* * *
Lance and Cooper, grabbing crossbows, stakes, and guns, along with extra ammo, left for the fort. Lance led the way as they weaved through the trees and underbrush. Soon the ancient wall of the faerie citadel came into view. They crept up to the wall, though their stealth was wasted, as there was no sentries. Lance cocked his revolver, then kicked open a side door in the wall, Cooper right behind him, crossbow ready. But the courtyard was completely empty; only leaves moved in the breeze. Lance motioned for Cooper to stay down as he slid over to an open doorway, which led to a hallway. He looked down the passageway leading into the ruined keep; it was still quite dark, but his magic eye could see someone standing at the other end of the corridor. The shadowed figure strode closer; he was short, but compact, with a broad, chalk-white face, evil red eyes and nasty scars. In his hand he held a three-foot long sword.
“Klaus, the mastermind himself,” said Lance taking a step forward, a stake hidden behind his back.
“Yes. And you must be Lance DeMoi, I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Oh,” Lance smiled, “only the good stuff, I hope.”
“You thwarted Ignatius Trivius’s locust invasion of Europe, you had the rashness to challenge the gods of Olympus and Babylon, you and your imbecile friends happened to get lucky and stop the Noctheim War, and of course you found the gateway into Atlantis; you’ve killed many and many have tried to kill you, but, sadly, none succeeded.”
“You’re too kind,” Lance said in mock gratitude.
“Yes, DeMoi, your feats are many, but let me tell you something; you are the twenty-fourth person to come and try to slay me in my vampire life. And as you can see, I am here still,” Klaus said, smiling and slicing his sword through the air. While Klaus was talking, Lance had taken a smoke pellet out of one of the pouches on his belt. The vampire took another step toward him, Lance threw the pellet on the ground and it exploded into a cloud of smoke. Klaus was left facing an empty hallway.
“I can smell you, DeMoi. One of the downsides of having blood in your veins.”
Lance, who was hanging onto the ceiling, held his breath. Klaus looked up, just as Lance threw a stake down. The sharpened spike stuck into Klaus’s shoulder, who nearly dropped his sword. Lance grabbed a hook on the wall and swung down, kicking Klaus in the face with both feet. The Nocturnal stumbled backwards, regained his balance, then charged at Lance. The agent leaped over Klaus and thrust a stake at his back, but the vampire jumped to the side. Klaus kicked the legs out from under Lance, then kicked him out into the courtyard. Lance landed on a pile of crates, then turned over and wiped some blood from his mouth. Klaus leapt up onto the wall as Cooper ran over.
“Do not follow me, DeMoi. You’re too late anyway, the ritual has begun.” And then he was gone. As Lance got up, four werewolf grunts came into the courtyard, hefting big clubs and axes. Lance whipped out his revolver.
* * *
Klaus brushed the dirt off his shabby black robe as he strode through the woods, he easily caught up with the colony. Everyone was covered from head to foot in thick black robes, their faces hidden by veils and hoods. Klaus looked at the horizon; light was forming above the skyline of London.
“Ah, dawn. The time when all the evil things that creep and crawl and howl in the dark would skulk back to their caves and burrows. But, not today. Our task requires we stay up, even as the sun rises. We shall proceed to a hidden tunnel. The tunnel will lead us to the Old Gate of Gog and Magog. And there, we, the Sons of Dracula, shall declare open war on the humans and deliver our first strike. May the humans here our cries and tremble!” Klaus announced to his colony, who cheered and then continued on their way, to the tunnel and the Old Gate. The two rear guards moseyed after the others, talking about their favored blood types and their favorite models from Vampiress Monthly. Suddenly, hands shot out of the bushes and dragged the guards into the underbrush. After a short squabble, two new guards came quickly out of the bushes and caught up with the others.
“That was easy. Just like in the movies,” said Lance, making sure he was completely covered. Cooper kept adjusting his robe.
“Kind of petite, these guys.”
“That, or you’re just not as trim as you used to be,” said Lance with a smile. Cooper looked down at his belly, then chortled. Lance picked up some noise coming from over a hedge, to the side of the old path they were following. Making sure the other vampires didn’t notice, Lance and Cooper walked over to the bush and looked around; two dogs were circling each other just behind the hedge. Lance looked at the two canines, one was massive and gray, the other was definitely a Labrador retriever. He got an idea.
“Lupin!” he whispered. The retriever looked up, his tail wagging. Lance smiled, looking closer at the dog’s collar.
“It’s Duncan’s dog,” he said to Cooper, then to the dog, “Go home Lupin, go find Duncan!” Lance thought it was the name “Duncan” that made the dog leap into action, bounding away into the forest. Cooper was staring at the wolf.
“DeMoi, that’s not a wolf,” Cooper said slowly. Lance looked at the beast; slitted pupils, two rows of fangs, and five inch claws, definitely not your normal wolf.
“Cooper! Watch out!” Lance whispered harshly, pulling out his own revolver and firing at the werewolf who leapt over the hedge at them. Lance’s aim was true, the beast fell dead at his feet. Lance kicked the corpse viciously.
“I hate werewolves!” he spat, kicking the monster again for good measure.
“One nearly get you when you were younger?” Cooper asked, noting the loathing in Lance’s voice.
“A werewolf murdered my uncle,” Lance growled.
“Oh. I’m sorry... well, good thing your gun has a silencer,” said Cooper gratefully, looking at the fading column of black-robed vampires. “Come on, DeMoi, let’s catch up.” Cooper motioned for Lance to come.