Drake (Book 1)

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[20]-After the drought

India

9:00 p.m.

Drake braved his way through a fearsome storm of snow and ice. The ice crystals hit his face like thousands of tiny daggers, leaving it a hue of red. Snow crunched as his feet sank into its infinite blanket. But he picked up his feet after each step and continued, his resolve burning strong. Fields of snow and tall pine trees circled him with high mountains over the horizon that scraped the sky. The wind howled as the storm intensified.

He found himself at the entrance of a forgotten fortress. Its gate remained open wide, as if inviting him in. As he entered, he was greeted by an all too familiar courtyard. Amid the courtyard sat the remains of an empty gallows. Old battlements and cannons lined the perimeter walls. Racks of snow covered spears and rifles sat idly, scattered around the fortress. Deep pits that were once lavish ponds filled to the brink with skulls.

As he took a walkway to the main cathedral behind the gallows, he peered inside the mass graves. Some skulls wore tattered trapping beyond recognition. But some shined the dark red of British army uniforms. He continued to the cathedral.

The cathedral was, without a doubt, the largest building within the fortress. Massive slabs of stone made up its wall, with heavy beams of timber supporting the ceiling. It had large stained glass windows, ribbed vaults and pointed arches. Rows of seats filled the interior, with piles of snow breaking through a breach in the ceiling. Around the broken altar laid a great cross, fallen from grace. Colorful lights of green, red, blue and yellow manifested on the floor, resembling a kaleidoscope of different shapes.

A chill touched Drake’s heart. The heavy wooden doors closed behind him. He looked over his shoulder to see Pavium. The brute of a Nosferatu stood at the entrance, slinging his war hammer and grinning maliciously. His hulking body was covered with white paint on one side, with streaks of red ribbons and horizontal bars on the others. Drake recognized those markings. But he didn’t know the Celtic runes covering his face and scalp.

“This is a trap, right?”

Pavium dropped his spiked hammer that cracked the ground and licked his lips. “That’s right.”

“I remember this place. It’s where I met Irene…”

“How befitting, then. Drake…” Pavium’s voice echoed through the cathedral. “Over the centuries, these eyes have seen many things. And now, you know what they see?”

Drake crushed the golden scarab, transforming it into Acheron. Acheron’s blade turned a scorching red.

“Now, they see you dead beneath my feet!”

Drake sighed and closed his eyes. “Dead at your feet, eh? Well then-” He disappeared in a flash and stood behind Pavium. “-go on, make it happen…”

They traded blows as steel bounced against steel. The cathedral swelled with the song of steel and thunder. Pavium moved with great speed against the much smaller Drake. He stood firm, like a fortress, negating Drake’s strikes and parrying them away. He wielded his great hammer with a certain mastery that took a lifetime to get with his quick spins and twists.

Drake’s frustration brewed. He knocked away Pavium’s hammer and dashed into him, smashing him into a wall. Bits of stone and dust fell. He pinned one arm to the wall, trapped a foot with his own and knocked the wind from Pavium’s chest. Pavium heaved as blood and spit flew from his mouth.

“It’s over,” Drake muttered.

Pavium shook his head. He summoned a hidden strength and overcame Drake’s submission. He snatched Drake by the collar of his trench coat and flung him away.

“It’ll be over when I say it’s over!”

Stubborn bastard-!

Pavium vanished into a stream of lightning, colliding into Drake. They surged through the cathedral, bouncing away from each other and tearing out chunks of the cathedral. This continued with a dance of blades. Drake appeared as a stream of blue lightning with Pavium purple. The fight led them outside as they shattered a window.

Drake dodged a savage blow that left a small crater in the ground. Even Acheron’s blade, with all its strength, couldn’t withstand a force of that magnitude. Pavium swung and hit empty air and snow. His body tired and his blows became more predictable. Drake extended the scythe that stung like a scorpion’s tail as it dug into Pavium’s flesh. The giant stumbled, and Drake seized the moment.

Pavium groaned in pain as Drake took his back. He reached behind him, but his muscles were too massive. Drake dug his claws into him and grabbed a dagger on his waist. A strike to the nape of his neck would paralyze Pavium. Vulnerabilities came in all shapes and sizes. For Nosferatu in particular, a small area just above the first thoracic vertebrae.

Though Pavium was more muscle than brain; he was no fool. He bucked Drake from his back and slammed him into the ground. Drake rolled away as Pavium’s fist broke the thick ice and earth beneath.

He composed himself and brushed off the snow from his coat. His blue eyes were fierce.

If this keeps up, I’ll be at a disadvantage…

Pavium twirled his hammer in one hand and prepared for a last strike. But the crackle of lightning caught their attention. They both looked to the blank white sky as four streams of lightning gathered into a central point above them. Each stream came from a cardinal direction. The air became dense, and the hairs on Drake’s neck stood on their own. And then there was a bright flash and a roar of thunder.

“DAMN YOU SULLIVAN!” Pavium yelled.

Drake dropped his scythe and closed his eyes as the monolithic lightning descended upon him. He opened his eyes and the world around him illuminated. Drops of rain fell onto his head as the lightning melted the snow and him…

The light drench continued falling. It’s- It’s so warm and it doesn’t hurt. I never thought my death would be this tranquil…

He thought of a woman smiling who wore a high-necked smock gown doused in yellow. Her hair was white, or perhaps red. Her eyes resembled dark honey. He couldn’t remember her name. But he knew this woman’s face from somewhere.

That’s right. Someone used to look at me like that. Such kind eyes. I wonder where she is right now. How are you doing?

He drifted into a peaceful sleep.

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