The Devil's Gift

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XXII

Klomano led us inside, rolling the stone back into position after him, plunging the cave into darkness. The only source of light came from the glowing red embers of a small fire that was emanating a deep red glow that spread a few feet around the burnt logs. Klomano strode over to the fire and dipped a long stick into it. It caught fire. He then proceeded to light various candles and the room grew steadily brighter. He waved the stick in the air to extinguish the flame.

‘We need your help.’ I repeated as Klomano stuck another log on the fire. The smoke rose and floated out of the top of the cave where Klomano had filled a large hole with branches and leave, just enough to let smoke out, but also to stop sunlight coming in.

‘Why should I help you? You’ve done nothing to earn my assistance.’ Klomano spat. Venator and Sophia took a seat on the concrete floor; no expensive furniture lined the walls like it did when Klomano led the Venetian Clan. ‘And what is she?’ Klomano pointed to Sophia who looked outraged.

‘Yes,’ I began as I figured out where to start. ‘She is an angel.’ A confused look swept over Klomano’s dirty face and he hitched up his brown cloak which was equally dirty. As the hours passed, I explained to Klomano what was happening, occasionally putting my hand up to stop Klomano interrupting as his face morphed into outrage.

‘So you see? It’s not just about us anymore, there are much more powerful foes at hand than each other.’ Klomano looked thoughtful and did not reply straight away, taking time to carefully place another log on the fire and sit back down.

‘I never dreamed it would come to this. I suppose we have little choice, or neither of us will live.’ Relief swept over me and I could not help but feel a little grateful, this was one of the trickiest parts to this plan, but so far, all was well.

‘Make no mistake though,’ Klomano began, his voice like steel, ‘once the threat is gone, so ends our temporary peace.’ I merely nodded and stood up, it must be dark by now. Sophia and Venator calmly stood by the fire as I swept over to the door. With a great push, the large stone fell away from the cliff face revealing a crescent moon, slightly hidden by the clouds that were creeping in. Sophia shivered as she stepped into the chilly wind and I hugged her tight. Klomano appeared at the entrance and looked unwilling to go any further.

‘I shall call upon my allies, or what remains of them, and I will meet you at the castle in two days’ time. If you would inform your guards of this, I would be grateful.’ Again I just nodded as Klomano heaved the giant rock into place and disappeared inside. The entrance seemed to melt away into the cliff face, seemingly a part of it. As I looked out over the lands, little white flakes started to fall from the sky. I heaved a great sigh and beckoned the others to follow me back down the mountain. The path downwards was much, much quicker and only took half the time to reach the trees at Corno Bianco’s base. We were soon flitting through the trees, the dry grass slightly crunching under our feet. Hot dirt flicked in all directions as Venator tore through the ground at impressive speed. Every now and then the trees would part and the sky would become visible. I watched closely as the moon drifted across the sky.

‘Make haste, I doubt we have long before the sun rises.’ We all seemed to kick up a gear and darted across the ground that seemed to grow with life as we tore on, the grass became greener and the sky became lighter. We shot through the forest on the outskirts of the castle and not a moment later, were bolting the large door shut behind us.

‘So far so good.’ I said with a little smile. As we strode down the corridor, we knew that the sun must have risen by now. I approached the council chamber and stood in front of the guard that stood to the left of the door. He quivered ever so slightly under my gaze.

‘Tell the commander Klomano and his allies will be joining us in two days.’ I ordered. The guard looked confused but nodded nevertheless and walked away in search of the commander. I watched the man stalk around the corner, his shadow flickering from a nearby candle. As I turned around, my sensitive ears tuned in to a faint knocking, it came from the front door.

‘Who would be knocking here? Klomano can’t be here already.’ I thought. I listened carefully as someone approached the door and opened it from the inside, most likely a guard.

‘Yes?’ The guard spoke to the visitor. At once, a roaring cry erupted from the front door and the guard’s voice vanished. I was in shock and quickly told Sophia to stay with Venator, and shot down the corridor towards the door. It was ajar. Luckily the sun was behind thick, grey clouds. In the doors frame stood ten people, clad in deep red robes, their faces shrouded in darkness from the hoods they wore over their faces. At their feet lay a pile of dark grey ash that was smoking slightly, a large halberd to its side. The guard. I filled with rage.

‘What have you done?’ I roared and made my way towards them. Out of nowhere, a large, fiery ball of light shot straight towards me, I dodged it just in time and it exploded on a large tapestry that once looked emerald-green, but now lay in ashes. My face contorted with shock as I stared incredulously at the source of the fireball. With his arm outstretched, the figure could be seen wielding a cross, encrusted with jewels, like a weapon. This was impossible. I noticed now that they each held a cross, and all were pointing toward me. Silently, and quickly, the crosses each started to glow red and within a fraction of a second, ten large balls of fire shot straight towards me. I flipped and twisted, narrowly avoiding the flames as they shot past me and exploded onto the walls, shattering blood fountains and scorching the stone.

Attracted by the noise of the commotion, a dozen vampires flooded the corridor, all staring in disbelief at the attackers and their holy weapons. I ordered a retreat as more fireballs narrowly avoided my left ear. A female vampire was not so lucky and she was hit straight in the back with a fireball. Her whole body lunged forward as it burst into ash before she landed. Another vampire, distracted by the death of his friend was caught too in the crossfire and joined her as a pile of smouldering ash on the floor. The remaining vampires fled for safety as the attackers bared down upon us, firing balls of fire like magic from their crosses.

We were pushed down into the training ground where vampires had congregated with weapons. One male vampire, built like stone bore down on one of the attackers brandishing a menacing looking scimitar. He just managed to hack down two of the attackers before he was blasted with another eight fireballs, the force of it scattering his ashes over the room. As they charged up their crosses, Reyjak appeared, though was not seen by the attackers due to his incredible speed and stealth. Reyjak managed to kill another three by throwing them into the walls, smashing into the stone as they struck the wall, before he decided it was too risky to attempt to kill the others, he joined me taking cover by concrete pillars. The remaining five attackers started to panic and fired the explosive balls of fire all around the room, not aiming at anyone in particular. The vampires ducked and dived as furniture was blown to pieces. Shards of wood rained down on us. None of the vampires could get close enough to cease the relentless attacks.

Many tried but were turned to ash in their failed attempt. Just when all hope looked bleak, Venator came tearing through the training ground, the attackers focused fire on the werewolf but the fireballs seemed to bounce off him. They fled and took shelter from the werewolf. Venator circled them and using his formidable teeth, bit into the throat of one of the attackers. At this, Sophia walked calmly into the room, I shouted to her to tell her to get back, but she either couldn’t or refused to listen to me. The last two attackers fired everything they could at Sophia but surprisingly she swirled her hands in the air and dispelled the flames that would have hit her straight on. She stopped in front of them and they seemed unable to move.

‘I think it’s high time you left. Here, let me show you the way out.’ With a scream, she swirled her hands once more and without touching them attackers, hit them with such force they were blown straight through the concrete wall. I stared disbelievingly at her. The remaining vampires slowly stood and looked at the ruins of the training ground. Windows were smashed and the smoked glass lay in pieces on the ground. Thankfully, the sun was still shrouded in clouds.

‘What in the name of Satan, were they?’ Was the first thing I managed to say.

‘I don’t know. I’d guess they were humans, with supernatural capabilities. Deus.’ Concluded Sophia. ‘If I had to guess, I’d say Deus contacted these select few cardinals and gave them the power of the Holy Cross, in return, they must wipe out the clan-king and his followers. Perhaps in an attempt to wound us before the angels are sent. Pawns on a chessboard sent to kill as many as they can before the queen makes her move.’ This sounded about right. I couldn’t think of another explanation. As the other vampires were told to board up the wall and windows, I led Sophia away, thanking her and Venator profusely.

‘How did you do that?’ I asked as soon as we were alone in our bedroom.

‘Ever since I declared my support for Lucia, I felt my powers… Morph. They’ve adapted to my new lifestyle, considering I no longer follow Deus.’ I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by this, her powers morphing, I wasn’t aware powers could morph. Reyjak appeared in the doorway.

‘Sire, I’m not sure Klomano’s forces are going to be enough. If angels are sent along with these… things, what hope do we have?’ I thought on this, though I had to admit, Reyjak was right, we were not prepared for a full-scale attack. We needed more support. There were four other places I could think of where I had good strong connections.

‘How soon can we have a ship ready to sail, I want messages delivered to the Lords of China, Russia, America and England’ I asked Reyjak.

‘With the tide.’ He replied simply.

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