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The Threeby Ohad Shaham
Igorov Tower, Boldavia, principalities of Glantri.
"Tell me more, pawn!"
Screamed the usually quiet dark prince.
"I have travelled long master, and I am in dire need of mortal soul power to feed upon, I beg the almighty one for a drop of spirit!" the transparent wraith looked almost non existent.
"No! you insignificant creation! I can destroy you and send you to the pits for your impudence! You will not be nourished until you finish your story. I need to know exactly who they are, what are they capable of, and where can I find them."
"Master, as I told you they are not at all as powerful as you are... they do not have the great arcane powers of wizardry, nor are they touched by the dark hand of the Roaring One."
"That is besides the point! I have heard about the ceremony that can create a Bride and Groom vampires, but never have I heard of three, and never have I heard of vampires that hold these powers they have." The baron of Igorov never looked so upset. The undead spirit did not know what to make of this new state of mind in his master.
"Maybe like you, sire, they are in favour of a power from beyond?"
"What did you say?!" the prince's echoing voice boomed through the hall.
"I meant, what if those three younglings are under the protection of some demon or god? That could have given them their unique powers..."
Morphail seemed puzzled, his preciously burning eyes have gone into a state of contemplation. Without a thought the powerful Nosferatu moved his left hand toward the middle keyboard of the great organ. With but a few notes, the wraith felt as if he fed upon the spirits of a dozen lives, sweet innocent lives. With the white glow back in his body, the wraith was about to depart from the hall. "Wait. I need you to bring me one of my spell books. The one about ancient Taraldaran magic. And also heat up the Teleportation chamber. Tell Slavykiov and send a message to Boris about my departure." As the wraith gladly departed for his assignments, Morphail has begun casting divinative and protective spells.
The young huntress was ready as she will ever be. The waters around Kuir were very warm this time of year and the waves felt so pleasant as they rose against her legs.
Tenaria's mother was Nuari, but she herself has never been to the Pearl Islands. She gave a last look at her equipment and at her companions. To her left, the dark haired Kerendan youth she loved so much, and to her left- the blonde youth she had loved just the same. Was it so wrong to love them both?
Tenaria chased away these thoughts from her mind. The hunt required her full concentration. With a nod of his head, the Ostlander youth has indicated it is time. Tenaria and her two lovers, her two soul mates, drank the dark thick fluid from their sea shells.
The taste was like that of rotten fish, and Tenaria felt her intestines rising and wanted to vomit. Dario, the tanned muscly Kerendan smiled to her in understanding. He has drank this fluid before. With his smile Tenaria lost all nausea and fear. The three slowly sank into the warm waters, the stones tide to their feet preventing them from floating. Slowly but surely, the dark skinned maiden sank into the waves. Sharp shells and corals threatened to wound her unprotected feet. She held firmly the sharp trident in her left hand. The creature she was looking for was not easily defeated nor easily destroyed. She was as experienced as a girl of that innocent age could be, but still felt the weakening fear of danger. Her companions gave her strength and courage, and maybe she has given them the same. Tenaria took the first breath of water in. Salty warm water gushed into her mouth and straight into her lungs. The shock of the water was painful and alarming. It took her a few seconds to calm herself down.
Open your eyes Tenaria. The Velya are not easy hunting.
-Look into my eyes, innkeeper
-But sire, we are not supposed to converse with nobles like that...
-LOOK AT THEM!!!!
-Oh, of course sire. Is the meal to your liking? You haven't touched it.
-I will feed later. The three young adventurers that sat here before. Do you know their names?
-Well sire, they were once pretty famous in these parts. It is said they have crossed the border to the dark forests of Taraldara, beyond the Vyalia elven lands. Are you from there sire? Your accent...
-Yes I am from there originally. What have they crossed the border for?
-The farmers of these parts speak of dark creatures in those woods, that feed on the blood of the living.
-And those three, what have they to do with such creatures?
-This is quite funny, milord. The farmers believe that they are heroes who go and hunt down the dark demons.
-And you do not believe those stories.
-Oh sire, if I had a lucin for every time I have heard of an adventuring party defeating some demon, I would run for the senate. I don't think they even are any such creatures. They probably killed some goblins or something.
-Oh really? So there has never been vam.. hmm demons running around in your home town?"
-Not that I know off.. the Immortals keep us safe from any such threats if they exist.
-Interesting. So, you do not have their names?
-Oh I do sir. The local boy is Dario Pentius, the Norse one is Erik something, and the beautiful black lady is Tenaria. No last names for the Nuari. It is a real melting pot our country! Those three never leave each others company!
-Yes I am sure they do not. Have you any idea where I they going from here?
-Why yes sire. They have plans of living the country for the highlands. Business they say.
-Is that so?! Well someone needs to teach those whelps some respect.
-Yes milord. But it is late. All of the other guests have departed to their chambers. Do you want me to fix you a room?
Open your shirt collar.
What for, sire?
No.. please ..
"The Second coming of Tarastia" temple, Jullinius, Thyatis.
"Oh noble patriarch, what must we do? those youths may corrupt our flock! They are living in sin, doing the deeds found only in the Pits!"
"I think you are exaggerating, my dear Tentos. They are fine young Thyatians, who just love each other very much. The hardship of their life has brought them close together, maybe too close. But they will grow up, see the error of their ways and settle down."
"But father! They are not only good friends! The people say that they are practicing the pleasure of the flesh! As if they were a married couple. Surely the immortals see this as blasphemy. It is an abomination to the ways of the immortals and the empire!"
"Come down Tentos, the immortals have never been clear on the ways of love. True the secular law is against such deviations, but it is not our position to enforce the laws of the senate."
"My father I implore you, the people want action! Those sins are like cancer in the land. The church will lose its power with the citizens if nothing is done."
"What you have in mind, Tentos?"
"Well, we should drive them out of town! We can run them off to somewhere else!"
"But we need them, my son. No one have ever 'hunted' as well as they do. Besides, I am afraid violence might occur."
"The fiends that used to plague our empire are long gone, father. That is a known fact. Let me gather some honest strong men and it will be over in a few hours."
"I have to consult with the 'The Judge' (=Tarastia O.Sh). Promise me you will not take action for at least three days."
"Yes father, may the wise one tell us her ways."
The catacombs below the cemetery of Jullinius, Thyatis
The three young hunters have opened the rusting iron door. Much dust have accumulated on this door and cob web was hanging around it.
"There is no way he is using this opening to leave the tomb" said Dario, cleaning his silvery sword from the com web that clung to it.
Erik looked at his companion and lover in agreement. "No. And that means he has another way out, which now can be used as a means of escape."
"But he does not know we are coming" said Tenaria, "it is midday, he is probably in his coffin".
"We can not be sure of that. Remember the group on Tel Akbir? They knew we were coming even though it was noon. This one may have the same power". Erik always was the voice of reason for the group. Tenaria touched his shoulder with her left hand. The right hand clutched firmly the wooden stake she always held in such hunts. Her job was to drive the stake throw the creatures heart. Most of the times she has done it using only her physical strength. Sometimes she had to use a mallet. The men's job was to hold the creature down in his coffin, or to try and destroy it with their weapons if something goes wrong.
Erik didn't use a sword. The Norse warrior had a golden battle axe inherited from his father, who was a great Jarl. Erik came to Thyatis as part of a hired guard of the Emperor. After meeting with Dario Pentius, he decided to leave the force, as the Norseman would not see their relationship with understanding.
The group entered the burial chamber. The coffin was made of stone, and was exactly in the middle of the room. Dario signalled to the others to proceed. Erik moved his fingers on the side of the coffin "it will be to heavy for me alone, stand on the other side and we will lift together. "Are you fine with this, Tenaria?" asked Dario. Tenaria made a rude gesture toward Dario. If she didn't love him so much, she would have showed him not to think lowly of her. She can take on a vampire alone for a few seconds.
Dario smiled with all the innocence of a child and Erik choked a laugh. They knew each other so well. Too well in some folks opinion. "On three" whispered Dario. Erik and Dario throw the lid open, and grabbed the hands. In that instant Tenaria jumped into the coffin and struck a precise blow to the creatures heart, screaming a Nuari battle cry.
Just a heartbeat later, Tenaria's voice screamed in horror "It is a dead body!!!! WE WERE TRICKED!!!!"
The words were shadowed by the horrid sound of metal slashing through flesh. A dark human figure was flying above the three hunters and his sickle cut of part of Erik's arm, living a horrible bleeding stump. Screaming, Dario tried to slash his sword through the creature. But the diabolical being was fast. Faster than the hunters have ever seen. The fiend throw a horrible kick at Tenaria, throwing her to the ground, than turning on the men, he slashed fast and hard through the small room. Erik tried to attack with his two handed axe, holding it with his left hand. The attack failed and the vampire took a horrible bite at his neck. Dario saw the razor sharp fangs cutting through his fair beloved's throat. Laughing as he left the Norse young man on the ground to bleed, he charged at Dario, cutting his abdomen with the bloody sickle. Dario lost his conciseness on the cold floor of the grave.
Tenaria could not move. She breathed extremely fast but received no relief from the air, as if she was choking. She saw the creature turn around to look at her. The creature moved his eyes up and down Tenaria's body. The ancient vampire saw many women in his unlife. His immortal eyes saw every delicate feature of this wonderful specimen of humankind. Tenaria looked perfect. Even now when she was terrified and covered with blood and dust, her dark skin and beautiful features were prominent. The thoughts ran through the creatures foul evil mind.
"Are you scared my dear? You should be. As I am going to kill you soon and drink your blood. Look into my eyes child. There, isn't it better now?"
Tenaria held tightly to the small cheap looking amulet tied around her neck. Than she stared straight into the creatures eyes and opened hers widely.
"Do not worry about your friends, child. They will rise as my slaves in three days time. But you. You are enchanting. You are worthy, I can make you my immortal bride." The creature touched Tenaria's left breast. She did not budge. "You will liked that wouldn't you? You will be as one with me. You will feel what I feel and see what I see. These are things more wonderful than you can imagine. You will be my equal, not like those two" the vampire gestured with his hand to the dying men. Tenaria turned and stared at their dyeing, beautiful bodies.
"But you must want it to happen my dear. Do you want it to happen?"
"Tell me how it is done" she whispered.
Streets of the Blocks district, Thyatis city, Thyatis.
"Follow me, men! We are almost there. The three sinners live their blasphemous lives in that house near the temple. Light up the torches!" Tentos' eyes glistened as he led the people through the filthy streets. This is what being a priest is all about. Tarastia demands justice, and I will be her vessel in achieving it. Their way of life is an abomination to the laws of Tarots and the empire. The patriarch will be proud of me. Look at how I rallied all of the people. The patriarch never gets so much people to come to the temple, even on special holidays. After we will have justice with those animals, he will see I was right. Look at my people! United, strong, walking through the night without fear in their heart.
"Ah sir," Tentos' thoughts were interrupted by a young fisherman holding a torch and a trident, "isn't this place awfully close to the temple? We might wake up the priests who live here. Who's temple is this anyway?". "How should I know!?" Tantos snapped. "I never been to the capital before, and besides there is no way we will wake up anyone. The criminals will surrender to us and be brought to religious trial in Jullinius. Fine, we are here. Break down the doors!!!"
Two of the strongest towns people tore the wooden doors open, and people started poring into the small house. The room was a simple one, containing a small table with maps and scrolls stacked upon it, skulls and other sinister looking artifacts were organized on shelves. There was no sign of the three young hunters. "Up hear Tentos!" the town's blacksmith shouted from the second floor. Tentos ran up the stairs. The upper room contained a large bed and little furniture. The window was open. "They must have jumped!" Tentos yelled in rage, "hurry, to the street! Don't let them get away".
Minutes later, the three hunters were cornered in a filthy alley. "You will soon pay for your sins in the eye of the immortals!" Tentos called, ecstatic as his destiny was about to be fulfilled.
Dario looked to Tenaira, as if he was asking 'do we fight or flee?'. Both options had the same consequences. The people will learn about their vampirism, and one way or another they will find and destroy them. Tenaira gave him a sad glance in return. Erik looked up, to find if there is somehow to escape without transforming.
Suddenly, a loud gong was heard in the alley. The townsmen looked back, holding up their weapons.
A group of 5 priests clad in pure white robes passed through the crowd, finally standing in between the three and the posse. All was silent as the middle priest, a woman, took down her hood and spoke.
"Live this place in peace. We do not want violence this night." The priestess voice was soft though full of authority.
"Stand back! you are interrupting the proceedings of justice! These three are dangerous criminals who have sinned in Tarastia's eye!" Tantos was not going to let this unexpected turn of events to ruin his plans.
"Tarastia, mistress of justice and revenge and you know that, Tentos. Leave now and, your patriarch in Jullinius will not hear of what has transpired tonight."
"Who is this insolent woman?!" Tantos was furious. "Sir! this is Jenfavia, father. The high priestess of Valerias!". Tentos, grew worried. Why didn't they tell him that, before he spoke? never mind, even she could not stop him now.
"I am sorry, Matriarch. But these three criminals must be put on trial and punished. Their ways are an insult to the way of Thyatis and the immortals. If you please stand back, as we collect them. Peacefully."
"You will do no such thing!" the priestess' voice grew to a shout. "Stand back. All of you. Valerias, Girder of Weapons is taking these three under her custody!" Fenvaria's holly symbol, a rose shaped golden medallion began to glow with a strong red light, within a few seconds the light engulfed all of the priests, and the three vampire hunters. Some of the townsfolk fell to their knees, fearing the priestess wrath.
"What are you doing! Get up!" Tentos saw he was left with only about half of his supporters, but he was going to give up. Not when he was so close.
"What is this? A high priestess in Thyatis, defending these scum, practicing unholy relations? Is that what the church of Valerias has become? What is it that you do in your temple, priestess? In those nightly dances around the fire? Your faith has been tainted. The Reaper has infiltrated the church of Valerias! Attack my loyal kinsmen, attack!!!
Chaos and confusion filled the alley. The four junior clerics circled around the high priestess, protecting her from the angry, fanatic mob. But Tantos led the attack against the youngsters he hated so much. The priestess can be handled later.
But as he looked to where the three stood, he saw only darkness. Than, in a fanatical rage he ran into the ring of clerics. Holding up a curved knife he passed the male priest and struck a blow against the high priestess.
Drops of blood fell from Jenfavia's shoulder to the ground. The high priestess of Valerias stared at her attacker with a sad eye.
Tantos began screaming. Heat began to spread throughout his body, blisters appeared on his skin. Jenfavia held her shoulder with pain, saying a prayer for Tantos' soul. But it was too late. Tantos ran from man to man yelling "help me!!" as his body combusted and burned for what seemed like hours. Tantos' screams silenced into a horrible snore, as he was burned to a crisp.
The remaining townsfolk fell on the ground and begged the priestess for forgiveness.
But the priestess and her clerics left the alley, walking toward their temple.
A few blocks from there, the three young hunters materialised from the mist. "Do you think they saw us changing?" asked Tenaira. "I don't think so" answered Erik, "it was to dark to chaotic".
"Hey Erik", interrupted Dario "you have something on your shoulder". "Hey what is that?"
"We all have those" said Tenaira, lifting up her sleeve.
A tattoo of a red rose.
Ratling Undercity, Thyatis city, Empire of Thyatis
Morphail hated nothing more than doing what he was doing now. In thirty years of life and ten times as long as an undead, Morphail has always grew in power. Remembering now his years as a young wizard, learning the basics of magic use from his parents, made a smile creep to his lips. By now he is one of the greatest wizards on the planet. Master of necromancy, and the most powerful vampire in the known world for as much as he knows. But festering in his undying mind was the fact that there are greater beings from him. Like most arch mages of Glantri he was very aware to the existence of the Immortals. The population of Glantri has only recently began to understand these omnipotent beings, to the council's dismay. Yes, Morphail has known much about the Immortals. Especially one of them, to an intimate level.
That infuriated the dark prince. The demon who tricked him, who robbed him of his deserved status, was now his master for eternity.
But Morphail felt the bond weakening through the years. Slowly but surely he was almost certain that he could break away from the control of Alphaks, the Roaring Demon.
Was the bond really beginning to deteriorate or was it Alphaks testing him, that Morphail could not know. In the last century he only connected Alphaks once, and that was during the great war. Morphail did not anticipate a need for contact will rise again so soon.
'Blast it! Always think ahead!' that was the way Morphail kept his power for centuries. Always planning, always patient. This is why he must know more. But in this case he can not wait to long. When it comes to others of his own kind, time may not be on his side. Vampires are relatively weak when they are created. It will be much harder to destroy them in the future, or better yet- taking them over.
Without a thought he grabbed the ratling infant with his left hand and slit his throat with a small dagger. Lowering the ratling body to the ground, Morphail started to paint a pentagram with the creatures blood.
Discarding the body to the side of the room, the wizard prince took 5 black candles out of a sack. These candles were made from the fat of shadow elves, and produced a weird green flame.
Even though Morphail could have lit the candles with a mere thought, he used a small stick which he lighted from his torch. The ancient laws demanded no magic will be cast during the ceremony.
Then it was time for the sacrifice. This was the easy part for Morphail. Cutting his wrist with the dagger, a gush of blood, cold and dark, dripped to the floor at the centre of the pentagram. As his wounds quickly healed, Morphail said the dark incantation that will call his masters attention. Morphail spewed the words out as if cursing at the Roaring Demon. A single mistake in the chant would have ruined the ceremony, weakening Morphail greatly. But the dark prince does not make mistakes. Not a single one since the greatest mistake of all- trusting the one he was now trying to contact.
Suddenly, the pentagram burst into a black fire. A huge winged humanoid figure appeared, holding a triple whip in one hand and a huge flaming sword in the other. Even though Morphail new that this not the real incarnation of his despised master, Morphail took a step back.
"Ssso sssoon, my sssson? I thought it would be agesssss until you will sssssommon my attentttion again. Another war issss it? One of a more, mortal nature?"
"No. I would not bother his demonship with such trifles." while Morphail's words showed respect, his eyes were unquestionably transmitting pure hatred.
The Demon ignored that.
"Than what could I do for my mosssst trusssted sssservent? What knowledge do you ssseek?
"There are new ones of my kind who have shown strange affiliations. There powers are nothing now, but I am afraid they are enjoying a powerful protector. Non of the fiends I have questioned know of this. But these three fledglings are dangerous. They have not stopped preying on my kind even after their transformation. They are planning to go to the highlands soon, which means they know. If it wasn't for the supernatural protection that hangs over them I would have eliminated them in an instant. But as they are now, they could pose a threat to everything I built!"
"You?!! You built? Remember that if it wasssn't for me, you were a rotting corpse! Everything you 'build' you awe to me!!!"
"Forgiveness my liege. The Three are threatening to destroy what WE have built in northern Glantri. I need to know who is protecting them so I could have tools to destroy them in time." Cursed snake! One day I will become immortal, true immortal. And than I will show you who's a rotting corpse.
Reading the vampires thought's, Alphaks was amused.
"You have my forgivenesss, beloved sssson. The triumph of the lasst war has made me a forgiving deity.
I will tell you who isss protecting the three bassstard vampiresss."
"Tell me oh evil one".
"The Rossse in our field of thornsss. The one who callsss herssself godessss of Love and passion. The lover of the sssun princsse and the girder on of weaponssss. Unwittingly, through a promissse to her high priesstesss ssshe hass thrown her protection over the huntersss"
"But she is an ultimate, is she not? Her powers surpass even yours-"
"SSSSSILENCE!!! How dare you! You will pay for your inssolencsse!"
Morphail was abruptly teleported hundreds of miles from where he was, to the scorching Alaysian desert. The high noon sun pierced through his defences, burning at his undead soul. The pain was impossible for a mortal to comprehend.
With great effort Morphail has turned into a bat and flew almost totally blind, toward a small palm tree. Under the relative shade he turned into his wolf form, and started digging a sanctuary for the next hours.
One of these days, Alphaks. One of these days.