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.
“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.
“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.
* * *
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.
“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.