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> Order Vampyrum: Daughter of Coldharbour
Acadian
post Sep 13 2019, 07:58 PM
Post #21


Paladin
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From: Las Vegas



The pair of vampires found plenty, but not the succulent bandits they had hoped to find for feeding.

Nice job of showing us Raven’s keen vampiric senses in several ways during their travel.

’This was me not so long ago, I thought. During that ceremony.’
- - a chilling detail indeed. ohmy.gif

Well, there goes the neighborhood, as distant vampiric cousins come squatting on Decumus Castle lands. This is quite concerning to the noble siblings I’m sure since their family works so hard to mask their nature and live among mortal neighbors without complications or interference.

It seems like Draken and Raven must become Vampire Slayers. wink.gif


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SubRosa
post Sep 13 2019, 08:38 PM
Post #22


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From: Between The Worlds



I found a good song to listen to while reading this story

I loved your description of Raven sensing the night and its denizens in all their tessellated glory.

There was also the fact that feeding was messy and bloodstains were easier to hide on dark fabrics
I loved this bow to practicality. White is definitely a bad color for vampires. Unless they have a lot of bleach...

Raven's observations about her brother are quite telling.

Potema! An excellent name for a mount!

I have a feeling this is going to be a very bad night for that vampiric fiend!


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BretonBlood
post Sep 17 2019, 05:08 PM
Post #23


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Simply amazing! Easily the best chapter yet! Watching Raven and her brilliant mind piece together what was bothering Draken was amazing, and I loved the bit about how she goes into his room and just examines everything without touching it because there is still much to be learned from what you see. Brilliant!

Again, your description of their vampiric nature doesn't fail to impress, seeing Raven's senses and how much she really takes in was spectacular.

For a minute I thought that maybe they were dealing with a werewolf since the body was torn to shreds with claw marks, though I assumed they would smell a werewolf, but then if it was a werewolf the house would have been way more destroyed. Then of course we discover the culprit right at the end! With his hideous appearance one has to wonder what strain of vampirism is he??


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Darkness Eternal
post Sep 21 2019, 05:23 AM
Post #24


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From: Coldharbour



Acadian: Not exactly what they were searching for.

I think the primary problem for any vampire of a clan like the Order, or even the Volkihar, are other vampires. For various reasons they don't like to share, and don't take kindly to their less esteemed brethren running around causing mayhem. Vampires like Janus Hassildor and Sybille Stentor come to mind.

Subrosa: Great song! I enjoyed it! Heh, the comments had me laughing!

Honestly I debated whether or not I wanted to give detail to Raven's perception of the night; it was something we're always seeing in media and books when it comes to vampires, but I felt it was necessary to add, only because vampires in the TES world, even the ones who dislike their condition, seem to comment on how beautiful the night was.

I often wondered why vampires always wore black, and let's be honest and admit that plenty of the vampires we see in media always wear it for no reason other than, well, being dark and 'edgy'. It made sense in a logical standpoint to explain why Raven prefers to wear black(hides bloodstains, easier to blend in at night, etc), though by no means ONLY wears black. White would not work well!

Raven has a sharp mind, and as her father might say, she's "too bright for her own good". She's always privy to things that may seem unorthodox or out of the ordinary. Draken's behavior certainly is.

Potema is one of Raven's favorite historical figures. Historical being relatively speaking. The events of this story take place not too long after the Wolf Queen.

Let us find out!

BretonBlood: Raven spends the majority of her time at her castle, while Draken spends a good amount of time away. She's intrusive and curious, especially where Draken's concerned.

Werewolves would be the first guess for anyone, but there are certain creatures that have an appetite as strong as a lycanthrope. He is of a different strain.


Previously on Order Vampyrum: Draken and Raven find Marent Plavius' house in shambles; there were no survivors. The two vampires are ambushed by another blood-sucking foe.

~Chapter 6: Burn This House Down~


Raven Decumus.

Once human and now a shambling atrocity, the creature before us snarled in a gargled voice yet its hideous tongue denied it the luxury of mortal speech. Despite this nightmarish situation, I refused to give into fear. I was a Decumus and a Daughter of Coldharbour. I would not disgrace my family nor Lord Molag Bal by being massacred as easily as a frightened deer taken down by a lion. I would die on my feet if I had to, while looking at my killer square in the face.

The creature growled as it measured both of us with murderous intent.

A fierce snarl filled my ears. It took me a second to realize that it came from my own throat.

I required no further prompting. In a blur of motion, I spun and formed sliced razor-sharp shards of purple-black crystal fragments and sent them at the creature with the full heat of my fury.

A spinning shard sung before my palms, slicing through the smoky air and striking my brutish target in the arm. The creature howled in pain and glared back us. Little trace of humanity remained in this Imperial's monstrous features. Those molten eyes peered out with hunger from beneath a sloping brow. A fleshy mouth grimaced.

Wincing in pain, the creature ducked before I cast another purple projectile.

So this is the creature that has been terrorizing the countryside?

It stalked forward, swatting furniture out of the way, aching for the kill, needing it. Draken prepared a ball of flame, as crystal fragments formed in my hand, ready to fly into this monster's skull.

This, I said to myself, would be too easy.

As if ill-luck was summoned by my thought, the fiend vanished into thin air, my flying shards slicing past the corner where it once stood. Before I could recover from this, an invisible battering ram smashed into my back and sent me across the room—

What—

And dumped me headfirst four feet over to the dining area unceremoniously like a sack of potatoes. I laid there, half stunned, coughing, wind knocked completely out of me, glaring at the group of constellations that wheeled around my head but cast light into the gloom around me.

The night’s already off to a bad start, and I have not even fed yet!

Draken picked up a rusty blade from the hands of one of the dead, and dived in to pierce the creature, but the beast hissed a challenge and lashed out with a backhand swipe that was amazingly hard and fast that my brother never saw it coming. The impact must have rung a huge bell in his skull as he was sent flying through the air, smashing furniture apart, twisting and tumbling until he crashed near the fireplace.

He landed with such force that his head struck with a meaty crunch. He lost his grip on the blade, and the sword slipped away from his fingers as he lay there, without thought or action.

An all-consuming wrath possessed me. The palm of my hands flared in repetition as I cast more crystals skulls at the creature—one, two, three!—and a burst of dark fragments caught it across the chest. Does that hurt, you foul thing? I thought with fierce vindication, savoring the agonized expression on that parasite's face. I hope it burns like Oblivion!

The reeling blood-sucker stumbled and and staggered into a wall. The spinning pieces sliced through the room and into the monstrous fiend. The creature staggered, and within the span of a second it vanished into thin air.

I did the same, wrapping myself in the Embrace of Shadows as I launched myself overhead to hang on the wooden beams above me. Not long after the creature appeared where I once stood, expecting me to have been there.

Searching. Sniffing.

Parasitic halfwit.

Despite those shards, I fully intended to slay the creature the proper way: with a proper cleansing of fire and silver. I whispered words into the air, and two blades winked into existence and into my empty hands.

Scarlet and shadow-colored swords from the farthest reaches of Oblivion brought into my world. Impossibly light, superbly formed, and profoundly bloodthirsty. Daedric entities made manifest into tools.

My tools.

My mental focus was ebbing away as my magical reserves began to dissipate, and the creature was a moment away from discovering me. My eyes scanned everywhere and anywhere, frantic and searching. I found myself looking at jumbled piles of broken furniture, an unconscious brother, and shattered glass surrounding the house. And that—that there—that looked like it could have been a body . . . one of the victims of these monstrosities.

A mortal.

Feeding time!

My hand stretched toward Julia Plavius' body outside, and it clenched, staying that way. For one long, long moment I merely stroked the air, feeling her body's shape under my fingers, listening to the potential shivers my cold touch brought to this cadaver, allowing unseen resonances to connect inside my head until they settled into harmony like a fine bard checking the tuning of her instrument.

And at the same time, I drew once more on the power of Oblivion. I gathered perception, and clairvoyance and siphoned into myself the instinctive, subconscious necromancer's intuition has always been an important part of my abilities. And then I began.

Plucking a Daedric entity from whatever-bloody-realm-in-Oblivion, I tossed it at the dead body on a punctuated rhythm like a beating heart which skipped a beat. The hungry beast would find me, and try to kill me, but a bard focuses on perfecting her song as much as the satisfaction of her audience. I stroked the Daedric entity in a sequence, making my song the theme of this impromptu show.

And the true inspiration, the sparkling grace note of genius that brought my corpse to life, was this fine tune: the body of Julia Plavius rose with the Daedric entity inside, and by my distant command, she moved, dispensing and bathing herself with the contents of a nearby oil lamp after breaking it upon her head. The creatures—sensing a mortal—cast its undivided attention to the reanimated woman walking into the house.

Julia's body moved as if she were alive.

The creature answered her call.

This was art. The Dark Arts.

Necromancy.

I had no interest in common acceptance that this was an immoral or evil practice. Not here. Not now. Not ever. As long as I existed, I would not bow anyone that said otherwise. It was just the opposite: I seized upon the power Dark Practice with an absolute refusal to fail, and a stark need to win.

Julia's body entered the house.

The creature pounced.

The zombie was crushed by the revenant. It found her blood—what was left of it—more appealing than mine.

Now, I sung the final song, the final line, as I brought together my hands. I moved closer, staggered a bit, but the blistering energy that formed from my grasp only intensified.

I fed the power of destruction magic with my anger, and out came the fireball that depleted all of my energy reserves.

The swirling great ball of fire swooshed through the air, and straight toward the creature and its prey, igniting the oil and broken timbers, which burst into an explosion like a vampire in the sun. Smoke gushed from its torn clothing. The creature wailed like a wraith as it was cremated in gouts of molten skin and charred bone. Nothing stood between us now but empty air, and a flank of rising fires.

I had not a second to spare. I dived forward from my perch and buried the Daedric blades deep into the monster's chest. It struggled to stand but could only rise to its knees. It was being devoured by the fire. It was the fire. Layers of flesh melted like tallow down its body. Skin peeled away. Heat contracted its lips, making the the blood-sucker's grin more hideous and frightening. Smoky fumes rose from the creature's body, which was scorched and blackened beyond recognition. Its mouth snapped tight as it convulsed once, and at last crumbled to dust.

I felt the excruciating heat of the flames upon my own pale features. Both aghast and fascinated by what has happened to the undead beast, I had tried to keep on watching, if only to be able to report what had transpired to my father, but the flames grew so bright that I had to look away.

One down.

A second went by and I stepped back, eyes wide, dust-caked blood matting my black hair where somehow my skull had split, down to the blood seeping from my arms, which dangled beside me as my swords blinked out of my realm and back into one of the planes.

How many more to go?

I stared at the walls and ceiling of the modest home, but all I could see was the raging inferno. Tongues of fire licked upward from all sides, thick columns of smoke started to pile upward like great black pillars.

On the other side of the house Draken opened his eyes, rolling over to spit blood onto the wooden floor. He shielded his eyes, as the entire place was far too bright for any of us to see clearly.

"Draken! Over here!" I shouted. "Draken! We must leave!"

My brother was dazed as his senses returned to him. He realized at last with growing horror that the entire house was ablaze. He gasped and smoke filled his mouth, sending him into a paroxysm of coughing. I closed the distance between us, eager to find a way to escape this fiery deathtrap.

We made haste to the entrance.

A scorching blast of heat and smoke drove us back toward the front door, but that was consumed entirely by the fires. My clothes and hair felt singed, and if we did not move, we would both be piles of ash on the floor. We turned back raced through the upper levels of the house. Draken shoved me ahead of him, even still I felt the heat of the flames hot against my back. It was as though I was trapped in a dragon’s lair, with the wyrm's scorching breath bearing down on us, like arms reaching to gather us in.

“Just follow me!” Draken shouted over the roar of the fire as he pulled me away from the crackling orange conflagration, which chased after us as if it were alive. Draken threw up his hand to protect his face from the searing heat while his other hand held mine. I could see the swirling orange and yellow flames reflected in Draken's red eyes.

We sagged against each other, overwhelmed by the severe heat and smoke. There must be a way out—

The floor underneath our feet shifted. My shoes lost contact with the slippery blood-ridden floor as we were both yanked down into a yawning pit that swallowed us both. Gravity seized us and we collapsed a short way below the house, crashing upon the first level and down further still. A mortal would have broken a limb or two, but I managed to stick a landing somewhat nimbly.

Draken did the same.

To my amazement, I found myself standing between a row of large wine casks. Debris and sparks sprinkled over my head, settling around us. A wine cellar, I thought with grudging admiration.

Dusting myself up, I looked around in mild curiosity. Grateful to be away from the inferno. The faint glow of the fire above us entered the cellar through the gap in the ceiling, which cast the chamber below in a better light. Though for a wine cellar, the pungent scent of garlic polluted the air. I could have choked on the stench.

Draken grabbed my arm and pulled me away from hole above us where the raging fires still roared.

"Please be more judicious in your use of fire spells!" He admonished. "We almost died!"

Beneath the icy exterior in which I wrapped myself, I was rather thrilled to see my brother alive and well, but that was not an emotion I wished to convey at this moment. There was pressing concerns.

"I killed that thing," I remarked, casting him a frosty gaze. "It looked like a vampire but—those victims—it fed on their flesh. Devoured some of them to the marrow. Whatever it was, it was not part of our clan, let alone the same bloodline. There could be more of these things out there—How is your head?"

Draken looked pained and it was not the injury on his skull. "I was taken by surprise."

"Quite right, quite right," I said to him, taking a full measure of our surroundings. "We both were. We need to know if there are any more of these creatures, and where they came from! Father needs to know—"

A sound.

What is that?

My words were cut short as I listened. The relative silence was replaced by an ear-pounding noise, the racing of a heart and breathless pants issuing from a gaping mouth from behind a wine cask—which opened wide from within. Wine did not flow from it, but rather, a mortal man!

I could drink from that just the same.

It was dark but I saw him as clear as day: olive-skinned in appearance, with nervous, rodent-like features and a bald crown with hair all around it. Holding a torch, he looked about curiously until he saw us. Then he was petrified.

"You there!" Draken said. "Wait!"

The man looked at Draken and said nothing, but when he looked at me, all color drained from his face. He was too frightened to form a coherent response. As I flashed him a predatory smile, the man yelped in fright, spun around and vanished back into the wine cask, which I saw lead into a passageway somewhere.

"Who was that?" Draken looked confused, as was I.

I grimaced as I stalked forward. "Some dead man. I hate it when they do that."

Draken was already preparing to follow. "When they do what?"

"Turn and flee for no reason." I muttered.

"There is always a reason, Raven."

"That is why I hate it."

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Oct 5 2019, 11:52 PM


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And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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Acadian
post Sep 21 2019, 06:03 PM
Post #25


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From: Las Vegas



Wonderful job! What made this fight work was how both Raven and Draken initially underestimated their foe – and paid for it. Then however, Raven found her stride with her shards, invisibility and necromantic magic. After the fight, she refused to repeat her mistake of complacence as she scanned and prepared for additional foes. Her firestorm carried the day – and almost herself and Draken with it as the pair barely escaped into the cool wine cellar below.

What’s this? A mortal? Is he to be the midnight snack the vampiric duo still seek? Where does this passageway lead? I look forward to finding out.


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BretonBlood
post Sep 23 2019, 04:14 AM
Post #26


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Joined: 9-March 15



Indeed the fight was very well written. I get the feeling you pulled some of Raven's moves from ESO, there is a dark crystal spell in that, it was the first thing I thought of when she was launching them at this blood sucking fiend. Speaking of which, I cannot wait to see which clan he is apart of, the fact that he also feeds on their flesh is interesting, it escapes me which clan that is but I vaguely remember that being mentioned...

They were fortunate enough to escape into the cellar, although not so fortunate for the the mortal man I am thinking. I sense Raven is about to become less powerful. tongue.gif But I am also curious to see where this passageway leads them, there are many possibilities.


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SubRosa
post Sep 23 2019, 03:06 PM
Post #27


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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



The monster lurking in the ceiling rafters made me think of The Lurking Fear, by HP Lovecraft, which has a ghoul that does the same thing.

A very ferocious and fun fight as they duel with invisibility. I loved your description of the bound swords.

Also a very interesting way of working necromancy, in that it is a daedra that animates the corpse, not its own former spirit, or a spiritless husk. It works really well for Raven, as you have clearly shown that her magic (nearly) always goes back to that daedric root.

Raven's use of a fire spell might have been ill-conceived. But I did love how you tied that into their discovery of the wine cellar, and the mortal down there, and finally the secret passage which he used to escape. I wonder where that leads to?






nits:
Little trace of humanity remained in this imperial's monstrous features
I am thinking you meant for Imperial to be capitalized.


I fully intended to slay [the] creature the proper way
Your 'the' went invisible where I added it.


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Darkness Eternal
post Oct 6 2019, 06:02 AM
Post #28


Master
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Joined: 10-June 11
From: Coldharbour




Acadian: Draken and Raven have been trained in swordplay, but they've never faced a feral creature like this before. There's an aspect of unpredictability when it comes to facing off against a feral animal that even young purebloods like them are caught unawares.

Fire is dangerous to vampires. Very lethal. But it can also serve to cleanse and burn away, which Raven believed would be useful here. She also believed she killed two birds with one stone; the creature, and any trace of vampires involved. We'll see if that will help the situation or not.

BretonBlood: Plenty of Raven's abilities and powers come from ESO. It made sense since both of her parents were alive during the time of the Interrgnum, which by the time of this story is ancient history. There are arts and spellcraft that have been lost in history, yet Raven's father was able to pass down and teach her and Draken a few things many people had no easy access to.

Bloodfiends are vampires that go feral, and are known to eat flesh as well as drink blood.

Heh. Raven did not leave her lair for any other reason than to feed.

Subrosa:
I am ashamed to say I have never read that before! Ghouls lurking about is a terrifying indeed. I'll make sure to check that book out. I've read on google that it is a shortstory, but a very great one.

Thanks! Raven originally carried swords with her but I realized her character is subtle in many ways, including her fighting prowess. She's not the type of woman to walk around carrying swords, not when she can literately cast them into existence. She is free to explore, attend parties, visit towns knowing she absolutely needed to fight, she could use bound weapons.

Conjuration and necromancy come hand in hand. As a matter of fact some consider it to be a subset of conjuration since it can involve summoning spirits from Oblivion. Raven likes make things more convenient. Her primary schools are conjuration, necromancy, destruction. Illusion comes naturally almost, since she's a vampire. But through most of her youth she's been fascinated and drawn by the Daedra, to the point of literally being killed and changed by a Daedric Prince.

Raven feared discovery. The Plavius' were well-known in the area, and the deaths in the countryside had already drawn too much attention from people at a vampire menace. Her father's instilled a certain belief in her as we'll come to see more about. She thought it prudent to at least burn the place lest others discover the bodies. Its harder to speculate on what caused a fire, and why than it is to find bodies half-eaten by some monster. I think Raven tried to make it more difficult. Will this work in her favor, though?

Nit fixed!


Previously on Order Vampyrum: Upon being ambushed by a bloodfiend, the two vampires fight off the creature. Raven was able to use one of the corpses to burn the house down before killing the creature, and as the flames consume the Plavius' home, Raven and Draken discover a wine cellar . . . and a man hiding there.

~Chapter 8: Gaubert of Anticlere~


Draken Decumus.

I had seen better nights.

Every inch of my fine velvet garments and polished jewelry were coated with blood, scorch marks, and grime. The fabric was soaked completely through with blood that leaked from the wound on my head; had I been a mortal man, I would have succumbed to my injury. My hair stuck to my skull, which throbbed with a burning pain that reminded me of that creature's lucky blow before my sister had taken its unholy life away. A great shame that beast killed Marent and his family. A terrible tragedy.

At least that wretched monster is dead for good, I thought, although that came as meager comfort at the moment. It would seem we are not the only ones that have encountered a vampire and lived.

We followed the mortal into the secret passageway as a high-pitched scream tore its way out of the man's throat. He raced through the path he had just came through, fleeing from the both of us. A longsword swung side to side from his belt in a leather scabbard as he shouted.

"Maker! The lungs on this one!" Raven said as she trailed behind him. "Should have been a minstrel."

All I could remember was how the man eyed me and my sister doubtfully when he first saw us.

Could I blame the man? Raven looked monstrous. I look a very mess myself, I realized, gathering my strength to pursue him further. While the flames from the house had left smoking patches on my clothes, and my skin was intact, I still felt in dire need of some rest, among other things. My skin was clammy and wet with cold blood beneath my torn and useless trappings. My throbbing head felt as if Raven's scalpel was probing around my brain. Thirsty and in need for that replenishing nectar, I forced myself to focus as we followed him through the path that led into a dark tunnel. Perhaps this man could give some of his blood, but I did not have the fortitude or the mental acuity to calculate the proper amount.

"Wait," I called out. The man wasted no time in unsheathing the blade from his scabbard, and gaining speed, as if he could not wait to leave both us and the tight confines of this corridor. His sword caught the ceiling in his hasty effort, and it slipped from his fingers to clatter on the ground. Raven got a hold on it before he could.

He was lost now, torn between facing us and going back the way he came.

Wonder if he knows something we do not, I thought, watching as he fumbled about his robes, murmuring prayers and muttering the names of the Divines. He produced a dagger that glowed with some manner of enchantment, but even that fell from his nerveless fingers.

I wasted no time, and dived in to retrieve the dagger before he could hurt us. Though I picked it up by the hilt, it felt as if the blade itself dug into my flesh. I felt the fine touches of it scrape against the palm of my hand, gnawing at my skin. Then came a searing pain as my hand began to blister and steam, burning with the pain of a thousand suns. I cried out as the item clattered to the ground.

"This consecrated blade is not for your kind, Dark One." He shouted. "Evil thing! Never shall you wield this!"

A priest? I thought. My throbbing hand burned like red-hot coals. Raven pointed the sword at him as she kicked offending dagger away from us. Or perhaps he is a monk.

"Akatosh! Dibella! Stendarr!" he proclaimed. "Protect me!"

His brown robe gave hint to his calling, while his tonsured skull shone like an egg beneath the torch he carried. An amulet of Stendarr rested on his chest, and his rubescent complexion grew ever more scarlet as he spewed his venomous words without end. "Back, Oblivion-spawn! Sinner! Back to the grave that spawned you!"

Raven seemed to find his words amusing. A heartless smirk lifted high the corners of her pallid lips. "Sinner? You must be a perfect godly man, then."

"None of us are perfect, ancient creature, but my darkest sins are not nearly as black as yours."

"Ancient? You mistake us. We are modernity personified. This game we are playing is tedious," Raven stated flatly. “And you must know that I am not a good loser. Come closer, let us talk."

With a soft wail, breathing heavily, and with one hand on the torch and another wrapped around his amulet, the man tried to distance himself from us. In shaken tones he added: "Back foul temptress! Back! I'll kill you just like I killed that other one—” But then he made a futile gesture with his hand, stepping back further, and wrenched from his throat a few words that made Raven pause in her advancement. "No matter how many of those things you create, you won't be strong enough to take over!" He paused, lips trembling. Voice wavering. "I'll take my own life before you turn me into one of you!"

“'Other one'?” I said. "What are you saying, there are more of us?"

"Get back!" he answered. "Stendarr!"

"Calm yourself," Raven whispered after awhile. "We shan't kill you. We want to help. We need to know what are you running from?"

"You burned that house down," he said. "You slaughtered them, didn't you? Like you massacred those poor souls in that dungeon!"

I took a step forward, angered by his to blatant accusation. "It is true. They are dead. Marent, Julia and all the others, but not by our hand. Those flames killed the creature that took their lives. I need to know if there are more of them! What dungeon?"

The monk blinked in horrified amazement, like a man trapped in a never-ending nightmare. He struggled to form words, realizing that we have not killed him yet. "A nest of vampires, or don't you know? Not part of your brood, are they?"

Despite his defiant attitude, the man seemed like he could not help but feel uneasy in the presence of a puissant woman like Raven as she raised a calming hand.

"Nonsense. We are not the same as those animals." I insisted. In truth, I resented being compared to such a creature, but, being mindful to the situation, I kept my tone suitably neutral. “We are pure vampire and they are no more than a diluted bloodline. They’re mindless, ravenous thin-blooded beasts. No brethren of ours."

I spoke with utmost sincerity and from the heart. As a nobleman, rather than some adventurer or warrior, I had never had occasion to hunt other vampires, but now that I was nearly killed by one, I knew I would not feel a hint of remorse should I dealt a blow to one of them. Indeed, I had spent the better part of the year to learn to come to terms with this new life—and to understand my horrific ancestry. That I had now, perhaps, might literally take arms against the loathsome undead fiends struck me as both fitting and something to be proud of, especially under the circumstances. And as far as I was concerned, even a mortal's life was held greater value than that of any thin-blooded creature.

But the verbal revelation of my condition all but sealed this man's fate.

"Creature," the man said, shaking his head. "You're all the same."

"Believe what you want," Raven said, discerning doubt in his expression. She raked her gaze across his quivering, perspiring features. "But you are alive, and in one piece. Most mortals that cross paths with vampires die or face a fate said to be worse than death. The disease some of our kind transmit, if left untreated, will kill you until you become one of us. You have not been bitten, have you?"

"Don’t talk to me about diseases!" he said. "I know of this more than anyone. You think you're like me? You may speak like a human but you aren't. Don't pretend to care. If you're going to take my life, get on with it."

“No, I am not human,” she said sharply, the man's tone eliciting an impatient scowl. "I do not believe I ever was completely human. But I do concern myself with your well-being, to a point. It would be unfortunate if you became a vampire—I would have to kill you for trespassing." She stepped closer. “But you have seen us. What we are. By rights, I should kill you here and now and dispose your body. But that would not bear any fruit, would it? Nor would insulting us with your empty words. Now, tell us, who are you? Tell us what is out there or you will rue the day you walked into this mess."

"Never, foul creature—"

Raven moved—a blur in motion—and a second later the man was looking down in alarm at the length of a silver blade pointed at his throat. Raven glared at him with her hungry gaze, her unsatisfied face only inches from his own. Cold but bright dead eyes threatened him with an instant death. His torch dropped next to his feet.

"A mortal has between nine and twelve pints of blood in his body," she said. "You, I sense, have quite an abundance of it."

"What of it?"

"Well, it will not do me any good sitting in that body of yours." Her lips peeled back, revealing pearl-white fangs that teased at his neck. "Your stubbornness is taxing my civility. Who are you?"

The monk grasped her meaning, perhaps regretting taunting us earlier.

His brain seemed to race feverishly to fashion an appropriate answer. Perhaps he would tell us, or ignore her request. Either case, it was difficult to think clearly with a sword at his throat.

Better think fast, monk, I thought, for all of our sakes. Plavius' burning house will no doubt bring others to investigate, and the man's escape from whatever threat out there would surely lead enemies in our direction. He tarried, not answering quickly enough for my sister, who snicked his skin with the sharp edge of the sword. A trickle of blood ran down his neck, mixing with the cold sweat breaking out of his flesh.

Fearing for his life, the monk broke his silence. "Brot—broth—brother Gaubert of Anticlere. I came to stay at the Weynon Priory. I haven't been a brother for long. A year."

"Why have you come here?” I asked, eyeing his manners and attire as I took a step next to my sister. I made the man aware that the murderous look in my eyes meant that lying to us would be very much against his well-being. I looked around at the path he had taken. "Where does this lead to?"

"This path leads to a well just outside of Fort Wooden Hand. There's been rumors of some unholy work in these parts. I came here alone to cleanse and purify the place. I was captured by two vampires and taken there to be their cattle. That is all, I swear!"

Raven withdrew the blade by just a hair. "You were 'taken'. You are saying the vampires that took you were capable enough to do so? Could they speak?"

"Yes, clearly. Just as we are speaking," Gaubert said. "Said they needed cattle. Plenty of cattle.' They have captured others prisoners. Kept us in individual, isolated cells. Every day they would come for one of us. The screams I heard . . . some were turned, the others were not so fortunate."

"Something does not make sense," I said, recalling the vampiric threat we fought moments ago. "A creature up there in that house was incapable of speech or thought beyond instinct. It was feral."

"Some of them go mad, turn into some hunched, maddened bloodfiends. The matriarch and patriarch controls them. Uses them as fodder for their growing forces." Gaubert eyed her with a suspicious look.

Raven and I traded glances. We made little effort to disguise our contempt and suspicion.

"Strange," I said. "That they would send an inexperienced man like you to investigate. Monks do not go adventuring into the wild to slay monsters."

Gaubert went silent, lost in thought. A twinge of sadness and anger painted his features dark. "They didn't. They didn't trust my capabilities. Said I wasn't much good. They wanted me to stay, and 'do my duties', instead of wandering around seeking glory. Guess I should have listened. I'm as good as dead anyway."

Raven nodded, accepting his answer. As did I, for I did not question the sincerity of his response. It seemed the man went to Weynon Priory for a purpose, and was denied his desires. I always thought the same of my father, I mused, seems we are both disappointments.

But we can both change that. Starting now.

I digested the man's words as I stole a glance at Raven and watched her peeved but charming face furrow in delightful merriment as she stared at Gaubert, with the same ingénue and wonder-struck enchantment of a child who has discovered some strange new animal, a jester, or found some new marvel. I had a difficult time envisioning her sparing his life, and as she took a few measured steps to him, I felt his seconds were all but counted.

As children of the Kin-father Molag Bal, and as vampiric tradition doth dictate, fangs and hypnotic eyes set ablaze, those of my kind and clan reveled in the feast, and of the thrill of the hunt. Like the flames Raven unleashed, violence in our lives had a tendency to persist. But violence was not always the course of action. Raven valued discretion, the intricate subtleties of our condition.

"I will not kill you," Raven said in a lyrical voice. "There may be some use to you. You need to tell us more if we are able to help you, but first you need to tell us. Away from here."

"Why would I help you?"

"What if I told you I can erase all of your pain? Regrets? Give you place to rest with good food to eat and fine wine to drink for the rest of yours days?" Raven raised a hand, and her eyes locked with the Gaubert's. He was unable to look away, though he tried. Surely he knew what would become of him. "You could become a new man."

Raven had cast her hand toward him like a fisherman casting a line. He walked back but lost his footing, staring up at her, being drawn by her hold.

"Yes, I can feel your defenses shattering like glass. You want this to end. You want to give in to me. All will be fine. Now, Gaubert, acknowledge me as your master!"

He stood in respectful silence, as if hypnotized.

Raven's hands gripped his head and shoulder, her demanding grasp leaving his pliant flesh exposed. For a moment the man's compliant lips quivered on a broken wisp of air, faltering—"I'll—do as you—you ask, master—" with an obedience-haunted sense of futility, childish, uncontrollable, as his mind fell servant to Raven's will.

She opened her mouth wide on jaw-hinges like a serpent yawning, and fastened on the man's throat, puncturing the skin with her pointed incisors. With a light bite, she rapturously unloosed the flood of blood, ignoring the grime, sweat, low murmurs and groans coming from him.

She fed on the man, blood trickling gently from his neck in little red rills. He said nothing as he grimaced with a sort of lopsided, reflective expression on his features, part agony, part dream, as if in this mindless stillness all his joys, merriment, worries and pains were being drained away along with his blood.

Raven's complexion transformed.

Her pale skin took on a livelier hue, and the blue web of veins and cracked, dead skin disappeared as if it had been graced by a miraculous and restorative staff; I watched the change: unlike the walking portrait of undeath she had presented moments before, her skin was becoming more ruddy and flushed, her expression in high spirits and satisfaction at the blood rushing through her body. It was possible almost to feel the power of her elation; how it flowed from her entirety in little shimmers and quakes—in the sparkle of her chestnut eyes, and in her red animated lips, and in the rapturous warmth that colored her rich cheeks pink like a newborn. This jouissance, together with the supple aspect on that refulgent face, was something that in my disheveled hungry condition I found altogether inviting. Even more so with the wound on my head that needed healing.

She looked completely and indistinguishably human. A young mortal woman, though the undeniable air of superiority clouded her.

It was a display of sheer dominating authority of willpower; it was almost regal; how Gaubert of Anticlere seemed to shrivel and bend before my sister's vampiric seduction like a frail tree in a gale.

Beguiled, unabashed, and alert, Gaubert bowed his head in deference. "What is your desire, master," he started, "If I can be of service—”

"Accompany us to Castle Decumus. You will explain to my father all that you know about these vampires—" Raven began to say as she cleaned her mouth with a cloth. "And their weaknesses, their plans, everything."

That would take time. Time we could otherwise exploit now to destroy them. If they spread their disease any further, untold numbers would be affected. I had known the Plavius' for years and years, yet the smoldering ruin behind us left no doubt our peaceful neighbors had been eliminated forever, and many more would follow if we did not act efficiently.

No doubt father would be proud if I returned home with glorious news.

"No." I said. "I say we catch them off-balance now. Wipe them out in their nest."

"I will not do such thing," Raven said, then she caught her breath, staring at me as though I had grown another head. "I have obtained what I came for. Legionnaires and villagers are no doubt on their way to investigate the fire, and Fort Wooden Hand is just short of a mile from this house. That will be the first place they flock to when they investigate. Let them deal with the vampires. If there are any survivors, father will know how to best take care of them. We must not get involved."

"I think we should destroy these monsters!” I said. "Imagine fifty of those things out there! It is our duty—"

“No, this has nothing to do with duty!” she said quickly. “This is your bloody pride talking. You want to please father to make up for whatever mistakes you have conjured up in that little tumultuous mind of yours, and indulge in a bit of revenge for that wound that creature left in your head. What good is revenge if the entire godsforsaken population knows that the son of Crassus is out gallivanting in dusty ruins filled with bodies and vampires? Would it do you any good if they connect you to the fire that consumed Plavius' house, which, I shall add, burned all the bodies and erased any trace of vampiric involvement. You do not even know what manner of vampires they are!"

"We are purebloods!"

"But we are not ancient, for all we know they could be, and very well have powers we cannot comprehend as much as experience. We do not know their numbers, nor the fortress itself. It would be far wise to wait. Father has always told us that the hand of society serves us best as tools to further our agendas, and in such case, let the witchhunters and crusaders hunt them down for us."

For a moment Raven was so agitated that I shared a bit of her concern. But she obviously was determined to leave the matter as it was—and she tried to. Yet I was unable to stop. Something had to be done. "Do as you please, Raven. Go on, take your thrall, go and inform father."

"I shall," she said as she began walking toward the path that led out into the wilderness. "The sooner the better. I can return back to my studies while you play at being a vampire hunter."

I was appalled at my sister's distorted priorities. Did she not realize that there were more important things at risk here? Even after all these years she has not let go . . .

"You can drown in your studies for all eternity, Raven, but you of all people should understand that no arcane secret can bring mother back. Do not be consumed by the past. There is no reversing it."

My sister's steel gaze fastened on me, and she dropped the sword that was in her hand. Her brow furrowed. She turned around and walked off with Gaubert at her side. Her voice echoed through the tunnel. "Keep that sword, brother. A desperate, vainglorious man on a fool's errand will need all the help he can get."


--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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Acadian
post Oct 6 2019, 07:58 PM
Post #29


Paladin
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



Once the pair of vampires got the situation under control by cornering the young priest, it was fascinating to watch as Raven put her full range of illusion-enhanced charm to work to enthrall her new mobile lunch box. Rivetingly described! goodjob.gif

Regarding how to proceed, I see some merit in both the disparate viewpoints held by Draken and Raven. That said, I find myself siding with Raven here – things will get taken care of by mortals as she describes, yet the subtlety and distance that serve her secretive family so well are retained.


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Screenshot: Buffy in Artaeum
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SubRosa
post Oct 7 2019, 04:23 PM
Post #30


Ancient
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



I love the minstrel remark.

A nice touch of the longsword being too big to use in the narrow passageway. I was thinking that right before he lost the sword.

Looks like the dagger is also a holy symbol. Ouch!

Nice use of the term thin-blood.

It looks like Raven means to make Gaubert a new cattle for Castle Ravenloft. Now that is killing two birds with one stone.

I have to agree with Raven, in that caution is advised before assaulting a lair of unknown vampires, who seem to have some unusual abilities.


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BretonBlood
post Oct 9 2019, 05:29 PM
Post #31


Agent

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Another great chapter. I really enjoyed all the vampire characteristics that you keep building and expanding upon in the story. For example, Draken being burned by the dagger, and how Raven's appearance changed as she fed. That was a great part of this chapter, I loved it! And then Raven using her powers of illusion and charm as a vampire to basically make poor Gaubert her thrall.

I am not sure who I side with because both make good points. Raven is smart for wanting to allow the mortals to settle the issue and that way Raven and Draken are not put in danger considering their overall lack of knowledge on the situation. However, Draken's viewpoint of wanting to go straight to the culprits and put an end to it now before it gets out of hand also makes sense.

Can't wait to see what happens next!


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My first short story - "A Thief's Ascension"
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- Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 16th October 2019 - 01:16 AM