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. 

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