Klaus studied the Rubik’s Cube he held in his hands, turned it a few times, studied the cube some more, and turned the puzzle again. He looked at the aged pocket watch on the table in front of him; he had been working the cube for five seconds. The door of the dark, dingy room opened. A man entered; his hair was shaggy and gray, and he had a feral look about him. Klaus looked at the man, raising one dirt-caked, claw-like finger to his white lips, his other hand still worked the cube. He finished, and looked at the watch.
“Ten seconds, a new record,” he said in a slow, clear German accent. He stowed the Rubik’s cube in a drawer, and looked up at the messenger, “Yes, Edmund?” Klaus’ evil red eyes settled on the frightened werewolf. Edmund looked down at the floor as he spoke.
“Everything is ready for the first move, Sir,” said the werewolf, his eyes on the moonlit stone floor. Klaus got up from his desk, he turned and looked out the window, running a grimy hand through his filthy, knotted hair. The window gave him a view of the old fortress’ courtyard, which was full of activity; the small band of soldiers were polishing their armor, werewolves piled heavy boxes in carts, and other vampires were stacking up piles of heavy, black fabric.
“Is everything ready for Lord Ruthvun’s arrival?” Klaus asked, turning away from the window.
“Yes, Sir, all ready,” said Edmund.
“Perfect.” Klaus purred. “Nothing should interfere then with my plans!”
Just then, a battered and bruised vampire entered the courtyard.
* * *
Lance DeMoi looked out of the window, old man Cooper’s crossbow at the ready, while Cooper himself tended to Duncan’s wound. Lupin and Cooper’s hound were lounging on the floor. It was lucky really, that Duncan knew Cooper; they couldn’t have run forever.
“So, tell me again why you two are wandering around this forest at night?” Cooper asked, applying a final layer of bandages over Duncan’s gash. Lance looked away from Cooper’s silver bullet trays.
“Well, the DPIR detected increased vampire activity in this area; people disappeared in the night, we found animals mauled by werewolves, and Night Marks.”
Duncan looked up, “What’s a Night Mark?”
“It’s a symbol vampires inscribe on trees and the like, to mark their territory. Anyway, I was sent over because all the other local agents are busy elsewhere. We found out the vampire colony had found some long-lost artifact, the Wand of Evil or something, that, normally, no one cares about, but this colony leader found out the secret to open it. So I’m going to find him and get the wand and save the day; same routine every time.”
“And what brought you to my cabin?” asked Cooper as he pulled on a woolen knit cap and a sweater to keep off the chill of early morning.
“Oh, right, of course. I was inspecting an old druid circle out of professional curiosity, when this young man - Duncan right? - and his dog stumbled upon the hilltop I was on. We had to quickly get acquainted since a band of hungry vampires soon came our way. There was, amongst them, a vampire with a shotgun, and that was just unfair. A werewolf was able to get a claw on Duncan, but we got away. He told me about you, and your little sanctuary here in the woods, so we ran here.”
“Huh. Sounds serious,” though Cooper didn’t sound extremely concerned. “What about Scotland Yard detectives?”
Lance sighed. “They’re... held up. That was pretty good marksmanship back there, you been fighting Nocturnals long?”
“Yeah, I used to be part of the Night Shift, heard of it, right?”
“Well, that was a while ago; I retired in the late ‘80s. Still remember my training though. Vamps don’t come around here if they can avoid it,” Cooper chuckled.
Lance walked over to Duncan, who lay on Cooper’s bed, a bandage wrapped around his side.
“Duncan, you all right?” he asked. A nod from the boy. “It’ll be dawn soon, use Cooper’s walking stick to go home and away from the fighting.”
Lance and Cooper saw Duncan off. The boy slowly made his way into the misty forest, and out of sight.
“Won’t some beast kill ‘im now?” Cooper asked, his brow furrowed.
“I have a feeling all the ‘beasts’ are with Klaus. Besides, it will be sunup soon and,” Lance yawned, “it’s best he’s not here.”
“So, what now?” Cooper said, walking over to his weapon-laden workbench. Lance came over and picked up a silver bullet.
“Go get your gun.”
* * *
Klaus stared intently at the bandaged vampire soldier as the vampire told his story.
“He got two of our lookouts, Alan and Brutus. We found him and a boy, but he was able to out run even the werewolves. We pursued him to Cooper’s house, where the old geezer shot some of us and then set that infernal dog of his on those who remained. I barely got way from that beast of a hound,” the beaten vampire gasped.
Klaus growled, “Cooper! Once I have completed the ritual he shall feel my wrath; long have I waited for this! Tell me more about this intruder.”
A look of fear crossed the vampire warrior’s face.
“I was able to catch a glance of his eyes; his left eye was blue, like normal, but his right eye was pupilless, and green.”
Klaus screamed in rage. Pulling out his sword, he drove it into the other vampire, which helped calm him.
“So, it is finally time to meet the famous Lance DeMoi.”