Like all good stories worth mentioning, this one to is about a woman. A woman who betrayed her kind, her race, and even her family. She did not do it for love or fame. It was not gold or jewelry that made her do it either. It was fear. Fear of death, and the darkness that comes with it.
The long nights dominated the months during the sign of The Shadow, when the moon overtook the skies, and the fog was layered thick, and the air cold; when all you could hear was the wind and the sound of wolves howling in the distance, waiting to feast on unsuspecting travelers caught outside the safety and warmth of an inn. But the wolves were not the only predators around. Even they cowered and whimpered when the masters of the night approached. For the vampire has only but a few enemies, especially at night. Especially when not alone since traveling in groups. The vampires were slowly organizing; only no one was noticing. No one was paying attention.
Chapter Two – Desma’s Chambers
“Princess Desma, the night is getting cold. Perhaps it is time to turn in. Besides my lady, today is a blood moon. Evil roams about. The safety of your chamber would be a much more appropriate place compared to this terrace.”
“What is the point Vengola? My fate is sealed. I am but a lost maiden in a lost time. My time is short, my fair maid. If you do not mind, I would much enjoy a moment to myself. Take the rest of the night off. Worry about me in the morning, for now, I’ll manage just fine.”
“I can find my own way to bed, thank you very much; besides, I want a few more minutes of this clean, crisp, mountain air. I love my family, but today is my birthday. At least an insincere attempt at my happiness would have been nice. Just go Vengola; I’ll be all right. Just need some time alone.”
“Humbly, my lady. I’ll retreat to my chambers now.”
Chapter Three –Desma’s Chambers
A gust of wind extinguished the two candles on the windowsill. The two other candles on top of the nightstand next to the bed flickered wildly, but managed to stay lit. In an attempt to let his presence be known so the Princess would be less frightened, Exantrius forced himself to make enough noise; his plan worked. The frightened girl finally noticed him.
“Who are you?” said the Princess in a timid, trembling whisper.
“My name is Exantrius; I am a vampire.”
“Help!” shouted the Princess as she fled for the door, but in a blink of an eye Exantrius moved in front of the doorway blocking the Princess’ path.
“Tell me, my lady” continued Exantrius “what can I take from you that your illness hasn’t already? Is it days? Months? Maybe a year? I can get better blood from a horse in the stables or even a rat. Don’t worry. I’m not here to hurt you.” As Exantrius finished his speech he moved out of the doorway unblocking the path. There was now more distance between the Princess and Exantrius than between the Princess and the door, but the Princess was eyeing Exantrius and not her passage to safety.
“You’re a smart woman, my lady. But I must warn you, the immortality that I can offer is not free.”
“Nothing is free. But as you said, I have days, months, maybe a year perhaps. So what do you want?”
“I want the same thing you want but on a grander scale. However, my time here is running short. I feel the guards approaching. You are the key. You deserve to know the truth. If you want to grasp your destiny meet me in the Royal Gardens after midnight. Come alone or I’ll vanish and so will your last chance to everlasting life.” Just as silently as he appeared, Exantrius vanished into thin air without a trace. The encounter was very random and so sudden that Princess Desma questioned its reality. But her illness was real, and if there was anything, regardless how insane, that might save her life, Princess Desma was willing to try it.
Chapter Four – The Gardens
“I was wondering when you were going to reveal yourself Exantrius; I assume you had to make sure that I could be trusted. So how old are you really?”
“After a few hundred years time starts becoming irrelevant. If I had to guess, I’m at least four hundred years old.
“So enough small chatter. You have a job for me. What is it?
“I want the crystal of Count Hassildor of Skingrad. The Hassildor family has ruled the area around of Skingrad for over five hundred years before the good Count could not keep his unearthly yearnings at bay. Those dark months were the fall of the oldest vampire house, House Hassildor, but the legend and the crystal was somehow saved. It was the Civil War in Skingrad that overthrew the Hassildors; that’s how your family came to power as well. But the crystal was never found so it just remained a legend.”
“So what exactly is the legend of the crystal?’ asked Princess Desma.
“Humans believe the crystal can give vampires the power of daytime. According to their legends, a vampire had the crystal over 1000 years back, and that day-walker devastated the lands for over 500 years before he mysteriously vanished. Vampires on the other hand, know better. For the most part, the crystal is worthless. Embedded in its molecules is a map. That map’s destination is the key to vampires and daylight.”
“So why not get the crystal yourself? You invaded my chambers, you know more about it then me, why do you want my help?”
“Because my fair Princess, while only a vampire can read the map, no vampire can read the map.”
“Talking in riddles does not help the situation much.”
“Well you see Princess Desma of the House Marrat, no vampire can look at the crystal and survive. The way it was crafted, one must place the crystal between their eye and the sun. The rays reflecting through the crystal reveal the location of the Well of Eternal Life. So you see, the map must be read in daylight only. Something our kind has been having some problems with, and here’s where you come in.” As soon as Exantrius finished saying that sentence, swift like the wind, he flew across to Princess Desma and bit her.
“Vampire DNA is another prerequisite when it comes to reading the crystal. You have three days at the most to complete the quest. After the third day you will die if you look at the crystal during the hours of the sun.”
“How will I find you when I have the crystal?” shouted the desperate Princess.
“By then, the vampire senses should be taking over. Let instinct dictate your actions.” And once again, as swiftly as he appeared, Exantrius was gone.
Chapter Five – Unknown location – vampire meeting hall
“Do you think your actions wise, Exantrius?” asked one of the elder vampires.
“Do you think ignoring the scrolls and the prophecy wise?” retorted Exantrius.
“The question is whether she can succeed or not. If she does, the first steps to restoring our legacy have been taken. If she fails, the crystal could be lost forever. Since Exantrius took it upon himself to dictate the time of the prophecy, we are now stuck to the path. For his sake as well as ours, I hope he’s made the right choice.” shouted the head vampire. “Nothing to do now but wait. Exantrius! I need to see you, now!”
Chapter Six – Head vampire’s private chambers
“I know what ….”
“Be quiet!” interrupted Lord Ranzor. “The time to act is now, but you weren’t supposed to have been the one to approach her.”
“Her family slaughtered my family. Her grandfather first, now her father is sitting on my throne; on my birthright! For over one hundred years I’ve dreamed about this day. Skingrad will be in Hassildor hands again.” With a grin on his face, Exantrius started walking towards the door.
“Where are you going? questioned Lord Ranzor.
“Out to dinner. Today was an early sunset. I love winter months!”
“If she finds out that you’re the last Hassildor and that you’ve been playing her since birth, she’s going to be mighty angry. Be careful with your revenge Exantrius. Don’t let it become more important than the prophecy.”
“For twenty-two years I’ve been feasting on rodents so every night I can insert some of that dirty blood in her veins and give her the symptoms of her illness. If I just wanted revenge I would have slaughtered them all in their sleep. Remember, I’m the last pure, one hundred percent vampire left alive. That crystal has been my legacy; it was created by the first day-walker, a Hassildor. So don’t tell me about honor, respect or duty! I’m hungry. I have to go.”
Chapter Seven – Cave on the outskirts of Skingrad
“Well, well, well! If it isn’t our new vampire Princess returning form her mission. So how did it go?”
“Something led me to this place. I’m so hungry. I need food. I must get food. Help me Exantrius!”
“Did you succeed? Do you know where it is?”
“YES!!!” shouted Princess Desma.
“Well, I have a surprise for you; a true feast. I have three snacks for you; you get to pick. Tied up in the corner up there is a Wood Elf. I look at them as desert; not much blood but very tasty. The knocked out Nord is probably a good filling meal, as for the squirming Argonian, he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Their blood is terrible. But hurry up and eat for we have a long journey ahead of us. These parts are not safe for our kind for a while. But we shall return here one day.”
“I think I want the elf.”
“Bon appetite, my Princess. Feed well, feed well.”
“Tell me of the Well of Eternal Life. Please Exantrius.”
“Eat and rest for now. We’ll have plenty of time to talk during our journey.”
All that is needed for evil to triumph, is that good men stand idle.