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“But there are guards at every corner and entrance, my lord. Nobody would even dare try to infiltrate this castle. It would be suicide.”

That’s what they said about my father, Count Janus Hassildor of Skingrad, five years ago. They said the vast amount of troops and bodyguards would ensure his survival during that time of rebellion and corruption; but they were wrong, and he was assassinated by one of his own, a slippery and treacherous diplomat by the name of Terantitus Vilviano.

The source of corruption came when it was learned that my father suffered from the dreaded Porphyric Hemophilia…the vampire disease. But I should note that this isn’t the true reason that he betrayed my father. He never liked Janus; he was always jealous of his power. Everyone within our government knew about my father’s condition, and Vilviano only used this to cause a stir in the public eye, thus leading to the rebellion.

For years I watched him work for my father with a false smile. I always had a disliking for the man, and my assumption proved right on that fateful night when my father was slain. But I have abolished the traitor and his allies. I have been at the throne since my father’s death and to my knowledge all of the traitors had been killed. And until three days ago everything has gone smooth.

Even though I am the son of Janus Hassildor, he kept this fact a secret from all. Obviously because I am of his own kin, I too am also a vampire. Nobody but my father and I knew of our father-son relationship. My mother had been “asleep” for many years until she was finally set free from her own terrible condition years ago.

I have always been referred to as an ‘up and coming’ boy who knew the ways of a diplomat. The others within our government never asked questions and the transition has been extremely smooth. But like I said, three days ago that all changed for the worst.

“Do you remember what happened to my father, Remus? That is going to happen to me as well! Don’t you get it?”

My leading council member, and best friend, stared at me with a look of fear. I was now yelling loudly. I was nearing my end of not only Count of Skingrad, but my life as well. I knew it, and there was nothing that could change the uneasy feeling in my stomach. I was to die soon if I didn’t act fast.

“I have to leave this place, Remus. It’s not safe anymore. I…I want you to come with me. I don’t trust anyone now except for you. You have been my friend since early childhood, but I understand if you do not want to come with me.”

Remus looked at me for several seconds, and then responded with, “Sure, Vivian. Of course I will come. Where shall I meet you?”

“In the chapel. We’ll meet in twenty minutes.” He nodded and quickly left.

I was lucky I had a friend as good and trustful as Remus. I’ve always been able to count on him for anything, but despite my liking towards him I haven’t told him about my condition. I would never have and never will tell anyone else about it. But then again of course that doesn’t matter, because now everyone knows!

Some how and some way it was let slip that I am what I am…a vampire. The entire city knows of my condition, and that I am the son of Janus as well. The reaction has been what I expected it would be: mass panic from the citizens and many questions and accusations from my envoys. I have answered the questions with a simple ‘yes, I am a vampire’. Most everyone within my office is still on my side, or so they say. I no longer trust anyone, not even my personal scribes. To me everyone is the enemy and that is why I must leave this city, in search for a new and safer home.

After Remus left the room I gathered a bunch of clothes and put them in a large sack. Then I grabbed a couple of healing potions, a loaf of bread, and my silver dagger. I was going to leave the province of Cyrodiil and travel to Vvardenfell. What I would do there I had no clue, but I had to get out of this place.

I poked my head out the door to see if anyone was around. Nobody was there except for the many guards that I knew would be present. And feeling a little panicky, I ran out of the castle as fast as I could. I knew that I could trust no one and I needed to get out as soon as possible if I wanted to evade my killers.

When I arrived at the chapel Remus was sitting at one of the pews, and looked as if he was praying. When he realized I was present he lifted his head and I noticed he had been crying.

“What’s the matter, Remus?”

“Nothing…I…I’m just glad you still trust me, Remus. I know it must be hard to do so…”

“Think nothing of it, my friend. Now…let us leave this place once and for all!”

We left the chapel and headed out of the city, but then stopped at the stables. It wasn’t right, but we both agreed on stealing two horses to take with us. I didn’t quite like stealing from my own people, but it was the best decision. It would be too hard to travel by foot…not when we were more than likely being hunted. Of course I shouldn’t say ‘we’, for they don’t yet know that Remus has sided with me.

We rode for about thirty minutes until I looked over at Remus. The rain was still pouring down, and lightening was illuminating that sky, along with booming thunder as well. The scene was set perfect for an escape. Remus was squinting through the rain and yelled, “Can we please stop, Vivian? I am getting very tired, plus all this rain is started to get on my nerves!”

I said yes and he said, “Thanks! Just follow me! I know of a small deserted inn not too far from here!”

I simply nodded and Remus took the lead. We rode for no more than five minutes, and by this time the sun had poked its way through the angry clouds and everything seemed peaceful once more. But I could already feel something deep inside my body.

“Remus…I’m feeling funny if you know what I mean.”

And he did know what I meant because he replied, “Don’t worry, there’s plenty of shade at the inn.”

Finally I was away from the threats. Anyone who might have been hunting Remus and I surely had lost their in the bad weather. Besides, we had been moving quite fast.

We stopped at a small broken down building, with a burnt and bent sign reading “The Ole’ Inn”. Other than the broken windows and the burnt sign, most of the outer wall was still intact, and it looked as if the door had not been scratched. Remus opened the door and I stepped inside the building. A gentle breeze was coming through the windows, blowing back my long black hair. I sat upon a chair while Remus closed the door, and to my surprise, locked it as well.

“Remus, why did you lock the door? Surely you don’t think anyone is following us now?”

He turned to meet my face, and I saw that once again there were tears streaming down his cheeks. He looked so depressed, and in fact for some reason he had a guilty expression as well; as if he had done something tremendously terrible.

“What’s wrong, Remus?”

Still he stared without uttering a single word. Then something happened so quick I didn’t have time to react. Through a door on the side came three men dressed in robe with hoods covering their faces. They tackled me to the ground, roped up my hands, and then placed me back onto the chair. I started to scream for Remus to get out, for I feared that the hunters were indeed still following us and had finally caught me…but then something odd happened.

One of the men walked over and shook Remus’ hand! Remus simply continued to cry. Then he walked over and sat on a chair of his own, where the man and then said, “Don’t feel bad, Remus. You’ve done what’s best for Skingrad, and that’s all that matters.”

What’s best for Skingrad? What…could he possibly…I’ve been betrayed by my own best friend? The questions swirled around my head like an out of control cyclone raging fiercely across the sea. The one person I thought I could trust was the one person that has essentially sent me to my grave.

“I thought I could trust you Remus! But now I see your true self. You’re nothing but a traitor just like the rest of them!”

And now tears were streaming down my own cheeks, tears of despair and lost hope. Remus looked at me with a sad look and responded, “You’re a damn vampire, Vivian! What the hell are we supposed to do, let you walk around like nothing wrong?”

“I’ve been a vampire all my life and I never posed a problem! Why act now? I haven’t done anything to anyone!”

“So you say…” The man said while pulling down his cloak and at last revealing his identity. It was Scrucious, another councilman. Then the other two lifted up their hoods as well, and I saw the faces of Bellum and Sellus, councilmen as well.

“Well what do you know…you’re all traitors! I should have known it all along; I should have realized you were jealous of my position!”

“Don’t flatter yourself, Vivian. We can’t let a monster rule our city,” Scrucious said sternly.

“I never did like you, Scrucious. You’ve always been a stuck up prick.”

“Believe me, Vivian, the feeling is mutual.”

It appeared as if Remus was going to say something, but he stayed silent as the four of them started pouring oil onto the walls and floor. I knew what they were doing, yet I still couldn’t believe it. They were going to burn me alive!

“Why are you doing this? You don’t have to burn me alive! Must you bring me ever more pain and suffering?”

They ignored my pleas and continued their work. Then Remus unlocked the door and let everyone else out. He was about to walk out himself, but then he turned and looked me in the eyes. Tears were still falling from his face, and he looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, my friend.”

And that was the end of that. It was the last time I would ever see him or anyone else ever again. Seconds later a torch was lit and thrown onto the house. Flames began spreading quickly and in a matter of minutes the entire house was ablaze. Because my hands and feet were tied to the chair I was not able to move. I sat there, crying, hopelessly hoping that they would have a change in heart and that they would rescue me from the fires.

But that rescue never came. Instead the fires engulfed my body and began to peel my skin off right in front of my eyes. Now even crying hurt me. Soon the dirty deed would be done and my time on this planet would be over. I know not what awaits me after death, and I am not ashamed to say that I am scared. I only pray to Talos that it is a world I can live in without the fear of being betrayed by those closest to me. A tall wish I suppose, but then again I’ve seen stranger things happen…..
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I disagree. There was emotion there, and I did feel for the lead character.

I do think there were a couple of flaws with it though. Firstly what seems to me to be a couple of plot holes.

"Even though I am the son of Janus Hassildor, he kept this fact a secret from all. Obviously because I am of his own kin, I too am also a vampire. Nobody but my father and I knew of our father-son relationship."

The how on earth has anyone found out that he's a vampire then? Why is anyone after him at all? Then when he's on the run, leaving Skingrad for good with Remus, he's betrayed. Why? Because Scrucious won't let a monster rule the city. Fair enough, but he's leaving it for good. Remus know that. Vivian is about to be burned alive, and never once points this fact out to anyone, just tells them he never liked them!

It's a shame, because there is plenty of positives to take from this story. The relationship between Vivian and Remus does have plenty of emotion in it, and is nicely created. The tale itself is fairly exciting and very quick, at no point did my interest flag whilst reading it.

Despite the flaws I mentioned though, I did like this though. It's a nice idea, created by a writer who obviously has some talent. I just can't shake the feeling it was rushed a bit. Careful proof reading would have picked up on those inconsistencies. Perhaps the writer got too excited himself, and pressed send too early.
I saw the betrayal coming about halfway though but I think that was intentional. I can't say I related too much Vivian (though i did understand him), Remus on the other hand was very good. We didn't see much of his feelings but those implied were very good, his inner conflict as he's pushed into an impossible position - he was the one I felt for. That I liked and would perhaps have liked to see slightly more of, it was especvially emotive seen though the, unknowing, eyes of Vivian.

The thing which killed this story for me was the last couple of paragraphs, it was simply laid on too thick and tried to force emotion down the readers throat and instead broke the flow and the more delicate sympathies the reader already had. Other than these it was quite solid though.
Hmm... this piece is difficult for me to really give advice about. I can repeat once more that I never got particularly attached to the characters, but I'm not sure I can tease out why.

I'm not grabbed by it. Why not? I think, maybe, that not enough happens for me, externally (actual action) or internally (thought), or that maybe (I think this might be it) the language used isn't quite clever enough or as emotionally manipulative as might be demanded. Again, I'm not sure. I can say that this is not one of the pieces that really drew me in--something ought to be more potent.
QUOTE(guest2 @ Mar 24 2008, 01:33 AM) *

Indeed. As a reader, I feel no particular attachment to any of these characters.
It is hard, I will repeat, BLOODY HARD, to develop any character in dept when someone has a word limit.

(no, I didn't write this story biggrin.gif)

With that said, the premise of story is nice: what if you suddenly wake up one morning and find out you're being ruled by a vampire/devil/demon/insert-whichever-horrifying-monster-scares-you-most-here?

Sure, most of people would be scared shi*less... but the story really takes a too black-and-white approach. If the ruler was good, benevolent and honest, wouldn't there be voices of discontent to look past the "OMFG Vampire" bit? "Wait a minute, our lord might be bloodsucker, but at least he's better than a politician?" I think that even a redneck would prefer anything better than a politician, vampires included.

With that said, I also find the notion of betrayal in this story weak. That's the key point here - you don't stop being a TRUE friend to someone if you find out he's something you find loathing. You question yourself and then, you question yourself AGAIN. And then, you decide to leave or help him - not betray them. That's the main flaw of Remus in this story... but then again, maybe Count Viviula didn't really have true friends (which kinda defeats the whole notion of him being a good person, and that's a contradiction in the story itself).
I like the idea that the king was a vampire, and so is his son, but I'm a bit confused about when he became a vampire – Vivian says 'all his life' so he was born like that? Someone would have noticed...

I didn't like the ending, because it pulls you out of the story and you start to think 'when was the story written?' I would have liked him to escape at the end, otherwise the story is just linear with nothing to uplift it.

The story works overall, but needs a stronger ending. Something more unexpected. The betrayal of Remus was a long time coming but obvious to me unfortunately. That could have been improved.

There are a few mistakes with the syntax but these could have been corrected with a read through and grammar check. I don't think the word 'Prick' is the right one to use here, it just feels out of place, too modern.

“What’s the matter, Remus?”
“Nothing…I…I’m just glad you still trust me, Remus. I know it must be hard to do so…”

Should be Vivian, not Remus, because Remus is speaking.

The story has a good premise, but it needs a few more twists. Not bad, but in need of a rewrite. To sum up, an interesting presmise, with a well described but predictable betrayal. 6th place for me.
Plot: Somehow, Janus Hassildor is overthrown and assassinated because he's a vampire. Everyone in Skingrad knew that already, though, and they weren't making a big deal out of it at all, so it's a bit strange that they'd start now. Anyway, we're told that he's assassinated, and given the name of the deed doer, but nothing else. There could have been potential in a "Et tu, Vilviano?"-like exchange of words, except the name Vilviano sounds silly. So, Janus' secret son becomes the new Count because of carefully woven entanglements. And then, out of the blue, he starts being paranoid. (His paranoia would have been funny and neat had it been a mere delusion.) He decides to run away with his best friend, who betrays him for no reason. Motivations for the events would have been nice. Oh, yeah, and they sent councilmen to deal with the Vampire. Well, yes. Who needs Vampire hunters or mere soldiers when you've got councilmen?

Characters: Wooden, and they have no motivations. The fact that they cry doesn't make them deeper, it just makes them more inappropriately wooden.

Language: Is very clumsy. "I would never have and never will tell anyone else about it. But then again of course that doesn’t matter, because now everyone knows!". I like it because it's unintentionally amusing. "Soon the dirty deed would be done and my time on this planet would be over." Some of it doesn't make sense in a TES context, like the planet bit.

Depth: Not so much of it. It could have had it at the end, and an attempt at it is made. For instance, "But that rescue never came. Instead the fires engulfed my body and began to peel my skin off right in front of my eyes. Now even crying hurt me." Except his emotions seem mechanical, because we haven't been made to believe he's a real person.

This one had a lot of potential, but the approach wasn't the best.
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