6.7 - FATHER OF VAMPIRES
For all he had only encountered the celestials that day with no concept of their powers, Cain had defeated three. Granted the female had practically offered herself as a sacrifice but Beelzebub had taken some beating, mainly due to his bulk and speed. Xaphan had been defeated through the element of surprise.
Lahash, however, would be a worthy opponent indeed. Cain’s vampiric traits heightened as he rushed the angel; speed, agility, strength, talons extended, fangs primed. His abilities had been honed over the centuries, making him resilient, durable and powerful. Still, he was under no delusion that this fight was going to be easy.
The corruption which oozed from Lahash was palatable; Cain knew he would prove a testing adversary. He went in blind with no knowledge of just what these creatures were truly capable of - but he had no choice.
As the two collided, Cain’s talons slashed at the angel’s ribs, creating deep gashes. Lahash yelled and twisted avoiding further injury.
The angel was not without his own tactics. His wings were his weapons. As he spun, they became rigid like blades, their primary and secondary feathers razor-sharp and he inflicted deep cuts to Cain’s left thigh.
The counter-attack took Cain by surprise. He fell to the ground with a grunt and tumbled through the heather clasping his leg. Pulling himself up he looked skyward as another clap of thunder shook the night. Lightning showered the area in a brilliant flash and the two enemies ran at each other again.
This time Lahash curved his wings around himself like a shield and just before impact, he buffeted them open, sending Cain sailing through the air. He landed with a crunch amongst crumbled stone from the old building’s walls, dangerously close to iron rods protruding from the ground.
The angel stood, bathed in lightning, smug, superior. “You have beaten the infidels of the group. I will not be so easy.”
Cain spat some blood out, a dribble of red saliva clinging to his chin. A vortex of rage rising from the pit of his stomach injected new energy. “You will still be defeated.”
“Oh, you think so? I will crush you. Now you have taken out the others, your father will not object to me tearing you apart.”
A strangled whelp from behind made Lahash glance over his shoulder at Becky, her quivering form pitiful in the orchestra of elements. Rain fell in heavy, unforgiving droplets. She cowered even more. The angel laughed. “As for her...” He turned back to Cain. “How considerate of you to bring her out into the open. Pneumonia should finish her off if we don’t first.”
The celerity with which Cain attacked next caught Lahash off guard and they both fell to the ground battling, tumbling, Cain astride, slashing at his face and body creating a maze of cuts and gouges. Lahash reacted quickly, his wings once more the razor sharp blades. He sliced at Cain, cutting him across the chest and abdomen and nicking his arms.
The wounds stung, and blood flowed but refusing to let his injuries defeat him Cain pounced at the angel again, this time sinking his fangs into his neck. He clung tight, his talons embedding in Lahash’s shoulders as he started gulping the red fluid. But, Lahash could not be brought down as easily as Beelzebub. Once more in a flurry of bladed wings, Cain was tossed through the air.
The rain washed rivulets of blood down Lahash’s torso and legs. He raised his hand to the wound. It was deep and bleeding heavily, but he was still strong, defying a bite which would have been fatal within seconds to many.
Cain lay in pain, his shirt shredded, still clinging to him adhered by blood and rain. His hair was clamped to his face obscuring his view. As he pushed himself up he flicked his hair out of his eyes and fixed the enemy with a hateful glare. He teetered. Angel wings were keen, that was for sure, they had sliced deep. His talons ran over the cuts on his chest and legs. Secretly, he smiled as he found they had started to knit together already. The angel’s neck, however, didn’t look too good, but then again, he was far from done, he was particularly resilient.
Cain’s eyes then flitted to Becky. She was indeed a pathetic looking soul, drenched, cold and terrified. But she too had a determination. As the two adversaries had fought he’d heard the odd gasp and squeal from her, but she’d never moved. She could have gone back to the cellar for shelter and safety, yet she doggedly remained above ground. The only way to protect her was to defeat his opponent.
Cain licked his lips, relishing the residue of Lahash’s blood. The angel, although far from defeated, did not immediately make to attack again. He appeared to be waiting for Cain to say something. He certainly needed to know the numbers he was up against. “How many of you are there?”
Lahash smirked. “Concerned, are you?” When no response was forthcoming, he obliged with an answer. “There were six of us in Samael’s little troop. You have depleted that though, haven’t you?” He started towards Cain, slowly, deliberately. “There are more troops, however, with their own leaders; somewhere in this big wide world. All, I assume trying to annihilate the human race from within, so-to-speak.”
A crash of thunder sounded though it was growing more distant. Lightning still provided a silver flash over the moors and the rain kept falling, relentless. The heather ran red.
“Why? Do you think it will grant you entry into the Heavens, to govern again by His side?”
The angel scoffed. “That is not what we want.”
“Then why? What do you really hope to prove? You will die also if you bring about Armageddon.”
“As will you,” Lahash answered, candidly.
Consolation crossed Cain’s face. ”That at least would be a blessed relief for me.”
“Oh, were you feeling lonely?” Lahash mocked.
Cain stormed on. “But it still does not give you the right to try to destroy Mankind. There are the good and righteous amongst them.”
“Believe me, the humans are vile, worse than even us. We engineered some despots and such like to try and wipe out their species more speedily than they were doing under their own steam, but you kept feeding on them! They should all be exterminated, they are like parasites, bugs. As for you, perhaps things wouldn’t have been so bleak had you farmed some more of your kind. At least you would have had company.”
Lahash’s vitriolic words were full of hate and rage. He had become deranged as far as Cain could determine. But, other words once whispered in his subconscious, played over in his mind. “I am given to believe there are more like me.”
“Well, we tried. We marked them, as God marked you. Most, in fact, did not even survive the transition between the mortal and immortal realms. A few still live, yes, but they have turned more cannibal than vampire. Which perhaps may result in our goal being reached eventually but, it would take another millennium to achieve. We seem to lack that certain je nais sais quoi for making you little bloodsuckers.” Lahash eyed Cain carefully and continued to move closer. ”You, on the other hand, were created by God himself and that, therefore, makes you the Father of Vampires. You should have procreated as we’d planned.”
“Why did you so desperately want me to breed?”
“To make the talking monkeys into abominations God could not love any more or even pity. With your blood running in their veins - the very man He had marked, made others revile, reject and fear - imagine how utterly despondent He would have become with his talking monkeys then. But no, you wouldn’t play ball, would you! We want him to suffer, to regret His decision in ousting us. How dare He favour these creatures when perfection already existed at His side. To condemn us to walk amongst the likes of them is unforgivable that was why you were meant to build an army of vampires.”
So, Zepar’s intervention was confirmed. Fighting the reignited pain he took a deep breath. “You would not have been cast out had you abided by His law, instead of your own vanity.”
Lahash flexed his wings, smirking as he saw Cain flinch back. “Says you who is in constant conflict with your very nature as well as your faith. You are a killer, yes, but you are also a God in your own right...”
“Do not blaspheme!”
“Wise up little vampire! You tried to follow His ways and you failed. You were then chosen to lead an army, to right a wrong done against your father and his kin ...and again you have failed. We had to resort to turning Man against Man in a myriad of ways while you luxuriated in thinking you were doing God’s will by cleansing the world of our efforts. You have power you have not even tapped yet, I bet. But you waste it all!”
“I am not here to fight your war. I am paying penance for my own crime.”
“Which was engineered by us!”
Cain faltered. He stared at the angel, doubting his own ears. ”What?”
“I am known as the Deceiver of Divine Will. I have several tricks up my sleeve.”
Cain watched, horrified as Lahash altered, flickered, reformed. No longer was the figure in front of him an angel, tall, blond and powerful. Instead, he saw a man a few inches shorter than himself with a head full of black curls. He had broad shoulders, strong arms and legs; just like the last day he saw him alive. Havel stood before him.
Lahash laughed. “It was not your brother who slew the lamb, it was I... in his guise.”
“No!” Cain was breathing hard, his mind in turmoil. “I - I checked his hut, he was not there...”
“I know. He was tending his sheep in the folds, getting an early start, collecting fleeces and milk from the goats for his offering, as usual.”
“But he said he was going to offer a sacrifice...” Cain shook his head, refusing to believe what he was hearing or seeing.
“No, he never did. That was me. I made you think Havel was going to desecrate the altar for I knew how you would react and in so doing, we all knew God would punish you.”
The agony Cain felt in his chest was nothing to do with the injury from the angel’s wings, it had everything to do with a crippling heartache. His entire existence was a lie, orchestrated by vengeful celestial beings. He had murdered his brother believing he’d committed the ultimate sin against God and all the time his brother had been innocent.
“God must have known,” he muttered. “He sees all. Why? Why would He punish me, knowing it had been His own who had been responsible...”
“It was your hand who slew your brother, Cain. Not mine, not your father’s. Yours!”
“No! This is unjust. He would not...”
Lahash guffawed loudly. “I see the cracks widening in your veneer now. Do you dare criticise the one who created you? The one whose feet you have kissed since the day you were born? Are you saying he wronged you? Ah, you see, you are more like one of us than you were ever one of his flock.”
A red fog gripped Cain. Hurt and insurmountable pain rose, igniting an uncontrollable rage. Lahash merely smirked and once more his form flickered. The Fallen Deceiver stood before him again. Cain charged.
Lahash, assuming he was going to attack his neck again raised his arm to deflect. But he was wrong. Cain deftly avoided the defensive move gripping the angel’s arm and sinking his teeth into the flesh, severing the brachial artery.
The blood flowed like a river and he gulped it down before Lahash brought his other hand round and grabbed his hair trying to peel him away. But, once a vampire locks on, he does not surrender his prey easily. He clamped down, his teeth slicing through flesh, muscle and even bone. When he was finally dragged off, he took a sizeable strip of skin with him. Lahash cast him roughly aside with a roar. He staggered, a look of horror on his face as he realised half the flesh of his arm was gone. He was bleeding profusely.
Cain had landed badly. He cried out as two iron spikes pushed up through his side. Becky yelled and sprinted over to him.
His face was twisted in agony but also anger because she’d risked herself by coming too close. “Get away!” he growled, tugging the strip of angel skin and sinew from his teeth. “This is no place for you.”
“Shut up!” she retorted, clearly distressed but equally infuriated he’d tried to dismiss her. “I want to help, but - I’m not sure how.” She blinked against the rain and stared at the rods protruding from his waist. Frustrated, she clawed at her hair which clung to the sides of her face. She was insistent, for all her clothes were drenched and she shivered uncontrollably.
“You cannot! Now leave. Run!”
“And where the hell can I run? The bastard can fly in case it escaped your notice.”
Again he was flummoxed by her persistence. “I’m sorry,” he said, downtrodden, despondant. “But you have to try, he will be pre-occupied with me - I can at least give you time. I am done, Becky. Everything has been a lie. I have no reason to...”
“Get up!” she spat. “I saw and heard it all. The stakes have changed now, Cain, yes, but, you must finish him! The only good to come out of this is their demise! All of them! You owe it to Havel!”
He stared at her through rain-loaded lashes. For all his entire life had been driven by an illusion, she was trying to give him a reason to fight, to continue on, to perhaps even hope. He grunted agreement and started to push himself up off the rods. Pain sliced through his torso. He grimaced. Suddenly, a foot came down and pushed him back onto the metal spikes.
“Not so fast, bloodsucker!” Lahash grinned.
Cain roared, grappling, trying to push the angel back. Lahash, still bleeding from his neck and chest wounds, continued to press down, forcing the metal further through Cain’s side.
Becky then started hitting and clawing the angel’s leg but he wouldn’t ease up. Next, she grabbed his leg and bit him, sinking her teeth deep into his calf.
He yelped in disbelief and brutally kicked her off. Her body skidded across the overgrown ruins. Enraged, Lahash moved towards her as she scuttled backwards in the heather trying to get away.
Cain saw his opportunity and summoning all that he was he pushed up off the metal rods. It was agonising, rough, rusted metal tearing his insides as well as tattering his flesh. Gasping, he stood and grabbed one of the offending rods. He pulled with all his might; it was stubborn. He heaved again, and it gave way this time - just a little.
He quickly glanced over to where Becky was being pursued by Lahash. Exhaustion and the terrain were slowing her escape; the angel was almost upon her.
He roared and with a final, forceful tug the rod came free. Channelling all his strength, Cain charged at Lahash. Before the angel could react he drove the rod up into his back forcing it all the way through, piercing the heart. The scream his opponent emitted resounded over the moors and the dying winds and thunder.
With talons once more extended Cain buried them into flesh, hooking them around the scapulas and tearing the wings from the angel’s back. Lahash roared again. Blood gushed, and Cain quickly took his fill. The blood of angels soon revived him, his vitality returning at an accelerated rate. Once sated, he stepped back.
One wing lay, bloodied, on the heather, the other, still attached was rendered useless, feathers stained equally crimson. Lahash stumbled to one knee and the rod lodged in the earth, pinning him in place. Twisting as much as the iron would allow, he looked up at his attacker.
Cain moved around to face him squarely. The Fallen watched, mesmerised, as Cain’s perforated flesh knitted together, his wounds vanishing entirely. Rain splashed and battered off Lahash’s face, he blinked slowly, trying to keep his vision clear. “We - we seem to have underestimated you, bloodsucker.”
Standing with his shirt shredded, lank hair, blood-filled eyes, sharp talons and fangs, Cain looked more bedraggled than he did powerful. He was tall and toned but he was a mere shadow of the stalwart farmer he had once been. Yet, he had evolved over millennia, his body changed to accommodate its needs, becoming perfectly adapted, quick to heal. He was a survivor and his abilities were far beyond that of any mortal, or, as it so seemed any immortal being. “I was once a good man, doing everything for love of my family and my God. You destroyed it all, for your own selfish reasons. I will never forgive you nor join your ranks.” His voice was a ferocious growl, but it was laced with unfathomable sorrow.
The angel coughed, spluttering blood as it bubbled from his mouth. He managed a small laugh. “No, I can see that now. What a waste of time you have been.” Weakening, his body slid down the iron rod. He grimaced. “Your father will be most ...disappointed.”
“Indeed!” A voice said.
Cain turned to see Samael and his last remaining soldier standing in the rain, observing the latest defeat of his troop.