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.  

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