Monday, October 8, 2012

Lance DeMoi and the Van Helsing Enigma

Artyom kicked in the door.

"You call this a castle?  I practically walked in here.  You might want to talk to the captain of your guard." he announced, throwing the corpses of the two door guards into the room.

The bodies hit the stone floor with a heavy thud, chain mail clattering, a cloud of dust shooting into the air around them.  The corpses exploded into ash.  Dracula turned from the window to look through the black cloud.  His red eyes full of malice and thirst.

The year was AD 1020.  Dracula was rising in power in Eastern Europe, raising an army of bloodthirsty vampires to create a nightmarish empire throughout the known world.  The Slavs and Romans had had enough.  Warriors were trained to fight the darkness; nightly defenders of the frontier who were equipped with silver and wood.  Artyom and his Roman allies had devised a plan to strike at the heart of the nocturnal threat: slay Dracula.

While Dracula's eyes were as alive as a winter fire, his face remained blank.

"I'm surprised, Slav, that you have come here; here to the Castle of Night.  Your's was once a docile race, fearing any patch of shadow or darkness because we might lurk there.  But now you venture into my very throne room.  Do you really think your new God can protect you?"

Dracula flew across the room at Artyom, clawed fingers outstretched, cloak flying behind scattering the ash cloud behind him.  Artyom pivoted to the side.  The claws narrowly missed his armored side.  Artyom's sword with silvered blade flashed through the air and stung against Dracula's skin.  The vampire lord swept back, an angry red line on his arm where the silver sword had hit.

"Since you mention it, I did say my prayers this morning." Artyom grinned, circling his sword through the air in front of him.

"What do you hope to do here!?  You are one man, one small man against me!  I have slain hundreds, devoured entire armies!  The Roman emperor hopes he can get his army here by marching through the Bulgars, but I shall feast upon this army for decades to come.  And you, you hope to what?  Slay me!?" Dracula towered to his full height, his voice grew louder and became a bat-like screech.  The candles in the room began to dim as if a hand was slowly cupping around the little flames.

"That's the gist of it.  Let's see, the plan was get into the mountains, sneak into the castle, bust into the Dracula's chambers, fight– "

"You are fool to think you can accomplish that on your own!" Dracula cackled.

"I'm in the throne room aren't I?" Artyom asked.

"So you are.  But this is where it ends.  I have called a legion of my minions; vampires, lycanthropes, ghouls, and creatures of the night so foul to your kind they have not even been named.  Things are about to get a little bit... sanguine." Dracula smiled showing his gleaming fangs, his eyes alight with cheerful fire.

"You didn't let me finish my plan though.  I was at 'bust into Dracula's chambers', then fight him, then use my secret weapon." Artyom, bouncing on the balls of his feet, reached down and pulled something off his belt.

The sounds of creatures known and unknown but all horrible filled the air outside the dark window and Artyom could here them far down the hall to his back.  He had to act soon if he still desired to live in an undigested state.

"Secret weapon?" Dracula snarled, cocking his head to one side.

The darkening of the room stopped, the candles now just orange tips on wax.  Dracula stood still.  His evil face looked perhaps slightly curious.

"An ancient device used against your kind in the days of old." Artyom said as he held a little glass vial. "Pure sunlight.  Antediluvian too.  I heard it was nice back then.  Warm and, well, sunny."

"That practice died a long time ago!  I– I made sure of it!" Dracula screeched.

"Looks like you missed one." Artyom raised the vial over his head.

The horrible sounds were closer now; twisting shadows of un-human forms could be seen dancing on the walls and ceiling far back down the hall.  Dracula gave an animal howl that shattered the window and made Artyom's ears bleed.  The candles were snuffed out completely in a single moment as Dracula flew toward Artyom.  The vial left his hand, falling towards the stone floor.  It shattered with a crystalline tinkling.  The room, hall, and courtyard were filled with a blinding golden light: the captured rays of the ancient daytime sun.  The nocturnal horrors swarming up the hall and flying to the window gave blood-curdling screams as they were blinded, their eyes burned right in their sockets, or were burned alive, or scorched to ash.  Artyom lay curled up on the floor, his hands rammed against his closed eyes.

"No!  I have lived to long!" Dracula shrieked as the light burned against his outstretched hands and as his eyeballs turned to hot puss in his eye sockets. "You.... you... you can't!  You can't!" Tears trickled from Dracula's ruined sockets but were evaporated by the light before they reached his cheekbones. "This is not the end!  I will have vengeance against your entire race!  I– it hurts!  My skin it burns!  Aarhhh!" as his face cracked and the skin peeled from his black fingernails, Dracula uttered a final, piercing screech; and was no more.

The light faded and everything was still.  Artyom pushed himself to his feet.  Even though he had shut his eyes as he threw the vial of sunlight, his eyes still ached and they were blurred by the afterimage burned into them.  He stood there blinking for a moment.  As he put his sword away in its sheath, his hand brushed his side and felt something sticky and warm; it was his own blood.  He probed his stomach with his fingers, Dracula's claws must have found him after all.  The wound felt deep, perhaps even fatal.  Artyom's eyes adjusted to the pitch blackness and he saw the garish statue that stood over him.  It was Dracula turned to stone by the raw sunlight.

It had worked; he had won.  Artyom began the difficult walk home.  The Romans could clean up the mess.


Abraham Van Helsing leaned on the window sill, gazing out into the howling darkness, his aged face reflected off the window by the warm firelight from behind him.  The wind battered against the window like so many hands and swept across the moors outside like Death itself.  Jonathan Harker and John Seward sat in the chintz armchairs by the fire smoking pipes.  All three men were lost in their own brooding.  Finally Jonathan spoke.

"So you are saying, Professor, that the vampire we killed was not actually Dracula?"

Van Helsing turned from the window and walked back into the circle of warmth near the crackling fire.

"That is correct.  I was troubled by the events surrounding the so-called Count, so after it was all done and taken care of I travelled to the headquarters of my order and scoured its library.  The vampire lord we killed was Vlad Dracul, or Vlad the Impaler, or what you will; he was merely the prince of Wallachia in his time and a descendent of Dracula.  He was a powerful vampire lord, but only that: a vampire lord.  He wasn't, you could say, the vampire king."

Jonathan and Seward gave each other a troubled look.  The wind picked up outside and howled ever the hungrier.

"And this 'vampire king'," Seward said, "would be far more potent and dangerous than Count Vlad?"

"Yes, far more.  I believe he would be beyond us to stop.  It would take a demigod to end him, or at least a warrior who has trained since birth to fight vampires, and that order hasn't been around since the 12th century."

"Then, Professor, what can we do?  We should prepare for this real Dracula.  And if we can't stop him, then what can we do?  We are helpless!  What about that organization in America, the Extraordinary Science Department?" Jonathan exclaimed, looking worried.

"Fear not, at least not yet." Van Helsing said calmly, "My order and I found the remains of Dracula.  He is, as of date, sealed in a stone statue." Jonathan relaxed slightly. "We sealed him deep; in a secret place which I shall not even divulge to for your own safety and that of the world's.  Dracula remains trapped beneath more than just lock and key though, know that.  Maybe the American government can help, maybe not.  For now we must trust in the the stone and other bonds that hold Dracula, Lord of All Vampires."

The three men settled into their chairs, thankful for the happy, dancing flames as the wind howled and flew through the darkness. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Vampires sue Twilight author

Due to the recent series of novels and their success among modern youth, the sanguine Crown of Noctheim demands Twilight author Stephenie Meyer reimburse them for misportraying an existing and ancient species with a long and noble history.  They stated that they took great offense at the main plot point of the book series and film adaptations: the vampire-human relationship; a relationship of such has only ever happened once in the history of the Inquieta in the 16th century and has never happened since.  The circumstances of this historical relationship were very different from those in Mrs. Meyer's portrayal, and it definitely was not romantic, again like in the mistaken portrayal in the book series and films.  Humans and vampires, while the latter's population is drawn from the former, are different species and not compatible with each other reproductively and due to certain necessities.  

Secondly, the vampires in the franchise are depicted as pale-skinned, physically attractive individuals who live among humans and who's skin glitter in the sun.  This is false on several levels.  True Inquieta have skin as white as chalk and their eyes are red with vertically-slitted pupils.  And Inquieta do not live among humans in human dwellings; true Inquieta prefer dark woods, ruins, caves, or their own artificial structures because of their natural darkness.  Also these false vampires are shown wearing human clothes and doing human things such as attending human schools and playing human sports.  This is again very wrong, and ignores the ancient traditions of true vampires; traditions that predate human "civilization".  Mrs. Meyer's false vampires seem to think themselves better than to not wear the traditional garments of their people, nowhere do they wear the red and black cloaks, vests, robes, or other signature pieces of Inquieta dress, but instead prance around in modern human clothing.  No case of this has ever been found in real life.  Just as nowhere has it ever been witnessed or recorded that Inquieta younglings attended human schooling institutions.  Bloodline Dormitator, the ancient house in charge of youngling education, has taken great offense at this, as it appears to be an insult to the standards of vampire education.  Lastly, no Inquieta has ever, ever played a human sport.  This again is ignoring ancient vampiric traditional sports, such as the bi-decennial Great Hunt or the favorite of the current vampire youth, Hide and Eat.    

Thirdly, the so-called vampires in Mrs. Meyer's novels fail to show many of the pouvoirs of true vampires.  Most blatantly is the aforementioned epidermal glittering when a vampire is in sunlight.  This  is plainly ridiculous and the opposite of the truth.  True Inquieta detest the sun and daytime like humanity once feared the dark– which they should still rightly fear– and do in fact begin to combust if in sunlight for too long.  This has a historical genesis in the curse St. Anatoly of Rus' in the 10th century placed upon the Inquieta.  A purely nocturnal lifestyle has dominated vampire life ever since.  Mrs. Meyer's vampires also appear in the human inventons of the mirror and photography.  This is false, true vampires have no reflections in mirrors and actually are able to break cameras by their very presence.  Also, Inquieta have, and take great pride in, fangs, unlike the vampires in the scrutinized series of works which has removed this symbol of power and fear key to vampire life.  The vampires of the stated works fail to display some of the key pouvoirs of the Inquieta Bloodlines, such as Bloodline Dracul's warrior pouvoirs; Bloodline Cosmarul's dream-affecting powers; Bloodline Noaptean's nightwalking abilities; Bloodlines Spatiator and Dormitator, the two oldest Bloodlines, were completely ignored in Mrs. Meyer's work; Bloodline Salbatig's shape-changing and animal magnetism powers were also completely rejected by the franchise; and many other offenses to the ancient Bloodline pouvoirs were made in the book and film series.  Mrs. Meyer had so-called "gifted" vampires who had such powers as pyrokinesis and mental abilities are an insult and a fallacy.  Control over fire has never been an ability possessed by the Inquieta; mental abilities and psychokinesis– which was left out of the franchise– are pouvoirs, along with flight– also excluded– only possessed by Elder Inquieta, also known as Vampire Lords.  Elder Inquieta are at least 800 years old and are the noble patrons of the Bloodlines and the esteemed Sanguarchs of the Sanguarch Council.  That these powers could be possessed by lesser vampires is unknown and insulting to the Inquieta.

Fourthly; werewolves.  Werewolves make a sizable appearance in Mrs. Meyer's series as resistant and fighting against vampires, as being opposite in a way to the vampires in the series.  This is incredibly insulting to the Inquieta and has caused much outrage among them.  Those afflicted with lycanthropy– humans call them werewolves– were conquered by Vlad Dracul, descendent of Dracula himself, in 1460 Post Destructionem Inferni as allies against the Ottomans.  There has only ever been one instance of a lycanthrope uprising, and it was quickly crushed and dealt with by the ruling Cosmarul Bloodline.  If real werewolves acted as they do in the aforementioned series, they would be brought to Inquieta justice or duly crushed by an Inquieta army.  Lycanthropes remain to this day loyal servants and foot soldiers in Noctheim's standing army.  The strengths portrayed by Mrs. Meyer's werewolves are by far over exaggerated, but the Inquieta take no offense to these errors, especially since it is a work of human literature.  

Fifthly, and most offensive to the Nocteus and Sanguarch Council, Mrs. Meyer seems to think Inquieta royalty hail from Tuscany, Italy.  This is the gravest insult to the Inquieta that she could have made.  Vampiric royalty is descended from Vlad Dracul, the 15th century prince of Walachia, who is himself the son of Dracula, first Nocteus and founder of Noctheim.  To say that instead vampires are ruled by reanimated Italians is a horrible, malicious attack against Inquieta royalty.  Most offensive of all the offenses Mrs. Meyer, knowingly or unknowingly, made against the Inquieta was failing to mention, give respect to, or show in any accuracy Dracula himself.  In no where in her works does Dracula, founder of all the Bloodlines, appear or receive the praise he is due.  Instead Dracula and his descendants are replaced by the previously mentioned Italian line.  The Inquieta would like to remind Mrs. Meyer that Dracula's progeny once ruled a kingdom close to the size of England in Eastern Europe during the High and Late Middle Ages from the night-bound city of Noctheim.  Italy is not part of Eastern Europe, nor has it ever been.  Furthermore, Inquieta do not like Italy because of the profusion of a certain pungent bulbous plant.  

In conclusion, the Nocteus and Sanguarch Council demands 170-195 lb. of homage to each Bloodline and the sanguine Crown in reconciliation for the insults and fallacies enumerated above.  Furthermore, the Nocteus requests with politeness that Mrs. Meyer visit Noctheim to discuss with the Nocteus himself her obvious ignorance in Inquieta history and knowledge in polite conversation.  The Nocteus is offering to pay for her plane tickets to Bucharest where, if she agrees to go, she will be contacted by one of the Nocteus' liaisons who will arrange for her safe transportation to Noctheim.  The Inquieta would like to extend their welcome to Mrs. Meyer and their apologies if their letter has caused her any grievances.  The Nocteus and Sanguarch Council eagerly await a reply. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Blurry figures and faces wavered before Klaus's frigid mind, dancing in and out of focus.  Memories of tears and joy, shame and fear, and- and fangs swirled about his drowsy head.  Klaus started, sitting up suddenly, the memory of the horrific stranger, Imre, bright in his previously clouded mind.  He looked around slowly, eyes itchy and sore.  He jumped again, almost falling off the horse-drawn cart he sat in;  Imre sat next to him, reins in hands.  Without taking his red eyes off the country road Imre shot out a white hand, catching Klaus before he fell to the ground.  Klaus straightened, smoothing out his tunic, glancing fearfully at his captor.  Imre continued to stare ahead, a slight, evil, smirk on his face.
"How are you feeling, Klaus?"  Imre asked cheerfully, turning his head slightly to look at Klaus.
Klaus swallowed hard, heart racing.  No, wait it wasn't; or only very faintly.  A cold dread ran down Klaus's spine, he slowly brought his eyes down to stare at his hands.  Unnaturally pale hands.  Though not the chalk-white of Imre.  Klaus stifled a yelp, hiding his fear from the vampire beside and inside him, instead he rubbed vigorously at his itching eyes.
"Ah, you are gaining the Sight!  Excellent!  You are developing quite well for a fresh spawn."  Imre turned his smirk into a smile like that of a hungry cat who has just seen a plump mouse, the shaft of grain clenched between his teeth swishing with the garish smile.
Klaus blinked at the countryside of patchwork fields and dark hills rolling off into the distance.
"Wh- where are we?"
Imre continued to grin.
"Yes it doesn't look like your native Rhineland does it?  We are just at the south-eastern border of my native Hungary, amidst what is called Transylvania, but neither are we going to Walachia.  We are going to the mountains.  We are, I believe just about now, in the Grand Duchy of Vedonsia."
"Vedonsia?  I thought- I thought that was a just a fairytale?  There really isn't a kingdom of vampires is there?" Klaus stammered.
"You're right, there is no kingdom of vampires, and hasn't been for a very long time.  There is a grand duchy though, and we're in it.  Look around you: the eternally cloudy sky of our realm; the desolate, dark wilds; the fields of graves; and above all, the mountains."
Klaus glanced around: it was true, there was no one else around in the lonely wilderness surrounding them.  He slowly, fearfully brought his eyes to look at the even darker mountains inexorably drawing closer to them from the distance.
"Where are you taking me?" he sobbed.
"To a wondrous place!" Imre cackled, "A place of everlasting night, of sanguine carnivals, and all night banquets!  It is the home of all Inquieta– that is the proper name for our kind, you know– it is the night-shrouded city on the mount.  It is Noctheim, the city of vampires."
The cart, drawn by dark-haired, strange breed of horse, reached the bottom of an ancient mountain road that twisted and turned up the foothills and up the unforgiving side of the mountains themselves.  Klaus could just make out what looked like a bank of storm clouds over the mountains.
"Oh no!" he exclaimed, "We can't go into the mountains now, there's a storm coming made of the blackest clouds!"
Imre cackled again, a harsh cracking noise.
"Don't you feel it?  No?  Maybe you need more time to grow.  It is not a mountain storm, my dear Klaus, but darkness.  It is the ebony shroud that protects Noctheim.  We will be there soon." Imre whipped the reins; the cart jostled as the unnatural horse sped up the rocky path.    
They rode in silence for some time, leaving the foothills for the steep sides of the mountains.  Klaus thought he could here savage, animal-like howls echoing faintly among the stony peaks.  The cloud of shadow grew ever and ever closer.  At last Imre broke the chilling silence.
"I suppose I should give you a little information on the great city." Imre cleared his throat and continued, "Noctheim was built by none other than Vladimir Dracul himself as a center for the empire he wished to build.  Well, a so-called "vampire slayer" came along and crushed Dracul's dreams by turning him to stone.  Now the city and Vedonsia in general is ruled by nine Bloodlines who elect a Nocteus from the ranks of ruling Sanguarchs.  A Nocteus and Sanguarch?  Your expression tells me these are foreign words to you.  The Nocteus is the the title given to lord of all Inquieta; I believe the name has its origins in Greek but comes to us through German.  Back to the point, Dracul himself made the title and position, making him the first Nocteus.  As of date the Nocteus have acquired several other titles like Grand Duke of Vedonsia, Voivode of Transylvania, etcetera etcetera.  The Sanguarchs are leading members of the Bloodline Houses, and they together form the Council of Sanguarchs.  Let us see... what have I forgotten to tell you... oh yes!  One of the Cosmarul sits on the throne currently."
As Imre was talking the world around them grew grayer and grayer, then darker and darker.  Klaus, even without his enhanced ears, could hear a multitude of bizarre and terrifying noises coming from deeper in the nightly darkness.  Strangely, Klaus's eyes had stopped itching as the the shadow increased, in fact he could see better now.  Imre stopped the cart.
"And we are here." he said with a smirk at Klaus.
Klaus looked up at the towering gates and black wall, banners of ebony and scarlet red flapping in the breeze.  They had arrived at the City of Dracul.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hamelin and Euclid

"So, you're sure you can take care of it?"
"Shouldn't be too much of a problem, Mr Caldwell, then I promise your house will be safe n' sound."
Brian Caldwell, the normally proud owner of an old estate on Henry's Ridge outside of Grayburg; a rich man and old patrician-type.  Hamelin stood in front of him, collared white shirt, brown pants and suspenders, with his hands confidently crossed behind his back.
"If you'll give me a couple minutes, your dinner party will be back in business.  Oh, and I'll take five hundred upfront."
"Oh of course." said Caldwell, unphased by the high price.  Hamelin enjoyed working for the wealthy families on Henry's Ridge because he could charge higher and get less of a reaction.  Hamelin took the check gratefully.
"Thank you, sir, I will begin right away." Hamelin walked along the expansive dark green lawns, silver dots poking through the purple sky.  He put his hands in his back pockets and whistled a tune, circling the house.  He ran the information he had been given by Caldwell through his head again.  Sometime last week Caldwell's wife had reported odd happenings; such as laundry strewn over the floor, items missing, bangings and thumpings in the night, random unseen things frightening the dog, and most horrifying to the Caldwells, the basement door would be opened and slammed during the night and old books be thrown onto the basement stairs.  It went on like this off and on, slowly fading out.  Until tonight, the whole racket happened again.  That's why Hamelin was there; he was an animal catcher, a paranormal animal catcher.
Taking a rough stone from his breast pocket, Hamelin whispered, 'Eukledhes, vgainoun.'  There was a flash of smoke and a stone golem, half again as broad as men and towering above them, eclipsed Hamelin.  His name was Euclid.  He was comprised of geometric lines and contours, and had ancient glyphs along his clavicle.
"Hello, Hamelin.  Where are we?" Euclid asked in his slow, rumbling voice.
"Caldwell Estate, outside of Grayburg.  Sounds like a poltergeist, or some kind of revenant spirit.  So I decided to call you up; not sure what to expect."
Hamelin motioned for his giant, stone friend to follow as he continued to circle the house.
"Grayburg seems to be rather busy of late busy." Euclid rumbled as he trod on the grass beside Hamelin.
"Yeah, ever since those kids went poking around in the Blackwood House; awoke all kinds of nasty critters." Hamelin spoke as his eyes surveyed the expansive property, looking in between the trees for phantoms, or in the koi pond for kappas, or near the house for revenant spirits.
"Wouldn't you not be happy for the abundance of work?" Euclid asked, gazing at a vacant bird bath as he did so.
Hamelin stopped abruptly on the stone path, throwing a hand in front of his lithic friend.
"I know what it is.  God da–ugh, those kids nosing into somethin' ain't theirs.  It's a revenant.  I knew it.  I really angry revenant." Hamelin turned to look up at Euclid.  He followed where his golem companion was looking. "Euclid!  Hey, Euclid!  We can look at birds later, but now we have a job."
"I am sorry, Hamelin, revenant you say?  Let us find it, friend." Euclid broke his gaze with the bird bath and stumped after Hamelin as he jogged across the lawn to the caretaker's house, silhouetted by the indigo sky as a black shape, appearing much more mysterious and frightening than reality.  Hamelin didn't think much of this as he reached the dark green door of the house.  He scanned the flowerbeds under the windows, all of them were bright and healthy, many curling up, hiding their vivid colors from the taint of the blanket darkness; except the roses.  Hamelin plucked one up, a droplet of blood in the gloom, and picked off a few of the velvety petals, some slipped through his fingers and started to drift in the whisper of the night breeze, but then stopped, as by a wall or invisible hand so as to then bring them back to be part of a bouquet.  The crimson petals drifted back, past Hamelin and Euclid, to flow up against the door, murmuring against it's forest hues.  Hamelin let the rest of the flower fall to the ground.
"Yep, just as I thought.  There's a poltergeist in there." Hamelin stepped up, right in front of the door.  Licking his lips and rubbing his hands together, Hamelin grasped the door handle and opened it, just a crack.  A chill breath moaned out of the crack like a warning, only a threat to what was to come if one continued into the house, brushing past Hamelin's face, chilling him to the bone.  Hamelin threw one last glance at Euclid behind him, and opened the door all the way.  The interior of the house was black.  No lamp or light was on in the entire house.  Hamelin stepped over the thresh hold, another chill wind rushed past him, ruffling his shirt as it departed.  Euclid stooped as he entered and stood beside Hamelin, gemstone eyes searching the room, seeing things hidden from the naked human eye.  A small movement warned Euclid what was about to happen seconds before it did.  A small object hurled itself across the dark room, flying at Hamelin to strike him down; Euclid simply moved his stony bulk in front of his small friend, the object bouncing harmlessly off his shoulder.
"Thanks." Hamelin said, smiling at his friend.
Euclid nodded in a silent 'your welcome', then bent down and picked up the small object between his baseball bat-sized fingers.  Hamelin held out his hand and Euclid deposited the thing obligingly in the small, fleshy hand.
"It's a trowel." Hamelin's surprise showed through his voice.
"Does this mean that the caretaker is, in fact, the revenant.?" Euclid asked.
"Poltergeist wouldn't have thrown it if it wasn't important to him."
Hamelin held onto the little shovel as he walked into the middle of the room; couches and coffee tables shrouded in the rising moon light of the window.  A newspaper clipping lay in the silver beam.  Hamelin bent over to read the article while Euclid kept watch, alert for more hauntings.
"The original caretaker died less than a month ago, a replacement was hired, but he fell ill not a week before all the hauntings started.  This spirit is older than I thought," a floorboard creaked above them, Hamelin looked up, "and I think I know where it is." Hamelin crept up the stairs to the bedroom, Euclid not far behind, and inspected the ceiling for an attic access ladder.
"Ah, there you are." Hamelin pulled the hatch open and guided the ladder down to the carpet.  Ascending the ladder, Hamelin looked about the attic room.  It was dusty, a layer of gray particles blanketed the room, making the room seem quiet and still.  Piles and boxes of stuff, junk, filled the wooden space; all of them shrouded in dust.  A single window across from Hamelin let the eerie silver light of the moon dimly lit the silent sepulcher of a room.  Hamelin noticed a drawer in one corner; a solid thing of aged wood and ornate carving with four drawers, and a large rent down one edge.  The dust began to move by a breeze that was not there; motes of dust swirled around into a cloud in front of the window, obscuring the moonlight and leaving the room in a dull gloom.  The dust settled and, standing before them, was a woman, clothed in a corset and gown,  A gruesome wound poured phantasmal blood down her dress.
"Uh uh, woman revenant.  Let me just inspect this drawer of here–" Hamelin had started to take a step toward the dresser when the specter of the woman lunged over the boxes of junk, face changed from sad confusion into a twisted snarl of rage.  Hamelin was caught a bit of guard.  But as the phantom neared, Hamelin's fists burst into scarlet flames and he raised his fist, punching the revenant right in the face.  The thing uttered a hushed howl as she keeled backwards.  Hamelin, hands extinguished, raced over to the dresser, booted feet knocking aside various chests and boxes of books and heirlooms.  He reached the dresser, pulling out the drawers and dumping their contents on the wooden planks of the floor.  One item in particular caught his eye; a book or diary, bound in black leather, with the stink of ectoplasm about it.  He tossed the drawer to the side and snatched the book up, flipping through it's pages.  They were a collection of love letters, written two hundred years ago, between this ghost of a woman here, Ms Caldwell, an ancestor of Brian Caldwell, and the one of the groundkeeper boys of the time.  Hamelin was able to surmise her story from there.  She might have been engaged, or even married, but often shared the bed of the working young man.  Either her fiancee or the young man did away with her.  And then she has been killing the subsequent groundkeepers, and probably the stuff she would throw around in the main house were book belonging to one of the homicidal men in her life.  Hamelin didn't care to stick around much long so, hand once again aflame, he bathed the book in fire; turning it to ash.  The poltergeist was gone.
"Ok, Euclid, let's go get the rest of that money." Hamelin said, pocketing the only surviving scrap of the book, his face a forced smirk.       

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lance DeMoi and the Lost World

The cold mountain wind snatched at Lance's trench coat as he climbed up the sheer rock face, snow stinging his eyes and numbing his hands.  He finally hauled himself to the top of the jagged mountain, it's rough peak capped in freezing snow and ice.  His destination lay before him on a peak lower than the one he stood on; a medieval fortress, it's parapets and towers blanketed in white, the old battlements abandoned.  Lance caught his breath, gulping in the frigid mountain air.  Wiping ice flecks from his eyes, Lance gazed at the Cappadocian stronghold, which had the appearance of desolation.  He shrugged, straightening, and started the climb down.
He stood, breath steaming about him, gazing up at the decrepit turrets of the fort.  He listened intently, waiting.  The wind raced past him, blowing his coat; an old tree creaked nearby; and something else, the faintest hint of a clatter of stones.  The wind suddenly died down.  A voice spoke from above him, piercing the crisp silence like an archer's well-aimed arrow.
"Halt there, traveler.  No man has entered this stronghold for nigh a millennia.  And I am not keen on thy entering into the forbidden depths of the Library of Hesiod."  A man stood on an outcropping of rock, gazing down at Lance.  The man had on a chain shirt; about his waist he wore a sash; a scarlet cape hung limply on his shoulders; and in his hand he held an ash-hafted, leaf bladed spear.
"Well, I'm afraid I must insist."  Lance said cooly.  He wished a gun would work on this guy, but sadly members of eras past weren't affected by such weapons.
The Guardian swung his lance into a defensive position.  He whistled sharply between his teeth.  A wall of armored guards appeared on the ledge that the Library sat on.  Lance swore under his breath.  He threw off his trench coat, a jumpsuit underneath, and drew Excalibur off his back all in one smooth motion.  The guards lowered their glaives and spears, thundering off the ledge and rushing on him with the noise of a great wave; dust and snow flying up behind them, obscuring the Library.  Lance grabbed the shaft of the frontmost guard's glaive, breaking it and driving the splintered wood into the man.  He jumped over the corpse; thrusting his sword through the head of one guard and killing another with a kick to the ribcage.  Rolling to avoid three halberds, Lance righted, flipping his sword to a backhand position, the axeman behind him fell to the blood-soaked snow.  A particularly bold soldier came charging at Lance, spear pointed for the kill.  Lance ducked beneath the weapon, grabbed the man's arm; breaking it.  Using his inhuman strength, Lance flipped the guard over his head, taking down two others.  Stabbing and rolling over a guard's back, Lance, amid the sea of guards, continued to kick, stab, flip, and roll; swarms of guards falling to the crimson snow.  Jumping over a surprise spear thrust, Lance , parallel to the ground, smashed his booted feet into the soldier's chest.  More and more guards came pouring down the ledge; leaping onto Lance's back, only to get impaled or flipped around.  Lance rammed his blade into the plate mail covered chest of one guard; Excalibur getting stuck in bone.  Lance swore audibly now, leaving his sword and only weapon lodged in the unfortunate man.  Punching and kicking his way through, Lance almost escaped the horde, when a lucky sword blow hit his flank; tearing open his side, red blood pouring down his leg into his boot.  Lance gasped, falling to a knee, sweat obscuring his vision.  He wiped his eyes, looking around.  Steel spearheads were trained on his head.  Lance smirked.  Grabbing the shaft of the spear in front of him just below the head, and with a sharp push backwards, the spearman fell to the ground with a punctured stomach and broken spine; at the same time Lance threw himself to the feet of another guard, sixty glaives striking the stone where Lance had been a second before...

A stray droplet of blood ran down Lance's chin, he wiped it away with a slippery hand.  He stood, foot resting on one of seventy-six corpses.  The snow had long since melted and the rocks were covered in a slick layer of carnage.  The Guardian stood wide-eyed, eyes on Lance.
"I have never seen that before.  A Guard of the Library hasn't fallen in battle since Theodosius."
"Looks like I broke your record, didn't I?  I'll kill you too if you don't let me pass."  Lance said, pressing his hand against the wound on his side.
The Guardian's eyes were rueful.
"I would like to step aside and let you pass, but duty forbids me from doing so.  Prepare to be driven beyond your strength, mortal!"  the rueful eyes began to glow with an azure fire.  The Guardian seemed to grow several inches, his spear wreathed in fire.  Suddenly Lance was beside him, fist contacting jawbone.  The Guardian, eyes still blazing, screamed blood and teeth.  Lance seized the flaming spear from the raging Guardian; ash pole meeting stomach and back.  The Guardian fell to his knees.  To finish, Lance grabbed his captive's grizzled arms, bringing them in an X behind the man; and pulling.  Arms dislocated, the Guardian collapsed to the ground.
"Sorry about that, really am.  Seeing as you were forced to stop me, I am letting you live.  Feeling lucky... punk?" after he finished speaking, Lance strode to where Excalibur lay buried in one of the guards.  Wrenching the magical blade out, wiping it off on the tabard of the guard, and sheathing it on his back, Lance retrieved his coat and made his way to the Library.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lance DeMoi and the Phases of Phobos

Jack walked into the study, brushing the red sand from his boots and coat.  The Professor waited for him, sitting straight-backed behind his mahogany desk.  Hanging his immaculately dusted traveling coat on the hatstand by the door, Jack strode up to the desk and the Professor in the winged-back chair.
"Are the plans on schedule, Jack?"  the Professor asked reclining in his chair, long, pale fingers steepled.
"The unearthing continues, Professor.  This world is old and the rock is tough."
The two men looked out the casement windows: the red winds of Mars scouring the jutting rock pinnacles and stonework that reached like ancient fingers up into the light cyan sky.  Droids, spherical and roughly 32 inches across, droned to and fro, hauling loads of ruddy brown rocks away with their pneumatic claws; their circular, grate-protected eyes peering into the gloom of the terraced quarry.
"Yes," the Professor said as he stood from his leather chair, crossing over to the window in one stride, gazing out across the red desert, "this world is old.  Many secrets lie beneath the surface, similar to Earth.  But the artifacts that hide here are more potent, many times older, but much more dangerous.  Ah, here comes one of the natives."
A tall, taller than the largest man on earth, long armed and legged man came gliding across the rusty sands of Mars toward the laboratory built into the cliffside.  The blue veins and pale organs visible through his translucent skin, skeleton and muscles lying under the cloudy complexion.  A gold and rusty colored mantle covered his golden-armor clad shoulders, a similar red toga covered his torso, it's dusty hem snapping about in the wind.  A pointed, geometric, gold hafted double-bladed axe was held commandingly in his right hand.  He pushed open the polished door to the study, stooping down almost halfway; clouds of red dirt puffing up as he stomped his cleated boots on the mat.  The Aryan warrior straightened to his full height of nine feet and seven inches, his gilded war cap almost gouging the wood of the paneled ceiling.  The pale blues eyes in the transparent sockets focused on the Professor.
"Laerkasa, the muftaqora have dug down one kilo-meter.  They have found something.  A relic of the empires of old.  Perhaps you should come and investigate."  the Aryan spoke with a strange accent, rolling his R's and emphasizing his O's.
The Professor smiled, a smile that filled Jack and the Aryan with apprehension.  He stroked the gray stubble cropping up on his chin with a bony hand.
"Good, good.  Let me just get my coat.  Assemble your clan by the dig site within the hour."
The Martian warrior nodded his head sharply, then hunched out the door.
"Jack, hand me my coat will you?  I think we have finally found what the University has searched for for two centuries!"

Bacca peered around the column of weathered rock, making sure he was behind the automaton.  It was seven years ago, Bacca was only eight, when these strange, circle-footed quadrupeds rained from the sky.  One they exterminated rather quickly to examine.  The elders declared them a threat.  Another had gotten stuck in sand, so the Takkasa tribe had salvaged it.  But this one had waddled for many strides across the desert, the tribes let it go, curious as to it's destination.  It examined the cradles of the fallen gods and dug in the dirt.  Searching for something.  And that was why Bacca was sent by the elders to hunt it down; it was seeking something beneath the surface.  And the remnants of the Old Empires should stay hidden.  Bacca raised his phase rifle, adjusting the sight to make up for the eye-burning winds.  He pulled the phase igniter lever, putting the butt of his rifle against his semiopaque shoulder.  Once he destroyed this alien android and came out of the Rettssak as the victor, Bacca would be given the golden and russet mantle and toga of an Aryan warrior.  A rock clattered down a cliff behind him.  Bacca snapped his head around.  Tyasing, his blood-brother, towered over him.
"Come, Bacca," Tyasing whispered, glancing warily at the white and yellow rover, "'tis not safe for a youngling to wander alone anymore.  Our scouts tell us that the invaders have found a powerful relic.  All the clans of the Aryans are assembling for war."                        

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lance DeMoi and the Blood Wand, part 5

Lance looked up at the sky, the sun was now visible on the horizon, making it’s sluggish morning entrance into the sky.  He moved his gaze ahead of the colony of Nocturnals to the hill, and the tunnel leading into the hill.  Klaus, at the head of the line, motioned everyone to stop.
“This tunnel leads us through these hills to the Old Gate of Gog and Magog.  We will pass through the Gate, and come to an ancient circle of stones, there we will break the wand after the ritual.  Chanters, are you ready?”  Klaus turned to a group of vampires, who nodded.  The column proceeded into the tunnel, throwing everyone into blackness.  Lance turned on his earpiece.
“Testing 1 2 3,”  he said into the earpiece.  There was a moment of static.
“Lance?  That you?  Oh, boy!  This is so exciting!  I’ve found out a lot about the Blood Wand!!  So listen,”  said the voice of Napoleon, the effervescent automaton master librarian of the DPIR.
“OK, go,”  Lance said quietly into the headset.  Napoleon cleared his throat, a useless gesture for a robot.
“The Blood Wand was the magic wand owned by Hermes Trismegistus, who was at the peak of his power in 172 BC.  He was from Crete, but he traveled the known world.  He made it to southern Britain; there he took a branch from a yew tree and whittled it into a wand, and inscribed it with Germanic runes.  He placed seven demons in the wand.  Later, in 1060 AD, Welsh alchemists got their hands on the Wand and sealed the seven demons, or the ‘Seven Sons of Fire,’ tighter into the Wand, so that they may never escape.  But there is a ritual to unleash the demons – an English magician murdered the alchemists, and he dipped the Wand in the blood of English royalty.  The unleashing ritual involves soaking the Wand in royal blood again, and the only way to break the power of the Wand is for one of royal lineage to willingly break the wand into seven equal pieces, saying the proper incantation, and then burn them,”  Napoleon said over the receiver.  
Lance smiled.
“Destroying it shouldn't be a problem,”  he said.  “Now, Napoleon, tell me about the unleashing ritual,”  Lance ordered.  He stopped talking, as the tunnel had ended, and two massive iron gates stood before him, flanked by two giant statues of grotesque men.  Klaus stared in awe at the statues.
“The brothers Gog and Magog, keepers of the city of London,”  Klaus spoke softy, reverently, motioning to a werewolf next to him.
“Bring him forward, Edmund,”  the vampire commanded.  Edmund brought forward a bound and gagged human sacrifice.  Klaus took his sword and spilled the man’s blood at the foot of each statue.  Then Klaus spoke aloud.
“Gog and Magog!  It is time to open the Old Gate, London is held by the Living, take this offering of blood and let us pass!”  There was a pause, then the rusty hinges of the great doors screeched and rumbled open, allowing the fanatic vampires into the ritual site, the bottom of a circular shaft, about fifty feet down from the surface.  Lance looked up at the walls and hole leading up to the surface, he could climb it if he needed, but Cooper?  He realized Napoleon had been talking this entire time, explaining the ritual.
“Catch all that, Lance?”  the automaton asked.  
“Uh, yeah, sort of.”
“Pretty much they’re going to chant and boil the Wand in blood and water.”
“Right, and then I come in and kill everyone and take the Wand,”  Lance said confidently.
“Not exactly, once the ritual has begun, the demons are going to be restless and trying to free themselves, so you’ve got to stop them before the ritual,”  Napoleon said.
“What happens, say after the ritual?”  Lance asked.  
Napoleon coughed. 
“There’s an illustration in the book.  It’s... it’s not good.”
“What is it?”  Lance grumbled.
“Well, there’s a lot of... dead people,”  Napoleon said, sighing.  Lance grunted, he got the picture: it was action time.  Klaus stood in the center of the circle of stones, lit a fire under a cauldron, and took a vile of crimson liquid.
“The blood of English royalty!  Taken from their body this very night!”  He poured it into the cauldron, mixing it with water.  He looked up–standing above them all on the edge of the pit, was Lord Ruthven.  Tall, elegant, slender, and richly dressed, Ruthven watched over the ritual, surrounded by a group of his guards, who had constructed a tent for their Lord to stand in, protecting him from the sun’s harmful rays.   Ruthven yawned and looked at his pocket watch, then at his fancy black horse-drawn carriage behind him.  Klaus gulped and turned back to the cauldron.
Lance nudged Cooper and motioned at his crossbow,  then tore off his black robe and stabbed the vampires next to him with his stake.  He fired silver bullets at the werewolves coming at him, ash and dead wolves fell around him as he slaughtered his way to Klaus and the chanters in the middle of the pit.  Cooper covered him with his crossbow, shooting any vampire that got too close.  Klaus yelled at the chanters to go faster, throwing the Wand in the boiling blood, then unsheathed his sword and ran at Lance.  Lance wrenched a sword from the hands of a vampire he had just stabbed and parried Klaus’s powerful chop.
“Lance, you really don’t understand the power of being a vampire?”  Klaus asked,  “It gives one so much force and raw power, look at me!”  he cackled,his powerful muscles bulging,  “I was a petty thief in Aachen, I was nothing, until I robbed from a traveling vampire.  He sucked me dry, but he gave me a gift instead of killing me; he made me a vampire.”
Lance thought on this for a moment, deflecting Klaus’s sword strokes.
“Eh, vampires aren’t that great – observe.”  Lance took a match, lit it on a rock and set Klaus on fire.  Klaus hissed and jumped back, viciously smacking and patting his flaming robe.  The gunslinging vampire came then to defend his leader.  But Lance was ready, he dodged the first few shots, grabbed a rock and ran up, ramming the stone down the barrel of the shotgun.  The vampire tried to fire, but his gun just exploded in his hands, Lance jumped up and kick the vampire full in the face, he stumbled back, then turned to ash, one of Cooper’s crossbow bolts stuck in him.
Cooper was still shooting, but he couldn't fight them all, and just as he thought he would be overwhelmed, a cry went out among the remaining Nocturnals–a ring of crossbow-wielding men stood at the top of the pit, looking down on the fray below and shooting down the frantic vampires.  And at the front of the newcomers, Duncan and Lupin stood.  Klaus and Lance stopped and looked up at the men, both sword fighters were covered in cuts and gashes.  Lance thrusted at Klaus’s stomach but the vampire chief looked down and parried, then leapt onto the wall of the shaft and scrambled up.  Lance would have followed, but he remembered the Blood Wand, so he turned around and ran to the circle of standing stones, slaying the remaining chanters; he plunged his gloved hand into the boiling blood, and withdrew the Wand.  He ripped off his other glove, and ran a knife along his exposed palm, muttering the incantation as he did so.  He slathered the Wand in his blood, stated his name and spoke a royal command to the demons to stay put, and broke it into seven pieces.  He ran after Klaus.  The vampire chief, still robed in black was running away, across a farmer’s field, Lance, blood dripping from his wound, chased after him.  Klaus stopped at the top of a hill, an old tractor behind him.
“What?!  How could you have broken the Wand’s spell?  You’re not an English king or prince!”  Klaus screeched.  Lance smiled and threw the seven fragments of wood to Klaus.
“Well, my mother’s maiden name was Pendragon.”  He grinned.  Klaus froze and clenched his eyes shut.
“No!  No!  NO!  I will return, Pendragon!  I’ll repair the Wand!  I will come back!”  Klaus screamed, tears streaming from his red eyes.  Lance smiled again.
“I don’t think so.”
Klaus looked behind himself;  he saw an old tractor and canisters of kerosene.  Kerosene?  Klaus started to stumble away but Lance raised his gun and fired.  
The barrels, Klaus, and the tractor disappeared into the inferno.  
Lance exhaled, staring at the charred spot on the ground where Klaus had stood a moment before.  He turned and looked for Ruthven; all  he saw was a black horse-drawn carriage disappearing over the horizon.  Just then Cooper and Duncan ran up.  Cooper looked the remains of the tractor.
“Hey!  My old tractor!”  he yelled.  Lance and Duncan chuckled.
After Duncan explained what had happened; how he had gone home, his parents had grounded him after tending his gash, but his story was so absurd about vampires that they called a doctor, who called the police, who called the Yard who came to save the day.  The three of them, plus Lupin, sat on the brink of the circular shaft, bandaging wounds and wiping sweat from brows.  Cooper took a thermos off his belt.
“Tea, anyone?”
* * *
The DPIR plane picked Lance up around seven in the morning.  After saying good-bye to Duncan and Cooper, Lance got in and the aircraft flew off.  Grey lounged over to where Lance reclining.
“I trust things went well?”  Grey asked.
Lance nodded.
“Where’s the Blood Wand?  We wanted to study it,”  Grey frowned.
“Too powerful.  Had to destroy it,”  Lance said, yawning lazily.  Grey scowled and grumbled.
“Very well.  But now there’s a new mission.  There’s been a recent archaeological dig in Poland, a spell book has been uncovered.  We want you to check it out. Sal is already there,”  he told Lance, who nodded sleepily.
“How long until we get there?”  he asked his handler.
“Two or so hours.”
“Good, just enough time for a nap,”  Lance yawned extravagantly once again, that strange prophecy flitting back to the darker recesses of his mind, forgotten, for now.