Chapter 5 of the Vampire Lords of Transylvan.
Twenty-nine years ago in Arabiana, the grand palace of Sultan Mulad II…
Pain was his world. Pain and darkness. His screams echoed through the corridors of the dungeons of the grand palace. He did not know how long he was being tortured, kept awake by the constant pain. Pins, slices of flesh, the flies biting at his wounds.
The Sultan’s words were still clear in his head, shouted at him a eternity ago.
“You befouled my concubine!” the Sultan’s face was all rage, red and trembling like a volcano moments from erupting." You married her in secret and put a child in her!“
Vlad was held back by Arabian men, his face bruised and battered. They were in the throne room which oversaw the city below and the sandy plains beyond via large balcony. Vlad saw several carpet riders flew passed in between punches and tirades.
The Sultan was a fat, little man. Old as well, his beard bleached white which was a sharp contrast from his tanned skin. He shook heavily with every word.
Isabella pleaded for mercy, held back by the royal guard.
“I love him, your magnificence!” she shouted.” Please, give him mercy!"
“SILENCE, WOMAN!” he backhanded her which made her fall to the ground. Vlad was inches away from the Sultan after that. Like a snarling beast he broke away from his captors and bite into the Sultan’ nose. Vlad knew little more after that. A blow to the head, Isabella calling his name and the cries of undignified horror and pain in the Sultan’s voice.
When Vlad came to, it was in this prison. He was hanging upside down as men in black hoods poked, prodded and sliced at him. They never spoke or attempted to communicate despite Vlad’s screaming.
It was only after what Vlad thought was a few day when the Sultan’s Vizier came down.
A black and crimson robed man with a pencil thin moustache and a staff shaped like a parrot. Unlike the Sultan, Vlad always respected the Vizier. He taught Vlad during his long years as a ward, about the customs of Arabiana and it’s people. About how water and food could be found even in the hottest of deserts. How to ride a horse, the language of the Arabians and much more. When he entered the room the black hooded men vacated wordlessly.
To hear the sentence come from him was the final twist in the dagger strike in the chest.
“My boy…I am so sorry…” the Vizier looked horrified.
“Is Isabella alright…?” Vlad asked in a croaked voice.
The Vizier looked away." She is imprisoned, like you. But kept alive and unharmed. She will suffer your fate after your child is born. My master is many things when he is angered but he would never harm a child as is dictated in our sacred texts.“
The ward of Transylvan smiled for the first time since the secret marriage in the temple.” Thank the black dragon…" When he started to think his smile faded and tried to look his former tutor in the eye." What is my fate?"
“Death. A slow one. A painful one. You will kept alive by food and water but your flesh will be rend asunder, sliced, pierced and worse by the Black Brothers. Your mind will turn to that of constant pain and suffering. You will be stopped from trying to attempt to take your own life. You will only die when the Sultan wishes it.”
“But when my father finds out, there will be war!” Vlad cried out." The armies of Transylvan will march on the Sultunates!"
“I know, my master has already marshalled his forces to attack first…” the Vizier winced." Was it worth it, my boy? Was the rutting of a woman worth it? Why couldn’t you have chosen a slave girl like the Sultan offered?!“
Pain racked through Vlad’s body as his back spasmed.
“It wasn’t just rutting!” Vlad screamed.” I love Isabella!" It felt good. To scream. Liberating. It was out now." I love how she drinks her jasmine tea, I love how she moves her mouth when she reads a good book, I love how she can corner me in any discussion from politics to when Alundrian swallows migrate." Tears began to form." She deserves more than being a bedslave to an old man…back home she could be a librarian, a scholar, a warrior…"
“And now she will be dead…” the Vizier sighed, pain in his eyes." I am sorry, my boy. So sorry…"
Vlad’s earlier euphoria was completely gone. Both he and Isabella would be dead. It might take days, weeks, months…maybe even years. But death would come for them. Separate.
“Why tell me this…?” Vlad asked.
The Vizier moved to the captured young man. He took out a piece of white cloth and dabbed some of the blood away from Vlad’s face.
“You deserve to know what is happening, that you do not die completely ignorant…and when your child is born, I will take care of it.” A sad smiled appeared on the Vizier’s lips." It’s all I can do."
He felt defeated, at the mercy of a higher being.
“Face your death with your chin held high, Vlad Drakul…” the vizier kissed the boy on his forehead. He turned and moved as the Black Brothers came back. As did the constant pain.
The pain was his world now. It was all he felt. His eyes were constantly shut now for when he opened them the pain would stop his heart. His mind sometimes went back to his childhood. To the dark forests of Transylvan. The dark trees with bone white owls, a thousand eyes on him but he was not afraid. The ghosts that roamed those woods were his friends, to all Drakuls. His father, a pale gentlemen in black noble attire, sending him off on a black carriage to Arabiana. The Vizier’ lessons…and the first time he met Isabella. The first shy words. The first time he snuck up the onion domed tower to see her. The first time he made love to her. The secret excursions out of the palace into the city. The priest blessing them in the temple…the promise he made.
"I will always come back for you. No matter what heaven or hell that stands between us."
And then the pain came back in full. It always did.
When the pain stopped, there was screaming. It wasn’t his own screaming. He heard howling, flesh tearing open. His world turned upside down, he threw up, everything felt wrong. He didn’t hear the voices speaking to him, not at first. But they sounded soothing, kind. A cold flask was given in his hand. Vlad greedily drank it. Water, ice cold water. Freedom never tasted so sweet.
“Are you alright, son?” the same voice as before asked.
For the first time in a small eternity, Vlad opened his eyes…and rested them on his father.
It must’ve been over a decade since he last saw his sire, but he looked exactly the same. A handsome face in black armour with a flowing red cape that rested on a blood covered floor.
“Father…” Vlad spoke in a weak voice.
“Count Tapesh.” Another knight in black spoke. It sounded female behind the black visor shaped like a dragon."" We cannot stay here, the royal guard will be upon us with silver.“
Two more black knights were with his father along with several large wolves on hind legs who were feasting on the Black Brothers, pieces of bloody intestines and gore that fell on the ground.
“We move him now, he dies.” the other knight resumed feeding from the dead man he held up with his arm, blood running from his lips to the ground like a man drinking to much from a overfull cup.” His heart is already stopping.“
The female knight wiped her sword on the banner of the Sultan’s sigil.” Then we can raise him. But for that we need to be outside of the city first."
“Agreed, we must move.” The Count replied and lifted his son up. The ward felt cold air rushing passed him, chilling him. He saw swords flashing, men crying, women screaming, wolves howling and mauling. Movement came by to fast, the cold dungeons making way to palace grounds however briefly before the cold black sky with it’s many stars greeted him.
Vlad tried to struggle." Isa…Isabel…" he tried to speak.
“We know of her, we will return.” the count replied. And that was all Vlad knew before his mortal eyes closed forevermore.
The next time they opened, it were the eyes of one of the undead. Those of a Lord of Transylvan. A vampire.
Lowervail on the isle of Oasis, Alundria. Now.
The orc slaver tried to show he was not nervous by holding his arms behind his back, but Vlad heard his heartbeat pounding loudly in his chest. It was best he was, his life depended on this.
A large vat of warm blood stood in front of them which made the room smell like metal. The orc’s necromancer muttered her spells and whittled her Blight potion in the red stroppy liquid.
Thirty young maidens were sacrificed thirty minutes previous to fill the vat. Thirty lives stopped in their prime for an experiment. The screams would horrify his mortal servants like the orc slavemaster and the Alundrian conscripts until their deathbeds. Even now their corpses were thrown outside to feed the bats and wolves.
But it was worth it for just one moment, one chance to have his wife back. Just long enough to get to the Citadel and find a permanent cure for her bloodlust.
When she stirred from the depths of the vat, she emerged like a blood soaked goddess. The Count smiled as his wife levitated from the blood bath enriched by Blight magic. The necromancer moved away as a smile danced on her lips, pleased with her work. Vlad did not care about that, only about his beautiful wife. She was naked as the day she was born and the mortal servants averted their gaze. A few however could not help but stare. A mix of awe and horror on their faces.
Isabella, his Arabian wife, smiled as she landed on the ground and moved to hold her husband as blood trailed beneath her.
“Are you well, my love?” Vlad asked.
“Never better.” She smiled." Even more so than any mana pool."
The count wiped some blood from her cheek before he kissed his wife deeply, a kiss she returned eagerly.
Elvira walked up to the two with a black robe with the black sun sigil and waited until Isabella took the robe and helped her dress.
The Necromancer, Lucy Koning, stood with the Orc Slavemaster. Both awaited the verdict.
Vlad turned to Isabella who gave a wicked grin. Without a word both knew what the other meant. He kissed his wife’s hand as he stood by her side.
“Gorvar, Lady Koning…you both have served Transylvan very well today.” Isabella Drakul spoke." You are both given your lives and more."
“You may have the Orc settlements who submitted to us, Lord Gorvar.” Vlad spoke." And you, Lucy Koning, may be taught Transylvan necromancy by our top Necromancers as we march to Alundria.“
The necromancer and Orc alike bowed deeply.
“Now leave us, we have business to conduct.” Isabella waved them away.
“Thank you, my lady.” Gorvar bowed his head to her.” My lord." To Count Vlad before he left, Lucy giving a curt nod in turn before she followed the orc outside.
They waited until the door was shut behind them before they spoke." They have kept their word." Elvira spoke." And I sense no deception in that blood ritual."
“There is none.” Isabella confided." The necromancer has cursed me of the blood lust. I haven’t felt this good since my heart last beat."
“I am glad, my love.” Vlad smiled." And the orc’s information is correct as well. Our ships have found Bucktooth bay and our way on the continent. From there…we can march on to the Citadel and rid you off your bloodlust forever."
“Still…” Elvira cautioned." We should keep an eye on that orc and that necromancer. They were all to eager to betray their Alundrian kin…“
Isabella raised her brow.” A slaver of the line of Gorvar the Dragonrider and a Necromancer of the Undying who unleash the Blight on her own people? If anything I would be surprised if they sided with Thorondil when our ships arrived on these shores."
“I hate to disagree with you, my love…” Vlad interjected." But Elvira has a point. We’ll keep an eye on them…just to be on the safe side." He offered his arm to his wife who took it with a smile." But tonight we feast. Come, we have several elven prisoners. Their blood tastes like magic itself.“
A wicked grin danced on Isabella’s lips, her tongue licking them.” Perfect." She purred.
“What have you made me do?” Lucy snarled at Gorvar when in private. She poured herself a glass of red wine and downed it all. Gorvar reached out his hand to the wine bottle. Before his green fingers could snatch the bottle, Lady Koning took it away.
“We are in their favour now.” he sighed wearily." If we want to make a few omelette’s we have to break some eggs."
“Thirty young women, Gorvar.” she glared.
The orc glared." Don’t you get sanctimonious with me, Lady Lucy. Your people infect water supplies and bring the Blight. You kill whole families! If anything this must be any normal Tuesday for you."
“Not just that.” she replied." The drug you had me add in there, to supress the bloodlust…it’s the complete opposite." She took another drink." Have you seen that look in her eyes when she emerged? The rage behind it? The power? I just poked a sharp stick into a sleeping bear."
The orc slavemaster paused before he spoke." I know. But if that means we can keep the bear looking into the direction we want it to look, it is worth it.“
Lucy’s fingers danced on the glass.” The Citadel isn’t the direction, is it?"
“For Vlad, maybe…but for her, for the other lords…I think it is like that legend you told me.” he shifted to sit up in his chair." It’s a homecoming, a bloody reminder. A vengeance for exiling a whole kingdom for necromancy…“
Both their eyes darted to the map on the table. " And it all starts in Bucktooth bay…”
Bucktooth bay, Alundria.
The black sails arrived in the dead of night and took the village without warning.
The city guard put up a fight, however breath. Von Karn himself, angered by the demotion of being send to occupy a single fishing village instead of leading the main assault on Poet’s Crown.
Worst of all the creature that led the main assault was only just newly risen! A newblood who had the honour of leading a main assault! The vampire grumbled as the train of newly acquired slaves moved towards the beach of the black ships. He ignored their sobbing and curses as his undead warriors pushed them onward, his servant keeping a tally on his scroll.
“The gall!” Von Karn complained to his aide, the half-human creature called Igon.
“My lord?” Igon snapped to attention, his counting forgotten.
“I was there when we saved that boy from that Sultan! In a way, I saved his life! And how does he repay me after ONE failure?!” he poured himself in a cup of bloodwine. He drank the bloodwine deeply but stopped halfway as his eyes frowned at Igon.
The creature jumped." Oh…how, my lord?"
“By sending me here to the sticks!” he slapped his servant on the head." Don’t keep me waiting next time!"
“No my lord…” Igon grovelled.
“For the love of the black dragon…” Von Karn growled some more and poured himself a new drink. As he drank he spotted a new prey. She was smaller than the humans of the village, dressed in bright blue with a red hat. Still quite stocky yet refined in a way. Her auburn hair and eyes unleashed a desire in the vampire lord.
“Igon, what is that creature over there?“
Igon looked up from his tallying.” …that slave over there, my lord?”
“For the love of the night, YES! What else?!” Von Karn smacked his servant again.
“A gnome, my lord!” he cried." She’s a trader from the village further southwest!"
“A gnome…never had one of those before.” he stood up." Igon, you lead the rest of these proceedings. I’ll have my fun." With that he moved despite Igon’s confused protestations.
Von Karn enjoyed the gnome woman. He had mated and drank from many other species across Arabiana but the new smell, taste and feel of the gnome reinvigorated him. This was his first proper mainland Alundrian claim, his first meal as it were. So he took his time with her, after all his mind control powers weren’t limited on a small minded creature such as her. Small, he chuckled at the pun in between kisses and grunts. There was knocking on the door and he heard his servant meekly muttering but Von Karn did not care and in fact increased the strength and speed of his lovemaking to mute the noise outside. The gnome’s cries of passion must’ve been enough to scare the fool away as it stopped soon afterward.
Her moans echoed with each thud in the small home that once was the house of the mayor. His bed was the comfiest of the village, made out of straw but still it did it’s duty. Both his and her clothing lay discarded on the floor as well as a empty bottle of bloodwine. He let her be on top, it gave them the illusion of power before he reached his crescendo. He always allowed his lovers a moment of pleasure themselves…before he drank his fill from their blood. He had done it before with an elf on Oasis before that dreaded attack on that orc village and numerous Arabians and Van Xians alike. Vampires did not sire children so he never worried about offspring and all of his bed mates ended up dead by morning, food for the wolves. But the night before he gave them the night of their lives, full of passion and vigour.
So it was to his surprise when his crescendo came and he wanted to drain her blood, blood was already on his face. A arrowhead was inches from his face, the arrow along with a few more punched through the gnome’s back and chest.
He tossed his dead lover aside, a soft gasp of death from her lungs, as several figures jumped in the room.
The vampire lord managed to get to his sword and sliced one of his assailants dead.
“YOU SPOILED MY MEAL, PEASANTS!” he cried. The figures moved quickly and were very lithe. When he noticed the pointy ears he knew for certain what he was facing. Elves.
More elves poured in, daggers and eyes gleaming white in the sky. Von Karn made the brave choice…of running away.
He jumped through the window and ran to the nearest of his warriors. The confused skeleton was pushed towards an incoming elf as Von Karn made his way to a more…tactical location.
He found his servant hiding behind a table as the chaos around them manifested. The elves did not come alone. Gunfire rained from above and punched through the skeletons as if they were made out of clay. In the darkness one who was not blessed by the night would not have seen the dwarven blunderbusses.
The human slaves were freed and took up the weapons from the dead and joined their saviours into the fray. Already most of his skeletal forces were destroyed and more elves rushed from out of the forest.
“IGON!” Von Karn picked up his servant by the scruff of his neck." This is your fault!"
“I tried to warn you my lord, but you never answered the door!” Igon cried.
Incompetents, everywhere! With a snarl he tossed the half-creature to the ground and mounted the nearest horse.
“My lord-!” Igon tried to warn but Von Karn did not listen.
“You fight your own battles, I’ll fight mine another day!” He replied and left the village and his men to burn for their incompetence. It was only half a minute later when he realized Igon’s warning was not to keep fighting…but to put some trousers on. He considered once to turn around and take the trousers his servant was holding as he to ran from the village. But a few arrows that headed his way made the choice for him as he made his undignified escape.
An elf closed the gnome’s eyes as she muttered prayers.
“May the spirits of the forest take your soul home, sister. Your death will be remembered and avenged.” the she-elf said.
The others in the room muttered in agreement, among them an older elven male. He was dressed in a long green cloak and tunic, a long golden crown on his head, his eyes full of wisdom and sorrow.
“Do we know her name?” the old elf asked.
“Irvina of the Mushroom Leapers, only a maiden.” the she-elf replied." She is…was a trader. She gave gnomish steel for fresh fish to feed her clan.“
He nodded sadly at this.” Clean her wounds and bring her to her clan…do not mention how she came to her end or how we found her. Tell them she died in battle…she deserved a better end than being a monster’s plaything.“
The she-elf bowed.” Yes my king…" As she ran off another elf came in.
"Your majesty! The dwarves and the humans want to push onwards to Poet’s Crown!"
The elf king made sure the body was covered up respectfully before he spoke.“Then we shall. Tell them to gather their forces. And that King Halmadir will lead the way.”