
“ I’m really grateful that you stopped by, Marcus…but I’m really tired now. Just let me sleep a bit and we’ll go out for a beer later, ok?” Derrick’s voice was little more than a ghastly whisper, though he did not know it.
“ Ok…” Marcus began, but his words died in his throat as he realized that Derrick no longer heard anything. He arranged Derrick’s body into a comfortable position, leaning against a rusty metal pipe and placed his guitar upon his lap. Tears of blood rolled down the vampire’s pale cheeks but he blinked them away furiously.
Star Home blazed in the night, a funeral pyre for Derrick. Marcus walked away from it, his shoulders bowed with grief and towards another vampire in a black jacket and red shirt. Marcus clapped him on the shoulder gratefully.
“ Thanks for the drum-work, Varleon. Who would have thought you capable of memorizing the song after hearing it a single time?” Varleon nodded in acknowledgement.
“ I envy you sometimes, Marcus.” The archon said. Marcus directed a curious look at him but Varleon spun on his heel and began walking away into the night, leaving the younger vampire to ponder his parting words.
“ You still have the ability to weep.”
Sat, 15th Mar '03, 9:09pm
Incredible, fantastic, unbelievable. Somehow you always manage to write brilliant, flawless stories. I bow before 'the god of the stories'!
Sun, 16th Mar '03, 3:40am
I'm sitting here, drooling, wanting more of that story. WE WANT MORE! WE WANT MORE! WE WANT MORE!!!! Good job Shura! I really hope you publish this one day. I'll probably buy all your works. They're bloody amazing! Keep up the good work! :thumb:
Sun, 16th Mar '03, 4:01am
All hail! Absalutly and utterly brilliant
Sun, 16th Mar '03, 2:08pm
brilliant shura. how long is this gonna take to finish?
The Kilted Crusader
Sun, 16th Mar '03, 8:41pm
Shut up Dalveen, we don't want it to finish! Amazing Shura!
Mon, 17th Mar '03, 11:21am
Agreeing with everybody else. When you have finished it, you will go and get published. UNDERSTOOD? And you will not DIE. Because this must go on and those other stories too.
Mon, 17th Mar '03, 4:56pm
hey i didnt say i wanted this finished all i aked was how many more posts untill we get the shura story back
Thu, 20th Mar '03, 5:31am
Well, I'll try my best not to die, Eze. ;)
As for Dalveen's question, probably not in a long time. Shura the swordsman needs a break and so do I. The first chapter or so of Duel & Descent is almost done. Maybe I'll post a teaser topic this weekend, folks, though nothing more for some time.
Meanwhile, I intend to work on Archon and Axe & Thunder. Thanks for everyone's support. Archon will be updated this weekend again, as usual.
The Kilted Crusader
Thu, 20th Mar '03, 2:40pm
Sun, 23rd Mar '03, 7:43am
It's sunday and no updates yet :aaa:
Sun, 30th Mar '03, 11:52am
Sorry for the delayed update, folks, but I've recently been rather ill. Anyway, here it is.
I've tried to make Varleon as different from Shura as possible. Do let me know if I have succeeded, eh?
Chapter 5: Wrath of Chaos
Lilliana Von Seros stood behind her desk, her child’s face coldly impassive as she listened to Marcus’s report. The younger vampire carried himself with a disgruntled air, for relations between the Councilor and her servant were far from cordial.
“ Has he fed?” She asked curtly. Marcus shook his head in ignorance.
“ I wouldn’t know.” He replied, shrugging his shoulders. “ If he has, I’ve not seen him do so.” The Councilor’s ancient eyes caught him mouthing the words ‘little *****’ silently. Lilliana’s gaze fell upon another vampire in her office. He wore the form of a young man with aristocratic features and was clad in a black business suit. She sent forth a mental command and the suit-wearing vampire’s swinging fist sent Marcus sprawling onto the floor.
Marcus struggled to regain his feet but Lilliana’s servant dropped a foot upon his chest, pinning him to the floor with his unholy strength. He began to exert pressure slowly and Marcus felt his ribs start to crack.
“ Enough, Charles!” Lilliana barked. Charles removed his foot, allowing Marcus to struggle into a pained crouch. He tried to stand but Charles rammed a heel into the back of his knee, causing him to kneel before Lilliana.
“ Do you know my opinion of you, Un-chosen?” The Councilor’s question was rhetorical as she addressed Marcus, using the term for a vampire created without the permission and approval of the Twilight Council. Marcus did not bother to answer. He flashed a contemptuous smile and said nothing. Charles backhanded him violently, flooring Marcus again.
“ Get him out of my sight.” Lilliana said in disgust. Charles smiled at her and dragged Marcus’s prone form out through the door of her office. She cast her gaze about the remaining three vampires in her office. Two of them had the bodies of slim, dark haired women and the third was a hulking brute of a man with his scalp shorn of hair. All three of them were clad in business suits similar to the one worn by Charles. They were her progeny, trained in the arts of battle from childhood and turned into vampires upon acquiring maturity. For years, they had been training, seeking to unlock the unholy secrets of their blood that would grant them the powers befitting that of an undead warrior. Varleon’s return gave her much cause for relief but still; she felt a shiver of pride as she looked upon her newest Archons.
“ Instruments of my will, together we shall reinstate my power over the night once more!” The Councilor proclaimed.
Varleon left his room in the Von Seros Complex and Ivan intercepted him, biding him to halt. The Archon looked at him curiously.
“ The Lady Von Seros requests your presence in her private room, Mr. Bastodene.” Ivan informed him. Varleon frowned in puzzlement.
“ Am I not supposed to keep order in her domain? Why would she keep me from my duties? He asked. The servant merely smiled and shrugged. Varleon sighed and nodded. “ Very well, I shall head there now. Goodnight, Mr. Ivan.” Ivan bowed.
“ Likewise, Mr. Bastodene.” He said. Varleon left him and made his way through the many corridors of the Von Seros Complex before coming to an elevator that required a keycard. He inserted it into the control panel and the doors slid open.
“ This is an age of both great convenience and tedium indeed.” Varleon thought to himself as the elevator doors shut with him inside. Within moments, he stood outside Lilliana’s room. He knocked once upon it and entered when the Councilor’s girlish voice bade him do so.
“ What do you require…” Varleon’s voice trailed off as his eyes fell upon the spectacle within the room. Lilliana had her fangs buried deep into the throat of the woman with the unfocused eyes that followed her everywhere. She fed and her thrall moaned softly in ecstasy. The Archon frowned. It was deemed unsightly to feed in front of others, according to ancient vampire etiquette. Still, Lilliana had told him to enter. The Councilor removed her fangs, letting the sweet scent of blood waft to Varleon’s nostrils.
“ You have not fed since your return, Varleon.” She said, pushing aside her thrall’s head so that her neck was exposed. “ Come, do not neglect your needs.” The Archon was not impressed.
“ I am ancient, far more ancient than you, Lilliana. My blood holds enough potency for me to go without feeding for years.” He stated, turning to leave. “ Now, if this is all you have summoned me for…”
“ Wait!” Lilliana cried. “ What pressing matters have you to settle that you cannot bear one more moment in my presence than is necessary?”
“ The influence of the Chaos Cult is insidious and tenacious. Now that Magra Serra has been largely cleansed and brought into line, I would suggest that you confer with your fellow Councilors to counter the Cult worldwide.” Varleon said.
“ Your duties are being carried out already, my faithful Archon.” Try as she might, Lilliana’s girlish voice and body made her attempts at allure and seduction ghastly and sinister at best. “ Let us enjoy this night together.”
“ Marcus? He is sharp-eyed and keen of wit but he is no match for the least Cultist.”
“ Not him. My progeny guard my domain now.” Lilliana went on to elaborate about the newest addition to her forces and Varleon listened intently, nodding at various details. It was the customary practice of many Councilors to do so.
“ A wise move, Lilliana.” He congratulated her. “ Still, I have no need to feed, though I thank you for your offer.” Lilliana began to speak but a ringing tone caught her attention. She walked over to a small screen set upon the wall and depressed a button.
“ Yes, Ivan, what is it?” She snapped. The servant’s face flickered into view. “ I thought I told you that I was not to be disturbed?” If Ivan was the least discomforted by his mistress’s wrath, he did not show it.
“ My apologies, Lady, but there is something that I think you should see. Channel fourteen.” Ivan reported. Lilliana walked over to the television in her room and turned it on impatiently.
The news was being aired on Channel fourteen. Footage taken from a camera atop a helicopter depicted a scene of chaos. The wreckage of numerous cars lay in burning heaps and no small number of corpses littered the ground. An individual stood amidst the destruction, waving a long, cylindrical tube in one hand and gesturing wildly in the air with the other.
“ The suspect began his murderous rampage in Magra Serra’s commercial district shortly after the sun went down today.” The news announcer’s voice crackled over the television’s speakers. “ Police have failed to subdue him, suffering heavy casualties instead. The suspect is armed with a rocket launcher and the death toll so far has been unconfirmed, though authorities estimate that up to sixty civilians and police officers might be dead or injured.”
The camera zoomed in on the rocket-launcher wielding individual and Varleon saw that it was a vampire clad in a long coat of leather that reached to his ankles. Purple and green tattoos decorated the flesh of his face and he bared his fangs for the world to see. Abruptly, he leveled his weapon in the direction of the camera and pulled the trigger. The scene blurred out in static.
“ The suspect has been demanding that an ‘Archon’ show himself and he has so far ignored all attempts at negotiation.” The news announcer reported. Varleon spun on his heel and headed for the door, his fists clenched tight but Lilliana called out after him.
“ My progeny can handle this.” She said. Varleon looked over his shoulder, his expression one of utter doubt.
“ I recognize him from battles long past, Lilliana. Gustav Von Richter is one of the Cult’s greatest warriors. Fledglings, no matter how well trained, will be no match for him.” The Archon pointed out. Before Lilliana could respond, Varleon had already depressed the switch that opened the door to her room and walked through. Lilliana could only watch his departure forlornly. Her features underwent an abrupt change as door slid shut, contorting into a mask of feral rage.
Varleon stepped through the main doors of the Von Seros Complex, only to find Marcus awaiting him with his car at the ready. The younger vampire flashed him a sardonic grin.
“ The Batmobile is ready, Mr. Bruce.” Marcus quipped. His amusement only grew as Varleon stared back in blank incomprehension. Marcus sighed and shook his head in mock exasperation. “ Expression of a different age.” He explained.
“ It will be faster if I run, Marcus.” The Archon told him. Pulling his head back, Varleon cast his consciousness about Lilliana’s domain, easily locating the demonic and murderous presence of Gustav Von Richter. Marcus shrugged, doing his best to keep from breaking into laughter, for he knew that modern technology still unnerved Varleon, no matter how much the Archon denied that fact.
“ I’ll see you there, then.” Marcus got into his car and revved the engine. Varleon’s hand clamped down on the front hood, easily holding the car in place with his unholy strength.
“ No. This is out of your league.” He instructed. Marcus opened his mouth to protest but his words died in his mouth as he spotted four shadowy figures materialize behind Varleon.
“ Yes, little scum. Stay here where it’s safe.” The vampire known as Charles spoke, his voice little more than a throaty growl. “ The night belongs only to us, the true lords of the undead!” He directed a scathing glance at Varleon.
“ Your time has come and gone, old man. We have little need for antiques.” Varleon turned towards Charles and locked gazes with the impudent youngling. His intense glare seemed to scour every dark and secret corner of the younger vampire’s soul and Charles had to gulp and back away after a few moments.
“ We have little time for such nonsense.” One of Lilliana’s female enforcers said. “ Let us be off. There is much to do this night.”
“ Wait, let me tell you more about Gustav…” Varleon began. The four vampires paid him no heed, fading into streaks of shadow as they sped towards the devastation downtown. “ Stupid children!” The Archon swore at their departing forms.
“ I’m still going, man. You need backup, right?” Marcus looked questioningly at Varleon. He shook his head.
“ Gustav’s power outstrips every Cultist we have fought so far, Marcus. It is best if you stay away.” The younger vampire started to protest anew but Varleon had already left, leaving behind a blurry afterimage as he sped away in the direction of Lilliana’s enforcers.
“ Damn it!” Marcus swore, banging his fist in impotent anger against his dashboard.
Gustav Von Richter stood amidst a sea of carnage and devastation, cackling madly as he surveyed the results of his bloodlust. Charred bodies littered the roads, many of them the undersized corpses of children, for the spot he had chosen for his display lay near one of the many orphanages in Magra Serra. The city’s police force had been mobilized but the puny mortals were hardly a match for him, one of the Chaos Cult’s greatest warriors. He had fought against the True Archons and two of Guilanox’s progeny have fallen to him. He feared nothing for he knew that he was invincible.
“ Fire!” A group of men clad head to toe in the black uniforms of SWAT teams pelted him with bullets from their submachine guns. Gustav laughed in their faces. Lesser vampires might have to scramble and dodge but the streaking projectiles bounced off his skin, inflicting little more than pinpricks of sensation. With a roar, he leapt forward and swung his rocket launcher in a great arc, sending two SWAT team members spiraling into the air, every bone in their bodies broken. He closed a gigantic paw over another man’s head and crushed it easily. His opponents gave a collective cry of terror but Gustav would not let them escape so easily. He kicked out and snapped another man in half before impaling another on his claw-like fingers.
The Cultist tore a man into two bloody pieces from groin to neck and wielded the halves of the body like a pair of macabre flails, breaking bones and crushing skulls with every swing. When he was done, he loosed yet another rocket from his weapon into the barricade that the police had created with their cars, laughing at the resulting explosion and carnage.
“ ARCHON!” He bellowed, shattering every glass surface in the vicinity with the unnatural strength of his voice. “ SHOW YOURSELF!” His words trailed off into an unearthly shriek of fury, causing the eardrums of every human who could hear him to explode in gore.
From the flames, four shadowy figures emerged, moving so quickly that they seemed to have materialized out of thin air. They were impeccably dressed in business suits.
“ We are the Archons of Magra Serra. You have violated the rules of the Twilight Council and must now be Recalled to Sorrow.” One of them said, his voice brisk and professional. Gustav blinked in disbelief at them for a few moments before bursting anew into laughter.
“ You are mere fledglings!” He said. “ Go fetch the Archon, young ones and I shall not destroy you!”
“ Perhaps you suffer from a hearing disability, fool.” The young vampire snarled. “ We are the Archons and it is time for you to die!” With that, he and his companions began to circle Gustav, their fingers stiffening into claws and forms becoming indistinct as they picked up speed. Soon, a blur of darkness, which was all that could be seen of Lilliana’s enforcers, surrounded the Cultist.
Gustav merely chuckled derisively. He lacked the speed so commonplace to many vampires but he more than made up for it in other areas. He dropped his rocket launcher and flexed his arms in eager anticipation. A vampire burst out from the dark ring, snapping her foot into a kick that could bend a bar of steel. The blow rang off Gustav’s ribs and she flowed back into her orbit before the Cultist could respond.
Another vampire emerged behind Gustav and drove his fist into the Cultist’s back before stepping back. Gustav spread his arms out wide, his massive muscles rippling underneath the sleeves of his coat. Lilliana’s enforcers struck again and again, punching, kicking and clawing to no apparent effect on the Cultist’s body.
Eventually, Gustav decided that he had indulged the young vampires long enough and with a great roar, slammed both his massive fists into the ground. The impact was so great that the tarred road under his feet rippled. The enforcers materialized abruptly, for no matter how fast they moved, they were still land-bound. Without a solid foundation for them to step on, their speed would avail them nothing.
Gustav’s gigantic hand shot forth and caught a female vampire in mid-air. With as little effort as a man crushing a fly, the Cultist crushed her in his grasp. The enforcer shrieked and thrashed before fading away into ashes. The Cultist opened his palm and blew her remains into the air, leering as he did so.
“ My turn.” He said. Two thundering steps brought him to another vampire struggling to rise and Gustav kicked him high into the air. The force of the blow was so great that the vampire’s body broke into half as it traveled upwards. Gustav picked up his rocket launcher and sighted it at his bloody, tumbling form and pulled the trigger. Another of Lilliana’s enforcers perished horribly, his burning remains falling gently onto the two remaining vampires. The female vampire cowered in fear, all trace of her training and discipline gone.
Charles roared and leapt at Gustav, pounding his fists futilely onto the Cultist’s massive chest. Gustav chuckled and backhanded him, tearing off Charles’s left arm with a single swipe. He extended a huge finger and rammed it into the younger vampire’s side, shattering ribs and rupturing organs. Charles fell to his knees, blood pouring from his mouth as he looked up into his executioner. Gustav flicked his head off with a snap of his middle finger.
Stepping over the crumbling remains of Charles, Gustav advanced upon the final enforcer. She cowered with her face hidden behind her palms, whimpering and sobbing pathetically.
“ Perhaps I shall take my time with this one.” The Cultist mused. The battle had lasted for less than a minute after Gustav’s retaliation and he felt rather disappointed at the lack of challenge his opponents offered him. He reached down to pick up the whimpering vampire, much as a cruel child might pick up a kitten he intended to drown. His hand closed upon empty air, for another streak of movement had spirited her away. Without turning around, Gustav knew who stood behind him. His shoulders began to heave in laughter.
Varleon held the last surviving enforcer in his arms and his features were grim as he looked upon his ancient adversary. A sudden gale of foul air caused the flames surrounding them to dance wildly, casting the two foes in a myriad of ever-shifting shadows.
“ You.” The Archon said, his voice unwavering despite the fact that Gustav was at least twice his size. The Cultist spun around, spreading his arms in a grotesque parody of joy.
“ Yes.” Gustav growled. “ Me.” Varleon set Lilliana’s enforcer onto her feet and the younger vampire sped off into the night, seeking to put as much distance between her and the scene of battle as possible.
“ Four centuries, Sanguine Seraph! When the cathedral collapsed on you all those years ago, I thought I had lost a worthy opponent!” The Cultist advanced menacingly. “ Come, let us do battle!”
“ Is this how you would spend your immortality, Gustav?” Varleon asked him, not bothering to assume a battle stance. “ There are countless wonders in the world and an never-ending stash of knowledge to acquire. Is this all you amount to? Battle after battle and a pair of hands stained black with murder?”
“ Your preaching is inconsequential, Sanguine Seraph! Who amongst us would seek such ideals with his dark gifts? They struggle for power to rule over the mortals and their brethren alike! Councilor or Cultist, their motives are the same! Shepherd of humanity or Tyrant of darkness, they simply seek to impose their will upon others!” Gustav spat. “ I care little for such nonsense! I desire only battle and carnage! My motives are pure and my means are purer!”
Varleon cast his gaze around, taking in the sights of the countless bodies strewn about and a look of wrath came over his normally composed features. He brought his right fist up and clenched it.
“ You are nothing more than a rabid beast!” The Archon growled.
“ A beast of death and destruction!” Gustav roared, throwing back his head as he did so. “ Who can stop me? Which god has the might to defy me?”
“ I am no god, but I shall put an end to your madness!” Varleon declared, shifting into a battle stance.
“ Yes! Smite me your unholy wrath! Sear me with your righteousness!” Gustav laughed. “ If you can!” He drew back his massive fist and struck. Varleon snapped his leading foot up and intercepted the blow with a kick.
The resulting impact was concussive enough for the flames surrounding them to dance in an orchestration of madness.
Mon, 31st Mar '03, 9:49am
brilliant. i realized no one was posting a reply, is that because there all speachless at the quality of the work?
Mon, 31st Mar '03, 12:33pm
Brilliant, amazing ect.
The Kilted Crusader
Mon, 31st Mar '03, 7:40pm
I believe you did succeed in making Varleon different from Shura. I was half expecting him to charge the other lad, but instead he tried to change Gustav's views! Very un-shura.
Sun, 25th May '03, 7:09am
Sorry for the delay folks, been working on too many story projects. Maiden of Pain was rather draining on me, as I had to delve into deep amounts of psychoticsm to make it truly twisted.
I'm also working on a redone version of part 1 of the Shura story, retitled Son of Strife. It's at least three times longer than the original 'Legend of Shura' and a lot more detailed. Hopefully, I'll get that published as well as my submission for Maiden of Pain.
Enough of my rambling, then. Here's the next part!
Chapter Six: A Warrior’s belief
Count Iaius stood upon the roof of a tall building, looking down upon the battle between Cultist and Archon. His arms were folded across his chest and his walking stick was grasped casually in one fist.
“ Ah, a sight to behold indeed.” The Blood Magus spared a glance over his shoulder for the vampire that stood behind him. “ I have not seen you for some time, lovely one. I did not expect such a fate to befall you.”
The vampire did not reply. She appeared to be a slim, petite young woman clad in a long, black coat. The hilt of a massive broadsword strapped to her back jutted over her shoulders.
“ Zelkan sent you to destroy the Archon, I presume.” Iaius turned to face her, spreading his arms and adopting a menacing poise. “ You might very well succeed for you have grown much in power since I last saw you. Alas, I cannot allow this.”
The vampire made no move to draw her weapon. She simply stood there, her gaze faraway and unfocused. Seeing this, Iaius lowered his arms and relaxed.
“ You are here merely to observe, I see.” The Blood Magus returned his attention to the battle. “ I have no objections, then.” An eager gleam came into his crimson eyes as the fight went on.
“ Yes, show me your power, Archon!” He said. “ Show me if it is strong enough!”
Cultist and Archon battled furiously, exchanging blows capable of leveling buildings and parrying or neutralizing them. Gustav roared with delight, caught up in an unholy frenzy as his massive fists pounded again and again at Varleon’s dodging form. The Archon dodged some and blocked the rest by intercepting the incoming fist with swirling motions of his hands and redirecting the terrific impact away from his body. He launched snap kicks and elbow strikes at his huge opponent who simply absorbed them into his seemingly invulnerable frame.
Gustav’s fingers tore into the concrete at their feet and he ripped a huge chunk of the pavement away, lifting it into the air. His other fist pounded into the impromptu boulder, shattering it and sending a rain of concrete shards hurtling towards Varleon.
The Archon’s body blurred into a dark streak, dodging the shards of concrete and charging towards Gustav as he did so. The Cultist swiped a backhand as Varleon neared, only to catch air as Varleon slid in low and caught his ankle in one hand and his belt buckle in another. With a mighty heave, Varleon flung his opponent high into the air and dashed off towards a building, relying entirely on his speed to run vertically up its pitted walls. He soon overtook the ascending Cultist and leapt off the walls to intercept Gustav’s massive form. The Archon slammed both his fists into Gustav’s back, sending him hurtling back towards the ground.
The Cultist braced himself and landed on his feet, creating a huge crater in the street. He laughed in contempt, hardly hurt at all. As Varleon descended, he was swatted aside by Gustav’s huge fist and sent flying into the wreckage of a police car, hitting the ruined vehicle with such force that it flipped over and bounced a few times before coming to rest.
“ You will have to do better than that!” Gustav bellowed, his voice thundering down the length of the street that more resembled a battlefield than a city district. Varleon burst forth from the police car and landed in a crouch before the Cultist. He tore off the remains of his shirt and jacket.
“ Oh, I will.” There was a gleam in his crimson eyes previously absent. Gustav felt a chilling tingle run down the length of his spine as he beheld the visage of his old nemesis, the Sanguine Seraph. He roared away his fear and raised his hands, forming them into claws.
Varleon obliged him, breaking into a charge so quick that Gustav’s eyes failed to register the movement until the Archon’s fist had pounded into his broad chest. The force of the blow was so great that despite Gustav’s massive bulk, the Cultist was flung off his feet and sent flying. Gustav snapped his hand down, digging his fingers once more into the concrete in a bid to arrest his flight and regain his feet. Varleon was there, following his progress and knocking away his hand with a sweeping kick, sending the Cultist into a spinning twirl. The Archon caught Gustav’s neck in the crook of his elbow in the midst of his spin. A single heave sent the Cultist slamming into the concrete once more, his body creating a furrow as it slid along the street.
Gustav leapt to his feet, turning a complete circle in the air before landing. There was a feral grin of delight on his face. “ That’s the spirit, Archon!”
Varleon did not respond. He began walking towards Gustav, his fists clenched by his sides. Gustav swung his fist in a thunderous right cross as Varleon moved into range. The Archon snapped his leg up and brought it down into a heel-strike upon Gustav’s fist, deflecting the blow. Before the Cultist could even begin to stagger off balance, Varleon’s knee crashed under his jaw, snapping his head back. The Archon rained a flurry of blows onto Gustav’s staggering body, ending with a final kick to his midriff that sent the Cultist flying once more.
Gustav roared as he climbed back to his feet. Bruises now showed on his face and a trickle of blood flowed from the corner of his mouth. Even the regenerative abilities a vampire was cursed with could not keep up with the damage Varleon had inflicted on him. He took a step forward, and stumbled to one knee, his vision swimming.
“ Yield.” Varleon walked right up to stand before Gustav. “ Submit to the will of the Council or be Recalled to Sorrow.” A pale blue radiance began to emerge from the Archon’s skin as he called upon his command of Negative Energy. Now, his touch would reduce any vampire to a pile of ashes within moments.
“ Why have you held back your Death Touch until now, Archon?” Gustav growled. “ Do you take pleasure in my torment?”
“ No.” Varleon said, the gleam of battle-fury fading from his eyes to be replaced by a somber look. “ I was simply reluctant to destroy one of your age and wisdom.”
“ Age and wisdom?” Gustav echoed incredulously. “ Your words make little sense!”
“ We have withstood the passing of millennia, Gustav. We should not die like this, tearing and raking at each other like rabid beasts.” Varleon went on. “ A death in battle is hardly a worthy death. Live, Gustav, and find a cause worthy of an immortal’s dedication.”
“ Live? We are already dead, you fool!” The Cultist leapt forwards, seizing Varleon’s hands in his own. The Archon cried out, thinking that Gustav was doomed but the tattoos on the Cultist’s flesh flared, generating crackles of arcane power that withstood Varleon’s Negative Energy.
“ What?” He began, before Gustav snapped his head forwards into a ferocious head-butt that sent Varleon reeling away with a shattered face. Gustav broke both of Varleon’s arms at the elbows and slammed his massive fist into the Archon’s back, grinding him into the concrete.
“ You did not think I would come unprepared, did you? The Chaos Cult counts a multitude of sorcerers and diabolists amongst their number. One of them was bound to have a spell that could negate the very thing you Archons are so feared for, however momentarily!” The tattoos faded from Gustav’s flesh, their power spent.
Varleon’s wounds faded away swiftly and the Archon began to push himself up but Gustav dropped a heavy boot down onto his back, pinning him to the street. The Cultist leaned down and tore a huge chunk of concrete from the street once more. He brought it high in readiness for a final, crushing blow.
“ Your stupidity has cost you much, Archon! Farewell!” Gustav cried. Varleon growled and struggled to no avail under the Cultist’s boot. Gustav paused momentarily, though as a curious sound reached his ears: the revving of a car’s engine. He looked over his shoulder just in time to see a car driving towards him at full speed.
“ Hey you!” Marcus shouted from behind the steering wheel. “ Your ma’s a hooker!” Gustav had no time to step aside before the vehicle smashed into him with a terrific crash. The car’s metal frame folded over Gustav’s gigantic body as Marcus burst out from the windscreen to land rolling in a bloodied heap some distance away.
“ Argh! You little maggot!” Gustav flexed his mighty arms, tearing his body free from its metallic cage just as the fuel tank exploded, wreathing him in flames. The Cultist shrieked in agony, as he became a humanoid torch.
“ Oh, ****!” Marcus swore as he beheld the disaster. “ Old-timer!”
“ I am here.” Varleon’s calm voice came from behind him. Marcus spun about to see the Archon standing there, the remains of his clothes slightly singed. He had utilized his great speed to escape from Gustav’s pin split seconds before the ruined vehicle burst into flames.
Gustav turned towards Varleon, his flesh burning away. He growled. “ Archon!”
Varleon walked towards the Cultist and stood before him, looking up into Gustav’s agonized eyes.
“ The coup de grace.” Gustav said, his voice now calm and composed. Varleon nodded and clenched his fists. With a roar, the Cultist swiped at Varleon. The Archon dodged under the blow and countered with an uppercut to Gustav’s jaw. Bereft of his protective tattoos, Gustav was no longer immune to an Archon’s deadly touch. He fell to his knees, his body arching back so that his face was to the night sky. Even as he felt his undead frame crumbling away, Gustav’s eyes sought Varleon.
“ This is the way to die, Archon. In battle, like any true warrior should.” The Cultist reiterated. Varleon looked away, his face full of remorse.
“ No.” He disagreed, even though he was already speaking to a pile of smoldering ashes. Varleon looked at his battle-worn hands and swept his gaze over the many corpses that littered the site of battle.
Count Iaius clapped his gloved hands soundly as the battle drew to an end. “ Bravo! Bravo! Most entertaining…and informative.”
He turned towards the other vampire that stood beside him and flashed a patronizing smile. “ Do you not think so?”
The other vampire did not respond. Her gaze was fully riveted not on Varleon, but on Marcus. Her lips moved slightly as she mouthed his name. The Count did not bother to note her response anyway and he spun away, twirling his walking stick in a flamboyant gesture.
“ It was a pleasure to watch such a show with you, lovely one, but now I must depart on business of my own, as I am sure you have to as well.” Count Iaius called over his shoulder. “ Do give my regards to Zelkan, if you still have the mental capacity to do so, that is. Farewell!”
She paid the departure of the Blood Magus little attention as she watched Marcus lead Varleon towards an abandoned car. The younger vampire hotwired the vehicle, ignoring the Archon’s protests and the duo drove away into the night. Behind her, Count Iaius chanted an incantation and his body broke apart into a flight of crimson bats. The flock of unnatural creatures took wing and flew after the vehicle in which Marcus and Varleon traveled.
“ Marcus.” She said softly, touching a thin bracelet of silver around her left wrist. “ Marcus.”
They stopped the vehicle a few blocks away from the Von Seros complex and made their way there on foot, Varleon attracting a fair number of stares due to the state of his clothing. The pair entered the lobby swiftly; glad to be away from the many curious looks directed towards them. There, the sight of Count Iaius chatting amiably with the receptionist greeted them.
“ What the hell are you doing here?” Marcus cried. The Count ignored him, turning all his attention to Varleon.
“ Greetings, Archon of Magra Serra.” He bowed deeply. Varleon nodded in acknowledgement.
“ Greetings to you as well, Count.” He replied. “ Dawn is not far away. What brings you to this venue at such hours?”
“ I have come to propose a mutually beneficial and profitable venture.” Iaius said. Marcus’s eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“ Don’t trust him, old-timer! He’s a double-dealing, back-stabbing bastard.” The younger vampire warned. Iaius bowed once more to Marcus, as if acknowledging a compliment. Varleon held out a hand to forestall any more of Marcus’s outbursts.
“ My fellow Archon has named you untrustworthy, good Count. Why should I believe otherwise?” He asked.
“ I am untrustworthy in many matters, save for those that involve profit, for a businessman must maintain a degree of honor if he wishes to continue his business, does he not?” Count Iaius countered. “ The lady Lilliana has a history of hiring my services on a few occasions. Why, your very return to the world of the living was facilitated by my spells!”
“ There is little you can offer me.” Varleon said.
“ What about your memories?” Iaius pointed out. Seeing a look of interest grow on Varleon’s face, the Count laughed and went on. “ I can offer you a chance to dispel the mists that cloud your recollections!”
“ What would you want in return?” The Archon frowned.
“ Little, save for your presence and the employment of your Negating Touch.”
“ I shall destroy no vampire at your behest, Count! Regardless of the prize you offer me in return!” Varleon declared, fast losing his patience.
“ Calm down, sir. I have said nothing of killing.” The Count raised a hand in a gesture of pacification. “ I have located an Archon Shrine and require your aid in gaining access to it.”
“ What?” Varleon rocked back on his heels, trying to digest the shocking information.
“ The wards that guard its entrance can only be dispelled by an Archon’s touch, hence the request for your presence.” Iaius pushed his tinted spectacles higher up on the bridge of his nose, obscuring his crimson eyes totally.
“ What is it you desire from the shrine?” The Archon demanded.
“ An ancient tome, its whereabouts divined from questions directed at otherworldly creatures. I am a Blood Magus, and I seek the secrets within the tome.” Iaius said, a note of avarice entering his usually composed voice. “ How the tome came to end up within the confines of an Archon Shrine is unknown to me, though I know I must have it!”
“ I do not trust you, Count Iaius.” Varleon said. “ Yet, your offer is fair and reasonable. What secrets does the tome hold?”
“ Ah, sir Archon, if I told you about them, they would not remain secret anymore, eh?” Iaius chuckled mockingly. “ So what is your response to my offer?”
“ I agree to your terms, though you should know that I shall come after you if you bring peril to Magra Serra through the usage of whatever unknown lore is hidden within the pages of your precious tome.” Varleon said, waving a hand to silence Marcus’s protests.
“ The issue is settled, then.” Count Iaius dipped into yet another deep bow, the outlines of his body becoming indistinct. “ I shall contact you again on the date I would require your aid, Archon.”
“ Farewell.” Varleon acknowledged. The Count’s form broke up into a flight of crimson bats that flew through the glass doors of the lobby and into the brightening sky.
“ Bloody show-off!” Marcus growled. Varleon watched the Count’s departure for a few moments before walking towards the private lift. There was much he had to arrange with Ivan to smooth over the nature of the devastation wrought by Gustav.
Sun, 25th May '03, 1:32pm
Brilliant Shura. Lovley description on the battle scene
Sun, 25th May '03, 10:51pm
I LOVE THIS. And yeah, good luck on getting Shura published.
Mon, 26th May '03, 8:17am
THREE TIMES LONGER?! *drools*
Anyhow, very groovy.
The Kilted Crusader
Mon, 26th May '03, 1:39pm
Really enjoyed that one. Good luck with your publishing.
Mon, 26th May '03, 3:56pm
Good luck with your publishing too, although I doubt the story on the Boards will be the same as the one on the bookshelves (assuming it got published, anyways).
Day to Night
Tue, 20th Jan '04, 11:40pm
Come on. Its been ages add more
please please please please please please please please please please please please please please
Wed, 21st Jan '04, 12:09am
Sorry man, I've been REAL busy with school work lately.
After 2.5 years in the military, my brain has difficulty adapting to an academic environment.
I'll see what I can do, eh? :( :(
Wed, 21st Jan '04, 2:28am
*sigh* I read all of it too, lol.
Wed, 21st Jan '04, 5:22am
I was quite excited...I thought Shura had posted another installment...*sigh*...I guess I'll just have to wait--but I'm not a patient person, so hurry! ;)