The Devil's Gift

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XXIII

By the time night had fallen, Reyjak had hired the services of an experienced captain to take the messages across the globe.

I stated in the letters they were to join me at Castle Blackmoor. The four Lords were Markus, who was Lord of English Clans, Iandu Lord of the Chinese, Dale Lord of the Americans and Riodean, Lord of the Russians clans. I had already had messages being delivered to the four Lords. Of course, I neglected to mention the small fact we could be facing the end of the vampires. There were many Clans across the globe, though some are few in numbers, ten at the most. The Clan Lord Markus ruled numbered approximately four hundred.

During one of the evenings I spent waiting for the arrival of our guests, Broman stood before me, hoping to speak.

‘Sire, I was hoping to catch you. I wondered whether you would be able to show me so unarmed combat techniques, I’m favourable with a blade, but you seem to have mastered the art of unarmed combat too.’ He said.

I nodded my head,

‘Of course, we shall need the most capable warriors of all when the angels arrive.’

I led Broman outside to a clear space of the garden. For a while I demonstrated how to effectively parry and how to judge what attack the opponent was going to make. Broman was a fast learner. I then showed him techniques from the Japanese, how to apply locks and holds, how to strike effectively. Again, he quickly mastered these. ‘Excellent!’ I said as he successfully applied one of the more advanced locks which would then develop into a throw should his opponent continue to struggle.

Very soon we had acquired a small group of onlookers.

Two days passed quickly and soon, Klomano arrived with a great deal of vampires all loyal to him. I was reluctant to let him stay in the castle but I had no other option. A number of vampires from my own clan had taken to arguing with members from Klomano’s which did nothing to improve the overall atmosphere. Tension was running high when Klomano decided to join me in the library. Earlier that day, I decided to see if I could find any books that might help see if the cardinals had ever before been known to wield such horrific power. No matter how many books I pored over, not a single statement or report of any type showed signs of cardinals, or anyone for that matter, wielding power like that.

Frustrated, I slammed the book down onto the pine table and looked up, peering through the shelves of books. A pair of leather boots walked towards and Klomano took a seat opposite me on the table.

‘No success I take it?’ He said in a strained casual voice. I did not want to engage in conversation but the frustration overwhelmed me and I could not help but reply,

‘None, not a single mention at all, it’s as if God never existed until now.’

‘It does seem rather peculiar. I’ve not heard of anyone being able to do that before. Is there not a way we can protect ourselves from the damage? I can’t help but feel if the angels strike in daylight, alongside those… People, we really don’t stand a chance.’ Though I hated admitting anything that traitor said was true, I could not deny it, we’d be slaughtered. I thought in silence for a moment. What if I could protect myself from the sunlight? Sophia spoke before about powers morphing, why couldn’t ours? I knew that if there was at least one place in which something so magical might take place, it would be Agartha. A brilliant idea struck me.

I stood up quickly, Klomano hosting a puzzled look, and sped out of the library and down the corridor. I turned this way and that, past tapestries, candles and many doors until I flung open the door behind which Sophia was. I entered my bedroom quickly, the idea of being able to prevent the damage of sunlight was exciting. I spared no time in relaying my idea to Sophia who did not react quite as I hoped.

‘But how? How are you supposed to make powers morph at will, Roconn I’m sorry but I don’t think we have the time for following up on something that may not even work.’ Of course she was right, but I did not want to put the idea out of my mind and so I merely accepted her comments and restrained myself from countering her argument. I would wait until the four lords arrived before speaking further about this with her.

After that, the days past with surprising speed and I constantly found myself wandering the halls of the castle almost waiting for the attack, though I know Sophia would inform me when it would be about to begin.

Finally, during one warm night which I had spent so far in the council chamber, sitting with Sophia in almost silence, my ears were filled with a booming knock. I stood up and hastily made my way to the door which had already been opened by a guard bearing a halberd.

‘Good evening, Lord Roconn is expecting my company, would you tell him Lord Markus has arrived from England.’

‘There is no need Markus.’ I spoke loudly as the guard had opened his mouth to reply. He looked at me and then at Markus and then back again. ‘You’re dismissed, return to your duties.’ I said to the guard who instantly bowed and swept away.

‘It has been a long time my lord.’ Said Markus with a bow. ‘I hear Iandu, Dale and Riodean are on the way, sire, what has urged the creation of what appears to be an army?’ He asked me, returning to his feet. I told him to follow me and made way to the council chamber once more. Markus was a tall man dressed in thick leather armour, his wide jaw was covered with stubble, he was particularly well-built with broad shoulders and blue eyes. His shoulder length hair was a dark brown giving him a look that emanated a warrior. His looks portrayed his personality perfectly, he was indeed a good warrior, one of the best I knew, having been a soldier before he was turned.

Once inside he greeted Sophia and asked where Maria was. Sophia left the room at this point insisting she wanted to lie down, I was grateful for this as I then relayed the entire story of Maria and then of the angels and of Sophia. He was surely shocked to say the least and paid his respects to Maria, which I thanked him for. The conversation then turned to the creation of the first vampire army.

‘The angels are coming to destroy the foetus that grows in Sophia’s womb, I will not allow it to be destroyed. My child.’ I said. After a lengthy conversation that swayed off the subject of our almost imminent death, I showed him to his quarters and left to locate Sophia who was laying on our bed, book in hand. I sat beside her.

‘We’re going to get through this, you know that right? I will make sure of it.’ I said to her, placing a hand on her stomach. Over the next three days Iandu, Dale and Riodean arrived and I went through the entire conversation I had with Markus with each of them. On the evening of Iandu’s arrival I lead them out into the garden.

Iandu was rather short but no less hardened a vampire than Markus. He was well-built like the other leaders. Iandu was always armed and today he had a short steel sword swinging at his side. He had very short hair and a thin face. Dale was rather stocky with thick arms, brown eyes, and square shaped face whereas Riodean looked smaller, almost as tall as Markus but his muscles were not as defined nor as thick as Dale’s. What he lacked in body mass, he made up for in speed and skill with two daggers that hung either side of him. Dale elected to wield a big two handed broadsword which he slung over his back. I opted to go hunting which they all seemed rather happy in accompanying me.

We left the castle’s grounds and were soon in the town. Due to it being about half past one in the morning, the streets were empty save a few drunks who always appeared to be there any time of the day. We each split up to hunt. I tracked and followed a middle-aged man, quite hairy and very drunk to a large park that was empty. I began to stalk him through the park until I was confident there was no one around. As I then took the final leap to attack him from the air, my instincts instantly told me I would regret doing so. Unable to prevent myself from falling towards him, he turned and faced me wielding what my suspicions had confirmed. It was a holy cross, I saw the red glow as it charged and then saw the fiery ball of light hurtle towards me, I managed to lean to one side and it missed me by centimetres. I landed on the ground where he had been stood moments ago and face my prey which had now taken a stand of defence. The man who was obviously feigning intoxication, and quite marvellously so, began a relentless attack. He fired the balls of light one after another. It was all I could do to dodge them. I briefly wondered whether this was happening to the others but I was distracted by yet another ball of light.

In between each dodge I crept forwards unnoticed by my attacker who was intent on turning me to ash. I was soon feet from him before he realised I was edging forward, he hastily attempted to retreat a few paces and in doing so, opened a window for my own attack, I leapt towards him knocking him to the ground. Upon impact the crucifix flew out of his hand away into the night. I pounced upon him pinning him to the ground, venom spitting onto his face as my teeth bared. As the venom touched his face, his skin bubbled and blistered leaving a scorching mark behind. He yelled in pain but it was not for long; I removed my hand from his arm which had been pinning him down and struck at his throat which ripped open belching his blood over the grass, silencing him. I sunk my teeth into his neck and drained what I could before the wound bled him dry first. I left his body there. My thoughts instantly went to my companions and I rushed to the tallest building I could find. I scaled the wall and perched on the edge, my eyes scanning the town. Just when I thought I could not see them a bright flash caught my attention somewhere to my right. I focused on the area, waiting for another flash to pinpoint their location. The minutes felt like hours but I waited. There! A bright flash indicated my target was close to the woodworker’s shop that had burnt down.

I leapt from the building and the second my feet made contact with the ground, I propelled myself forwards towards the woodworker’s shop. As I neared closer, the sounds of a gurgled cry sounded. I followed the sound and saw Iandu crouched over the dying body of an attacker, the crucifix was a few feet away, in the middle of the street where the attack had begun.

‘What happened?’ I asked. Iandu detached himself from the body and let it fall with a thump as it hit the ground.

‘I began hunting, I tracked this woman as she left a tavern, I followed her down here and as I went in for the kill she turned and this cross glowed bright red and a ball of light fired from it.’ he explained pointing unnecessarily to a large burn on his right shoulder that was the most obvious thing to notice. ‘It got me, what are they?’ He asked.

‘They are followers of God, I believe he has granted these humans the weapons that could kill us. We had ten attack us the other week, we lost some of our fighters to them.’

‘I am sorry to hear that, let us hope we will not be caught so easily off guard the next time.’ He said. ‘Where are the others?’ He added.

I just shook my head to indicate I did not know. Quickly we located Dale, Markus and Riodean who appeared to be have encountered the same situation though they were fortunate enough to avoid the damage. We quickly left the town to as to avoid any other unexpected attacks and soon stood in the garden grateful to be safe once more.

‘Well,’ Started Markus, ‘you can count on the English to provide assistance, it is obvious with those… Things and the angels it is unlikely you will survive the onslaught, then they will come for the rest of us, we must take a stand together, we must unite.’ The others agreed.

‘The Russians will fight beside you my lord,’

‘As will the Americans,’

‘You can count on the Chinese.’

‘My friends, I thank you, if it is our time to die, so be it, I will die amongst friends, but I will not go without taking as many as I can with me.’ I said, swelling with gratitude. For the first time, a little bubble of hope began to creep inside me, maybe this was possible after all.

A familiar fog began to spread through the garden obscuring everything from view except the company in which I stood. Through the swirling fog the form of the elegant and beautiful Lucia appeared. We all dropped to one knee and bowed to the mistress of shadow, the creator of us.

‘Rise my children.’ She spoke her voice soft and other-worldly. ‘I see you have come together to take a stand against our enemy, together there is a chance you will succeed.’ She began to pace in front of us as we stood. ‘These beings that wield the Holy cross, you have encountered them, I see it in your eyes. Iandu, it appears you have suffered at their hands.’ She said and made her way to him. She gazed at his burnt flesh and cupped her hands over it. He look positively alarmed but remained still.

‘Yes, mistress.’ He whispered. Her silvery skin began to glow a deep gold, Iandu flinched. When she removed her hands the wound had gone. ‘Thank you, my lady.’ He said. She inclined her head.

‘Unlike Deus,’ she spat, ‘I care for those who follow me. He keeps to himself, he refuses to make an appearance to anyone, he shows himself to only his angels. He does not care for his creations, he is cruel and ruthless.’ Seeing how much she loathed him, it was hard to imagine they were once lovers. ‘How is Sophia?’ She asked me. Though I was sure she knew the answer to this question, I said,

‘The truth, my lady, is I fear she is not herself. She is becoming distant and I fear for her.’ Lucia nodded carefully.

‘She is afraid, child, she is afraid this is a battle that cannot be won, she knows the power of the angels and fears the war will be lost.’ She said smoothly. Her voice seemed to make it sound alright, that it is ok to lose. ‘She fears the child will not survive.’ She added. As soon as Lucia mentioned the child, I could tell there was no losing this battle, I cannot lose the battle, I cannot lose another child to hands of God. ‘I cannot divine the future that is able to change, you still have a chance to prevail.’ She said

‘Yes my lady, but I also fear, I fear we do not hold enough numbers to withstand the might of both the angels and the cardinals. Even combined, I fear the loss of the battle, if they attack in daylight which they almost certainly will, there just will not enough of us in one place to withstand them all.’ I said.

Lucia looked at me and said,

‘Then be grateful for the support you’re about to receive,’ I puzzled at these words, and by the looks of it so did Iandu, Dale, Markus and Riodean. Before I could inquire further what she meant, the dense fog began to recede, engulfing Lucia and leaving us in the garden once more.

‘I don’t understand,’ said Dale, ‘what did she mean “be grateful for the support you’re about to receive” what support?’ He asked, looking around as if a thousand more vampires were to spring out from the hedgerows any second. I heard footsteps and turned to face the castle and Sophia came out her face bright. She had the look of someone that had just been told they were going to live when all hope seemed lost.

As I opened my mouth to speak, thunder boomed overhead and lighting cracked and lit up the sky like the moon was falling into the clouds. Other than Sophia, we all retreated a few paces and stared disbelievingly at the sky which was becoming brighter but no less loud. The thunder seemed to shake the ground as if a storm was forming right at the tip of the castle’s highest turret. Then something unbelievable happened, the light poured to ground like the brightest patch of moonlight ever seen, it spanned three feet across in a perfect circle, then another one formed not two feet from the first, then another and another. In seconds there were five perfect circles on the grass, brighter than the moon had ever been before. The thunder rumbled once more but this time it was like the thunder was in my ears, I cupped my hands over my ears, as did the others, I went to shout for Sophia who was standing directly behind the light patches but I couldn’t even hear my own voice.

I turned to the others who all wore identical masks of shock. As the thunder became louder, a light as bright as the sun fell from the holes that had formed in the clouds and smashed into the ground, the same thing happened another four times in each of the other patches each one shaking the ground with the impact. The light then disappeared and in the patches of grass where the light had been, now bore five figures of breathtakingly beautiful women each in a kneeling position towards me adorning a bright white dress. Angels, they’re here, I thought. As I withdrew my sword, so did the other lords. But before I could make another move five pairs of bright white, feathery wings fell to the ground beside them and turned to ash once they hit the grass. In unison, the five angels looked up directly at me.

‘We’ve come to fight for you.’ said the angel closest to me whose voice was soft but clear. Sophia strode to the front of the line of angels.

'It appears, the odds have tipped in our favour.’ She said turning to me, beaming.

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