Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Vampiretwilight
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Edward nodded.
"Of course, father."
He acted like a gentleman towards the princess. He was soon escorting Emily out of the room. Emily followed willingly. She was glad to be away from her father for a time.
The king narrowed his eyes as they left.

A parrot belonging to a spy for hire saw everything. It flew to its' master to say what it saw. The spy smirked. He knew someone who'd value this information. He sent the part to a certain baron to tell him the news.
(This is currently an NPC)
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by The Wyrm
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Solomon was whistling quietly to himself as he worked away in the empty shell of a house that fronted on the main avenue that ran through the city. There were other roads of course but this one ran directly out from the castle and was the only one large enough to accomodate the vampires carriages for the first block or two. It made completely probable then, that at some point, this Prince Edward would travel along its length.

The house Solomon now sat in, along save for his thoughts and a large leather square covered in various tools, lit by four heavily shielded lanterns, was of heavy stone. It would take an earthquake to bring the building down. Thankfully, Solomon knew something about making an earthquake. Not an actual earth movement mind you, but he knew how to make gunpowder and so here he was building an explosive device that would essentially blow the front of the house onto anything passing by. It was a tediously exact science and one that often killed its own maker.

He had been making the black powder in the home of his mistress and it was so unknown here in these hell shaped lands that no one, not even she, thought to question what he was doing. The small package he had obtained a day or two previously had been the final touches, bought from a merchant who clearly had no idea what he was carrying. Only exposing the "Wonders of a burning and sparking snake". Idiot. He had been worried he would have to make his own fuses but some enterprising fool had saved him the trouble.

The house was empty save for his workstation and a bedroll in one corner that held his pack, food for several days, and a very comfy blanket and pillow he had taken from his mistress. No doubt she would not require them now that she was nothing but dust. He had taken the stake he had used to kill her before he slaughtered the servants. Not that it had been difficult. Most had been old and the younger ones were all hobbled so they could not flee far. Means to an end, and he did not need his identity to be revealed by anyone until his work was done.

He carefully began to pour the black powder into a ceramic jar he had purchased, one of a half dozen. He would stack extra stones around them when they were ready to try and direct the blast outward. Much of the force of the explosion would be lost in the empty house but there would be sufficient to send the entire facade of the house flying across the street, blasting the carriage off of its wheels, killing any human guards. He would be on hand of course to finish off Edward, just as he had the miserable brother.

His gaze drifted to a pair of small plain wooden boxes. Each looked large enough to hold a big apple. But inside them were his most valuable weapons and he hoped he would not have to use them. They would be the ideal tool for killing the Vampire King. Nothing, no beast of evil, no undead dragon, could survive such a weapon and only a select few existed.

He smiled to himself. His time would come. They would all die. Even Ulrek.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by ZAVAZggg
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Edward nodded.
"Of course, father."
He acted like a gentleman towards the princess. He was soon escorting Emily out of the room. Emily followed willingly. She was glad to be away from her father for a time.
The king narrowed his eyes as they left.

A parrot belonging to a spy for hire saw everything. It flew to its' master to say what it saw. The spy smirked. He knew someone who'd value this information. He sent the part to a certain baron to tell him the news.
(This is currently an NPC)


"Now that this matter has been settled to everyone's satisfaction, allow me to give you the use of the castles guest wing. You do not need to worry about safety, I will make sure everyone here remembers their place." Zachaeus said, his voice dropping to a low menacing tone at that last part as he slowly shifted his gaze around the room making sure that all present, vampire or otherwise, knew the foreign king was not to be harmed.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Vampiretwilight
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The king simply nodded.
(credit:Kyo kara maoh)

"Very well."
He narrowed his eyes at the servants. Inside his head, he was smirking while thinking about something. The prince, Edward, and his daughter had seemed to take a shine to each other. It gave the king hope that he'd he able to marry his daughter off to a powerful family. It would create the strong political alliance that he sought, as well as to ensure the safety of his kingdom. The future was starting to look bright.

He didn't see any dark clouds ahead.

Edward and Emily were walking down the halls. The vampire prince had already shown the human princess some portraits and armor. He told her stories. She listened closely and with interest.

Emily could not help but smile a little bit. She was away from her father, if only for a time. At least she had a little bit of freedom, she thought. She glanced at Edward.

Edward looked at her. He gave her a smile of his own. He asked her if there was anything that she always wanted to see.

"Are there any gardens here?"
Emily loved gardens, especially flower gardens. Edward nodded.

"Yes, in fact, there is one."
Edward offered her his hand and took her to see it. He acted ever the gentleman.
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Zachaeus got up from his throne and walked back to his chambers, his shadow creating a pitch black void in the sunlit hall behind him. Upon arriving in his chambers he shut and locked the door before walking over to the unlit fireplace that was in his room. He let his eyes linger on Bloodline, which hung on the mantle, before going over to his bed. After making sure that no curtains were open to let sunlight into the room, Zachaeus laid down on the somewhat uncomfortable straw filled mattress and drifted off into a deep, dreamless sleep.
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Edward led Emily to the flower gardens. They were in bloom. Edwards' strong tolerance to sunlight allowed him to show her everything. Emily enjoyed herself. She loved seeing all the flowers. When she saw the white roses, she smiled brightly. Edward smiled a bit as well. He enjoyed seeing her smile like that. There were guards close by, he noted. They were looking in their direction. Edward did his best not to notice them for a while. He wanted the princess to be happy and enjoy herself.

He had very near almost forgotten about his brother, the baron.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Dinh AaronMk
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Over the ink black sea and cast under the veil of darkness, the imperial city of Xelwyth rose over the waters, cloistered safely in behind a bay at a natural harbor, the waters were calmer than the waves that crashed about just beyond the rocky battlements of the cliffs and tumbled rock escarpments that formed the outer rim of the bay. Under the light of twin light houses the dark ship bearing the ancient, wealthy Semiane drifted into the wide bowl of the Mistborn Bay. Climbing up the gentle rise of the distant shore rose the imperial city, capping out at the high palace atop its horned spear at its distant end, flanked by the jagged teeth of young volcanic mountains. The City Under Twilight.

The crew on deck fluttered about the busy work of guiding the ship into port. The most dangerous point of a voyage being its beginning and end, and much more in a port operated by day and night seemingly without rest. The cautious sailors looked up, making religious signs for their protection as they looked on the vampire city with its sparkling night time lights. Among the cautious, the terrified, and the superstitious sailors stood the merchant Semiane himself, his hands folded in front of him. He wore from his shoulders elaborate fine robes, the latest fashions of the distant shores he came from. The wide brimmed hat he wore sagged to the side, an ornate ostrich feather weighing down with it. The shoulders and cuffs his uniform embroidered with pearls of ivory white, and oily black. He had taken to styling his beard, and he wore it parted, tied with vermilion strands.

He was regarded with rye suspicion among the men. Who was this man who had not stepped out into the light of day once doing here, looking dapper and dandy as a fuck in the early night moon gazing with warm expectation at the city they were drawing up on now. But here was Semiane's journey coming to an end, and here was his choice for further opportunity. How will the absolute protectionism of the Xelwyth Empire bend, or break under a new immortal emperor?

A sea of lantern light soon came to envelop the ship as it made its way through the waters. They attached themselves to the sea fearing vessel and after some exchanges with the captain proceeded to tow in the boat. Their oars pounding the dark waters as they labored it ahead and to the docks, where it was fastened with heavy lines to the pier.

Accompanied by the captain, a modestly dressed middle-aged man Semiane stepped foot into the Xelwyth Empire. A representative of the customs authority was quick to approach them, a clipboard with an attached candle in hand and a quill in the other. His pale flesh the consistency of yellowing bone, his eyes dark and deep set. He terrified the captain, whom Semiane could smell was becoming terrified. A mote of joy lit in his heart at the thought.

Dryly, the dock-side bureaucrat said, “Who are you, and what is your business in the Empire?” he spoke with defined contempt and bitterness.

“I'm a representative of the Scüddle, Caper, and Sons trading company.” Semiane said, “I've come on their behest to seek out any potential partnerships, and permission to establish a post in the Empire.” he added, handing over a small leather bound portfolio to the vampire.

With dry indifference he opened the papers and looked through, very quickly checking the individual pages. He hummed in the back of his throat, tsk'ing as he went. “Very well, sir.” he said, writing the details down and handing back the portfolio, “But in accordance with Imperial Edict 10,437 Section 105: all foreign business missions must pay the buisiness fee, and deposit on tariff payable to the amount of te-”

“Will the Empire accept a line of credit to be opened?” Semiane asked out of habit.

“Within the present millennium I think not.” the vampire said.

“Then I have the money, if I can have the recipet.”

The vampire looked at him cynically, and disregarding the comment turned to the captain, “And docking fees?”

He nodded.

“I trust I will have an opportunity to see the emperor?” Semiane asked.

“You will see him in time or a valid representative of the Immortal Master.” the dock clerk replied, “This is all, do you need to know where you might find residency?”

Semiane nodded, “If you'd be so kind.”

“You'll find a variety of hotels along the port street.” he began, but stopped momentarily, “Though a man of your caliber may better appreciate the accommodations along the Avenue Mortem.” he added, waving a clawed hand in the direction of the avenue, “They are normally reserved for the imperial nobility visiting the capital if a guest room can not be had in the palace. But I am sure they are open to you with a heavy enough purse.”

“Thank you.”

“When you finalize your accommodations, return its address to the port authority and we will prepare it in a dispatch to the palace and we will see how long they get back to you.”
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by gorgenmast
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Ulrek grimaced as he choked down a goblet of blood as he broke his fast shortly after rising from his daytime slumber. The goblet, made from a pewter containing small traces of silver, was part of a new set of diningware produced by the Felmurg Mountain dwarves by Ulrek's commission. The silver within the goblet from which he drank imparted a nauseatingly bitter taste to the otherwise pleasant irony sweetness that vampires savored. The fact that Ulrek was not crumbling into a withering heap upon tasting the silver-tinged blood gave proof to the effectiveness of his efforts. But it was not only the silvery bitterness on his tongue that made the vampire baron frown this evening; for Ulrek Bathory had been awakened by bad news.

A week had passed since his escape, and still the chamberlain of Felboge Keep eluded justice. Even with regular patrols along the borderlands of the Great Weald, Ulrek doubted that the chamberlain would ever be caught. As far as Ulrek was concerned, it was inevitable that word of his traitorous deeds would become known to the wider world. Worse still, an informant from the Capital had arrived that afternoon bringing word to Ulrek's court that his brother, Edward Bathory, was courting a human princess from a neighboring realm. At this rate, it would not be long before Edward Bathory was wed and earned the inheritance of the realm. Rumors had reached Felboge Keep that both Matteas and Rory had been slain within days of one another. If the rumors were to be believed, the vampire hunters in Ulrek's employ were busy at their bloody work. In spite of these encouraging tales and the higher bounty offered for Edward's death, Ulrek doubted that the vampire slayers would be able to dispatch Edward Bathory. Surrounded at all times by the honor guard of Castle Bathory and under the protective watch of perhaps the most powerful vampire in all the world, Prince Edward would be a difficult nut to crack. Ulrek knew he would have to be more aggressive to deal with Edward.

To this end, the Baron's vassals were gathered around the throne: counts, mayors of the various towns and hamlets within the Great Weald, and knights with their own minor keeps and castles scattered throughout Weald's moors and woodlands. For the six generations that Baron Ulrek had ruled these lands, not once had the all the Baron's vassal's been convened. Before Ulrek had even addressed them, the reason they had been summoned was evident to all. Ulrek Bathory meant to raise an army.

"Let us begin with the numbers," Ulrek asked, wincing as he gulped down the last of his silver-tainted blood. How many men can be summoned?"

"For what purpose, your majesty? How many men do you need?" One of the counts asked.

"For a campaign beyond the borders of this land. I need as many men as can be spared."

"Your majesty, the levies we can muster will be... of dubious fighting capability," explained a knight from the woodlands to the northeast of the Weald. "These men you want us to conscript are not warriors, but farmers, shepherds, and fishermen. They may have some worth protecting the palisades of their towns in dire circumstances. But to send them to foreign battlefields? They will desert as soon as there is danger of combat. Such levies excel only at absorbing arrow fire and dying."

"Then they will serve plenty of use," Baron Ulrek replied coldly. "I will ask but once more: how many men can be spared?"

"30,000 men at most," another knight estimated. "20,000 is more realistic. Unfortunately the Great Weald is not a populous realm, your majesty."

Ulrek frowned. Somewhere between 20 and 30 thousand men was not the massive host he had hoped for. Zachaeus and Edward could likely press 30,000 citizens into combat to defend Castle Bathory just from the Capital's populace alone. The Great Weald would not yield anywhere near enough men to usurp control of the Empire. Ulrek would have to look beyond his borders.

"How many men could mustered from the wards of my brother Matteas?" Ulrek asked. The Baron's question raised the eyebrows of some of the counts in attendance.

"Solleck is a smaller but more densely-populated realm, your majesty," said one of the counts, humoring his liege's strange question. "I would suspect his lands could yield another 15,000 to 20,000 men. Unfortunately though, your majesty, those vassals answer to your brother Matteas and not you."

Not if he is slain, thought Ulrek.

"It is worth noting also that Sturin's Folk, the Felmurg Dwarves, would owe soldiers should they be asked."

"Indeed," Ulrek agreed. "The right to mine as much mithril and gold as they can carry off was not given freely. I shall demand 10,000 fighting dwarves. They will acquiesce, lest I deny them their precious metals."

"Allow me to temper your expectations, your majesty. Even if you were to amass a host of 50,000 to 60,000 men - a very large army and a tremendously expensive undertaking I must add - the vast majority of these men will be unseasoned peasants. They will flee at the first sign of trouble. We cannot depend entirely on levies in battle, certainly not in a campaign away from home. You will rely heavily on professional soldiers: expensive mercenaries and a great number of them. This campaign you propose will require an obscene fortune to finance. The Great Weald would not earn such a sum in taxes in a decade. How do you intend to pay for all of this?"

The Mayor of Cerncester had made a valid point, Ulrek could not fault him for that. Over the past century, Ulrek had built the Great Weald into a profitable realm, but nowhere near profitable enough to sustain a war against his father and brother. Ulrek's gambit for his father's throne would require financiers with deep pockets indeed. Ulrek would need to make the sort of contacts that could only be found in a city as large as the Capital. But travel now was too risky, and it was probable that his erstwhile chamberlain would betray Ulrek's intentions to Edward and Zachaeus by the time he had arrived. A journey to the Imperial Heartlands would almost certainly result in his immediate arrest. A middleman would be needed to find the backers he needed in the Capital.

"That informant who revealed the development with Edward and his new suitor... is he still here?" Ulrek asked.

"No sire, he left the keep perhaps two hours ago, presumably on his way back to the Capital."

"Send a horseman to go and fetch him immediately," Ulrek ordered. "Return him to me and inform him that I shall triple whatever he was just paid if he performs a favor for me in the Capital."
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Vampiretwilight
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(fast forwarding a bit to move the story along)

Edward had soon led the princess into the city. They had arrived by carriage and already there were eyes upon them. However, no one said anything out of respect for the prince.

The prince led the princess to the various shops and stands. Emily had a nice time, especially since she was away from her father and it was finally peaceful, or so she thought. Edward would gather up many a purchased item for her, whatever she desired.

After many an hour passed, the prince escorted the princess back to the castle. the carriage would be passing through the gates just as the guards changed for the next shift.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by The Wyrm
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Solomon was angry at himself. He had been so focused on getting ready for the attack he had in mind that he had failed to eat, or even sleep, for some time. When he at last nodded off, he fell so deeply into sleep that when the royal carriage clattered forth from the castle he only awoke as the damn thing passed by without him having an instant to react. He had a fleeting glimpse of Prince Edward and some terrified looking girl and then they were gone.

He had roundly cursed himself out and then proceeded to quickly lay the last part of his plan, a fuse sewn into a waterproof leather sheath that he carefully ran up the stairs and onto the roof. He had tasted the fuse and knew that the entire length would burn in roughly thirty to thirty five seconds. More than enough time.

As if in an answer to his prayers, the rain had stopped and he could see the glimmer of sunlight as it tried to push through the cloud cover. It was a sign from God.

Now two roofs over from the house he had mined, he sat with his back to a tall chimney and kept a careful watch down the long roadway that the carriage must return through. His gaze was drawn to several heavily cloaked figures slowly beginning to infiltrate the crowds that were walking slowly along the cobblestones, stunned faces turned skyward as a beam of sunlight shot across the granite grey city to splash a blast of golden light across pale skinned faces.

He noted a half dozen men who did not seem at all interested and deduced from their size, for they were clearly well fed, and mannerisms, that they must be a group of his vampire hunting brethren. Ordinarily this would not bother him but they had chosen an intersection fifty yards before his own ambush point. This meant they would intercept Prince Edward before he could. For an instant he thought about abandoning his position but a glance toward the castle told him moving was unwise. The guard was changing and nearly a hundred soldiers were milling about as their officers exchanged salutes.

As if on cue, he heard the thunder of the Princes approaching carriage. The sun was stronger, pushing through more and more, the warm light washing over the stunned guardsmen who paused in the middle of their ceremony to enjoy the brief moment.

Abruptly a horrible scream cut through the air as the other Vampire Hunters sprung their trap, a crossbow bolt flashing out to bury itself in the carriage drivers neck. Amazingly the man didn't die, instead grimly clinging to his reins as he drove the horses onward. Solomon had to admire the mans determination. The guards around the main gate exploded into motion like a swarm of ants disturbed at their nest and began to run toward the carriage even as the Princes personal guard closed in around it. Some went down in crumpled heaps as more crossbow bolts flashed out.

One of the horses gave a tremendous scream as it's foreleg broke on the uneven cobblestone and it tumbled down in a heap, just shy of the entrance to the house Solomon had so carefully prepared. The other five horses were dragged to a stop by its weight and the heavy carriage slewed sideways as the Vampire Hunters, nine of them, swarmed toward it, butchering the Princes guardsmen who had clearly not had to fight any living enemies in a long time.

The hundred or so men coming from the Castle were another thing however and their own crossbows fired, throwing back several of the Princes attackers. One of the Hunters sprang to the door of the carriage and wrenched it open, wooden stake in hand, but a bolt slammed into his side and he spun away with a shriek that was almost lost beneath the roar of the approaching guardsmen.

That was when Solomon blew the mine. The black powder so carefully concealed in the house and mortared in place to help direct the blow, caught fire and unleashed its tremendous power. As predicated, much of it was wasted upward but enough had been planted to ensure the complete destruction of the house.

For a moment it was as if the fuse had not worked as planned, but then a low rumble filled the street. The houses walls bulged, buckled, and then exploded outward in a tremendous billow of stone, splinters, ash and flame. The blast scattered the charging soldiers and Vampire Hunters like leaves before the wind, sweeping them clear from the street in an instant. The heavy carriage was hurled onto its side and the remainder of the horses slaughtered by the blast.

A strange silence seemed to fill the street as it reverberated with the roar of the blast. Then the screams could be heard. The calls for help. The sounds of men whose lives had been destroyed in an instant. Only two Vampire Hunters remained and they stumbled through the dust and smoke toward the Princes overturned carriage, weapons in hand. Men of determination and opportunity. Solomon admired that.

Of the guardsmen there was no sign. The majority of them had taken the brunt of the explosion and died instantly. The remainder were either wounded or to dazed to resist. Several did manage to stand but blood leaked from their ears and eyes, the concussion of the blast had shattered something in their head.

Solomon carefully lifted his crossbow and fitted a bolt, tipped with wood and dipped in holy water, into the groove. He balanced it on the edge of the chimney and took aim at the carriage. He had no doubt that the young Prince had survived, but how well, he did not know.

The last two ambushers began to scramble onto the carriage, intent on finishing the Prince. If they failed, Solomon would kill him. If they succeeded, he would kill them instead.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by ZAVAZggg
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Zachaeus awoke when he felt the earth shake. But that was impossible. He knew that earthquakes in the lands his kingdom occupied were nonexistent due to how geologically stable the rock and strata beneath it was. It was one of the main reasons he'd chosen these lands to establish his kingdom in thousands of years ago.

No, this was not a mere earthquake.

This was an attack.

Throwing on his clothes, Zachaeus ran towards the window and practically ripped the curtains aside in rage, his mind racing. Could Ulrek have launched an attack of some kind? It couldn't be, for there were no sounds of combat or soldier's marching through the streets, nor the sounds of seige engine's or warcries. An accident then? No, Zachaeus thought to himself as he stepped out onto the balcony, the sunlight only slightly singing his pale white skin, for there were no such places or objects in his city that could cause the world itself to shake.

So if it wasn't an attack by Ulrek, a foreign army, or some magical/alchemical experiment gone wrong, then what had caused the disturbance he'd felt?

Squinting from the harsh light, Zachaeus let his gaze roam across the city searching for anything amiss until the sight and smell of smoke coming from one of the crowded streets in the southern portion of the city caught his attention. Growling in an unbridled rage Zachaeus' grip on the marble banister he was leaning against tightened so much, the stonework shattered. Letting out a bestial roar, Zachaeus rushed back into his quarter's, grabbed Bloodline, equipped a suit of armor to further combat the sun's effects, and ran back onto the balcony before jumping down to the streets below and running towards the chaos at inhuman speed.

He would find whoever had dared to disturb the lives of his citizens...

And he would kill them.
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Edward gasped. The carriage had been attacked! They had just reached the castle gates when it happened. The prince didn't care what happened to himself but if something happened to the princess...

He had to protect her.

During the chaos, he used his camouflage to slip out, taking Emily with him. Emily was frightened. She didn't think anyone would risk attacking a princess. It would start a war after all.

She allowed Edward to carry her off during the fighting. Edward got as far as he could towards the castle before setting her on the ground. He went back afterwards to make sure that the attackers were held off. The sight that greeted him was a terrible one. His eyes turned red. In a flash, using claws and his sword, he took out half a dozen of them.

However, Edward was growing tired. He had no choice now. He had to call for help from old friends.....
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by gorgenmast
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The vampire hunter opened his eyes to a massive plume of dust and smoke rising into the overcast sky. Bits of rubble and debris continued to fall out around him, creating a pitter-patter sound not unlike rain falling upon an open field. The vampire slayer tasted the coppery tinge of blood in his saliva as he staggered to his feet and tried to discern what had just happened.

Surrounding the recovering vampire hunter was a scene absolute devastation, like an illustration of the underworld brought to life. At least a hundred men and women lay strewn around him dying, dead, or ripped apart the sheer force of the explosion that had knocked him off of his feet perhaps a minute earlier. The vampire hunter was one of the lucky ones, having suffered what seemed to be only minor injuries. Most of the rest of his posse had not been so fortunate, for he saw two of his partners splayed out with glazed-over eyes among the numerous dead. The cobblestone road was slick with congealing blood of dozens of guards and bystanders and a fine mist of blood droplets of some pulverized casualty had been sprayed onto the facades of the houses opposite a smoldering crater where moments earlier a house had stood. This had all the earmarks of a firedust explosion; though no such destruction had been planned by the vampire hunter and his posse. Someone else was after Edward's bounty.

Like wheat sprouts from a barren winter field, the first of the surviving guards were beginning to rise after the initial shock of the explosion. The relative silence following the blast was now broken by the first of a series of agonized wails and screams as the survivors regained consciousness and began to register the bodily damage they had sustained. Bells throughout the city began to toll, alerting the city's populace to some great danger and mobilizing the city's guards into action. The entirety of the Capital's guard would be converging on the ambush site shortly; he had to move quickly if the bounty was to be his. The vampire staggered to the overturned carriage, drawing a wooden stake from a holster on his belt. No matter that his comrades had died in the explosion, a greater share of Edward's tremendous bounty would be his now.

One of his partners had survived the blast: a broad-shouldered giant of a vampire slayer. Five uninjured guards had engaged him, but he held them off with a long-chained, two-handed flail. The guards prodded at the big man ineffectually with their halberds, as the twirling flail's head kept the guards just out of reach. One of the guards erred, overreaching with his polearm in a bid to skewer the vampire slayer. The giant at once stepped down hard on the flat face of the halberd's blade, pinning the weapon against the ground and leaving the guard defenseless as he swung wide and sent the flail's spiked head crashing into his neck, crumpling the guard's plate armor and sending him to the ground in a gurgling heap. Before the other guards could parry, the giant vampire slayer swung hard with the flail, freeing the ball from the fallen guard's neck and whipping it around the blade of a halberd of another guard. With a deft yank of the flail, the vampire slayer pulled the halberd out of the guard's hands, sending it clattering against the cobblestones. The giant twirled the flail again and plunged the ball down upon the head of another guard; his thick helm offered little protection against such force and crumpled in a bloody splash.

The giant was a formidable foe to be sure; he would buy enough time to plant the wooden stake in Edward's heart.

The vampire hunter stepped over dozens of bodies on his way toward the overturned carriage, its drawhorses laying in twisted heaps in front of it. A number of crossbow bolts were embedded in the side of the carriage and the doors remained shut. He hoped that the Vampire prince inside was already dead, that he could simply recover some token of proof from the corpse and present it to Ulrek upon escaping this city. But he knew that to be wishful thinking. A vampire as strong as Edward Bathory would not be slain so easily, and would put up a tremendous fight before allowing a stake to plunged into his heart. The vampire slayer climbed up onto the overturned carriage and drew a bulb of garlic from a satchel on his chest. He tore into the papery husk with his teeth and bit off a large clove, chewing it into a lumpy pulp and swallowing. The peppery bite of the garlic burned on its way down his throat and stomach where it would effuse throughout his body, effectively poisoning his flesh and blood against vampires in preparation with a close-quarters struggle.

The vampire hunter threw the door of the carriage open.

"End of the road for you, Edw-... w-what?"

The carriage was empty. The vampire slayer was dumbfounded as he found nothing inside. Not so much as a smear or drop of blood on the upholstered leather seating of the carriage, only some expensive market goods scattered along the floor and downward-facing door of the carriage. Perhaps the prince and his suitor had been thrown from the carriage during the blast? But surely, there would be some evidence of such a violent ejection? Blood or hair smeared on the inside? The vampire slayer found no indication of such a traumatic event. It was as if the passengers had simply vanished into thin air.

The vampire heard a loud tearing sound, followed by a meaty thud behind him. Looking over his shoulder, he saw his partner collapse amidst a pile of slain guards with four bloody lacerations running down his torso. Edward stood above him, eyes burning with red fury. A hundred paces behind him, a cohort of castle honor guards were running to catch up to their prince. Coming up the opposite side of the thoroughfare, dozens of guards summoned by the tolling alarm bells were coming to respond to the disaster. The vampire slayer was surrounded and there was no way he was going to successfully fight his way though Edward Bathory and the entirety of the Capital's guard. And while he remembered Ulrek's suggestion to die fighting, when faced against such overwhelming force it struck the vampire slayer as prudent to attempt to find another way out.

The surviving vampire slayer leapt down from the empty carriage and threw the wooden stake to the ground. He took another bite from the garlic bulb before tossing that aside as well. As the guards pressed in and encircled him, he raised his hands above his head in submission.

"I'll talk," the vampire slayer said as the halberds and spearpoints closed in around him. "Pardon me and I tell everything I know."
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by ZAVAZggg
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Zachaeus slowed his run to a walk as he approached the scene of the devastation. Having heard the sound of bells tolling throughout the city earlier, he knew that a large contingent of guards would be rushing towards the area just like him in order to help contain the threat. His deduction was confirmed by the silhouettes of guards in the acrid smoke ahead of him as he drew closer to the gore and blood soaked scene. Several of the guards turned and bowed slightly as he walked closer, before moving off to either side of him so he could get through.

Once he was on the other side of the long wall of steel death his soldier's had formed around the area, he saw his son Edward, a ruined carriage, and lots of corpses. And standing in the midst of it all was a lone man clad in leather attire with his hands raised aboved his head in a gesture of surrender who was surrounded by various weapons, including stakes, that made the man's profession as a vampire hunter clear to Zachaeus. Once he was finished examining the scene, he turned to his son and asked...

"What happened?"
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Vampiretwilight
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Edward stepped forward. His exhaustion was starting to really take its' toll. However, he did not collapse. He turned to a guard after the hunter spoke.

"Make sure that THEY know."
He was referring to the old friends of his from his days fighting for the kingdom as a young one. Not all of them were vampires.

The guard nodded and left.
Edward turned to the hunter. His eyes narrowed. They were very very red. He sighed.

"Increase security. And make sure that HE comes straight away."
Edward talked about the one alley all in every surrounding kingdom feared the most. He spoke to the hunter.
"Do not think I will bite you. I know better than to stoop so low. I have far worse methods of eliminating a threat."

He gave a nod to the rest of the guards. They would know what to do.

All he cared about was that princess Emily was safe and sound. Emily was hidden away somewhere until the threat was gone.

Edward blinked upon hearing his father speak. He turned and saw him there. He took a careful breath and told him everything. He did not leave out a single detail.

"Unfortunately the responsible party got away. This hunter was caught attempting to take advantage of the chaos and eliminate me. Word of warning, do not bite him or drink any of his blood."
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by ZAVAZggg
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Zachaeus nodded, carefully taking in all the information his son had given him before turning his attention back towards the man. "So you still use garlic these days? Figures." The vampire king remarked with a scoff as he took a few steps closer to the man. "You hunters always were a nuisance. Even in death your predecessors tried to kill my kind, although I will admit that most of them deserved it." He remarked calmly as he approached the hunter, coming face to face with him.

"But enough of that." He growled, raising the tip of Bloodline to the man's throat. "Tell me why I should pardon you after you killed my citizen's and tried to assassinate my son?" He said menacingly, applying a little bit more pressure to the blade which caused a thin dot of blood to appear on the man's neck.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by gorgenmast
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"Because this," the vampire slayer said, gesturing to the display of utter carnage surrounding them with a flicking nod of the head, "this is only the beginning."

"There's more of this coming. Let me live, and I'll help prepare you lot prepare for what's coming. Every iota of preparedness you can buy is lives saved. Lives of your countrymen, lives of your sons. But if you're too proud to let me go, if some misplaced sense of justice or pride is worth the lives of your people and family, then go ahead and stick that sword in my throat."




Nobody traveling along the West Weald Road paid much mind to the hobbling beggar slowly ambling westward toward the border of Solleckshire. With an outstretched palm and an unintelligible murmuring plea, the vagabond greeted all those who crossed his path. Wagons and passersby responded to the destitute cripple with either derision or the charity of a tin penny or two, and then promptly forgot him entirely. Even a highwayman that had happened upon this pathetic drifter paid little attention to him; disinterestedly accepting a handful of tin coins before allowing the hobbling wretch to pass without so much as a second thought. Little did any of them know that the filthy vagabond limping westward was a wanted fugitive and former chamberlain of the court of Ulrek Bathory.

The former chamberlain had nearly reached the Imperial Heartlands when he overheard in some roadside hamlet that border patrols had intensified along the southern borders of the realm. While his disguise was effective at allowing the chamberlain to hide and travel in plain sight, he knew that he would be found out if subjected to more rigorous investigation by a border patrol. The chamberlain therefore took a detour to the west, traveling to the less heavily-policed border between the Great Weald and Solleckshire. From the realm of Solleck, the chamberlain would be free from Ulrek's clutches and he could travel quickly to the Imperial Capital. Now he was less than a day's walk from Trout Run, the river that marked the border between the Weald and Solleck. Under the cover of night, the chamberlain would attempt to cross the shallow river and free himself of Ulrek Bathory forever.

The former chamberlain came upon a small town situated upon the road - Lachenheath - the chamberlain recalled. This would be the last settlement on his journey before leaving Ulrek's dominion. This would be a fine opportunity purchase some fresh shoes from the town's shoemaker to replace the old holey slippers that would be ruined after crossing the river that night.

Just before the open moor transitioned to garden plots and wattle-and-daub huts of the town peasantry, a lonely moor tree caught the attention of the chamberlain. A wind-stunted and gnarled hawthorn tree, scarcely fifteen feet high, marked the entrance of the town. From one of the tree's few thick branches, a man hung limply by a short noose. The toes of his boots hung mere inches above the grass, and on a wooden placard hanging around his identified the criminal to all those who made their way into the town. 'I WAS A HIGHWAYMAN' was scrawled crudely in black paint upon the sign. The chamberlain immediately recognized his pale and bloated face as the same brigand who had dispassionately stolen a pittance of 23 pence from him two days earlier. His stomach dropped, not because of any love lost for the hanged man, but because it signified that Ulrek's men had been here not long ago. The chamberlain resolved to buy his shoes and leave this place at once.

Lachenheath was bustling today, more so than any small country town should be on a normal day, for a small crowd had gathered in the town's plaza. The chamberlain attempted to skirt around the edge of the gathered throng, trying as best he could to avoid so many scrutinizing eyes. His attempts at bypassing the crowd were unsuccessful, and he was summoned by an authoritative bark.

"Oi! You there! Ovah 'ere for inspection!" A voice commanded from over the crowd. The townsfolk parted slightly, all turning to face the disguised chamberlain. With so much attention on him, the chamberlain trembled. Partly to play the role of a feeble vagabond, but also out of a genuine fear. As commanded, he hobbled over to the town's central plaza. Two horsemen sat in their saddles beside a covered wagon, dressed in plate and mail. Knights, surrounded by a gaggle of unhorsed armored sergeants dressed in chainmail cuirasses. Ulrek's men were indeed in this town, and in greater number than the chamberlain could have ever anticipated. His trembling intensified.

"C'mere you, yes you!" An armored sergeant ordered. The chamberlain shuffled over toward Ulrek's men and presented himself.

"I ain't eat for two days, suh," the chamberlain croaked, mimicking the actual vagabond he had purchased this disguise a week earlier. "Spare two pence for some bread?"

The chamberlain could feel the eyes of the knights and men at arms studying him carefully. Their eyes ran across his filthy robe and hood, his trembling, outstretched palms, and the muddy, hole-pocked slippers that hung limply to his calloused feet.

"Not this one," one of the knights decided after what felt like an hour. "He is of no use to us."

"Roight," the man-at-arms agreed. "This'n's loiable to die on the march."

"Go on, git goin'!" Another sergeant barked, shooing the chamberlain away from them. He happily obliged, melting into the crowd pressing in around the the town plaza. But once within the safety of the crowd, the chamberlain was stopped by his own curiosity. He looked back and got another glimpse at the men gathered within the plaza. Some thirty men, all clad in dirty serf's attire, standing in loose formation before Ulrek's men and the wagon.

"That's 27, sire," the chamberlain heard one of the sergeants say.

"About as many as we can expect to muster from such a place. It will have to suffice."

"Men of Lachenheath!" The mounted knight addressed, tugging his stirrups and galvanizing his steed into a loping pace around the conscripts. "Your liege, Baron Ulrek Bathory, has seen fit to call forth all able-bodied men of the realm to provide for the protection of these lands. No such call to arms has been made in any of our lifetimes, nor the lifetimes of our fathers. Your liege desires peace and industry and detests war, as evidenced by the extreme peculiarity of this call to arms. As such, you can be assured of the absolute necessity of your commitment to the defense of these lands, your parents, your women, and your children. But with this comes a rare opportunity. The spoils of war will be tremendous. Serve your liege honorably on the battlefield, and the spoils of the Baron's enemies will be yours to do with as you please. You lot have the opportunity to become wealthy men indeed."

The armored sergeants reached into the wagon and brought out armfuls of mismatching helmets and bundles of spears. Each of the assembled conscripts was handed some sort of kettle hat and a spear. In the light of the cloud-filtered sun, their spearpoints glimmered with a mirrorlike sheen impossible to achieve with iron or steel. It was then that the chamberlain realized that the speartips were made of silver. The chamberlain realized now why Ulrek had allowed the Felmurg Dwarves to keep so much mithril in exchange for silver. The Baron was amassing an army wielding silver weapons. Ulrek meant to wage war against his own family.

The chamberlain practically ran from the crowd. As he went through the alleys and paths between houses and huts, he witnessed the womenfolk harvesting crops from their garden plots. They yanked thick green shoots from the rocky soil, revealing dirt-caked bulbs of white garlic. They were small, anemic bulbs, harvested hastily before reaching maturity. Even so, their harvests were substantial. Each plot had a small pile of the bulbs or a sizeable allotment of unpicked shoots. No doubt this was commanded by Ulrek as well, but for what purpose? What could Ulrek intend to do with so much garlic?

The chamberlain went due west from the town, out onto the open moor. There was no time to waste following marked roads. He had to take the most direct route west to Solleck, and from there to the Imperial Capital to warn King Zachaeus of Ulrek's intent. The chamberlain scaled a rocky ridge to the west of town, for the urgency of his journey was now so great that there was no longer time to walk around such obstacles.

((Suggested listening))

On a rocky, windswept promontory upon the ridge, the chamberlain was afforded a commanding view of the western fringe of the Great Weald. Perhaps a half-league to the west, Trout Run babbled southward toward the fertile Imperial Heartlands. The border was in sight at last. After a brief rest from his climb up the ridge, the chamberlain assured himself, he would make haste to cross the river.

Over the whistling wind blowing off the moor, the chamberlain heard a peculiar sound. Drums. A steady, rhythmic beat sounded over the land. Off in the distance, on the West Weald Road winding off to the north, he saw where the drumbeat was coming from.

Marching down the road was a contingent of men carrying gleaming, silvery spearpoints high above their heads. Perhaps a thousand of them in this particular formation. A small army, flanked by dozens of horse-mounted knights and men at arms carrying lances and spears festooned with long silver banner fluttering in the wind. Silver gray silk and the black bat sigil of the Baron. Even now, Ulrek's forces were on the march. And this particular army appeared to making its way to the border of Solleckshire.

The chamberlain stood up immediately and ran down the opposite side of the ridge, down across the moor toward the river. There was no time for rest rest now, for it was clear that so long as Ulrek lived, nowhere in the Imperium was safe.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by The Wyrm
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Emily had staggered sideways and then watched in amazement as Edward turned into a true Vampire Lord, ripping into his enemies with a skill that surprised everyone. She had placed a delicate hand to her mouth to smother a gasp of admiration when two soldiers appeared next to her. One smiled and took her arm.

"This way m'lady. We'll get..." His next words ended in a gasp and he slumped to the ground as Solomon whipped his sword upward to kill the second soldier.

Emily opened her mouth to scream but the sword was suddenly at his throat. The man in front of her was tall, handsome, and wore an Imperium guardsman's cloak over a deep red jacket that was certainly not issue.

"Not a word now, lovey. Be a shame to cut your throat."

She nodded, her eyes wide in terror as he slipped an arm around her shoulders and hurried her toward the castle crying "Make way!"

Soldiers parted in front of them, barely paying them a glance. Just before the castle he turned a sharp right into an alley and hurried Emily deeper into the city. The last sight he had of the carnage was the Vampire King with a sword at the throat of a Vampire Hunter. That man was doomed. He was very glad he had not revealed his identity to any of the fools while they were entering the Imperium. Though he was certain that the Vampire King would figure things out, the creature couldn't have survived so long otherwise.

He didn't have much time and he knew it. Once the Prince figured out that his prize was gone, nothing would prevent him from ripping the city apart. There was only one place that he could possibly take the girl, and only one being who would be interested in paying for her. Ulrek.

He paused briefly and pulled out a small bottle from his bag and a rag. He poured some of the liquid onto the cloth before holding it up to Emilys face. "Does this smell funny to you?"

Emily inhaled without thinking and instantly became nauseous. She staggered for a moment then her vision began to cloud and she collapsed into his arms. He quickly heaved her over his shoulder and continued down the street until he found a stable. The owner took one look at the unconscious girl, the bag of gold in Solomons hands, and didn't say a word as he led a good looking mare from the stables, handing over the reins.

Solomon nodded his thanks, heaved Emily over the saddle horn and then swung up behind her. He kicked the horse forward and made for the city gates. Smoke still rose from the entrance to the castle and he could see flames flickering among the other buildings now. A fire had broken out and the good weather that was currently passing over the city had chased away the rain allowing the blaze to spread. Chaos. He loved it.

The guardsmen at the gate paid him no attention as they stared toward the smoke and he rode clear into the moors. The sun was racing across it in bursts as it battled with the clouds for dominance of the landscape. He kicked back his heels and rode hard for Ulreks Keep.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Vampiretwilight
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Edward narrowed his eyes as his father interrogated the hunter. He blinked and frowned, his eyes darting about. He suddenly had a very bad feeling. His instincts were triggered. He looked at his father.

"Excuse me, I must check on the princess."
Edward ran off. He went to where Emily had been hidden. He gasped when he saw that she was missing. The prince quickly sniffed the air and caught the scents that remained. His eyes turned red. He snarled. Someone must have taken her, he thought. The main reasons for finding her were political, but he had his own personal reasons as well now.

Edward broke into a run as he quickly tracked down the scent to the stables. The stable boys who knew him gave up the information quickly. They knew how vicious Edward could be if angered enough. They wanted to live. He grabbed a stallion and hopped onto its' back. He had the horse run along as he continued to track down the scent. His eyes went wide when he saw where the trail led him to.

But, then, his eyes narrowed and he smirked.
"They made a big mistake by heading in THERE of all places."
He knew he'd be able to catch up to them quickly now. He had a friend in there from when he ran away from home as a small child. They'd be able to help him.

He saw the raven that was her familiar. He wrote a note on old paper that was in his pocket and handed it to the bird, who flew off to his master. It was only a matter of time now.

Emily had simply been waiting for Edward when Solomon practically attacked her. Before she knew it, she had a cloth pressed against her mouth. She was soon out cold before she could even think about what was happening, let along register and acknowledge it. She would not even notice being on a horse or anything like that.

She would wake up some time later in the moors. She would be highly confused. However, she would also be very angry and would demand that Solomon let her go. She would inform him of who she was and who her father was. Not only was the hunter risking causing a war, but there would be a bounty on the head of whoever had her, especially if they did her any harm.

Emily prayed Edward would find her though.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by ZAVAZggg
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"Because this," the vampire slayer said, gesturing to the display of utter carnage surrounding them with a flicking nod of the head, "this is only the beginning."

"There's more of this coming. Let me live, and I'll help prepare you lot prepare for what's coming. Every iota of preparedness you can buy is lives saved. Lives of your countrymen, lives of your sons. But if you're too proud to let me go, if some misplaced sense of justice or pride is worth the lives of your people and family, then go ahead and stick that sword in my throat."


Zachaeus stared into the man's eyes intently as he considered what he'd said. It was true that if he let him live, he could be a very valuable asset. But on the other hand he could easily betray him and his entire family by giving away information on the cities defenses, food stores, and weapons.

No, he would not let this man live. It was too great of a risk. He would defend his city and people on his own as he had so many ages ago.

"It's a tempting offer...but I'm afraid it will not be one that I accept, for I simply cannot trust you. I'm sorry." Zachaeus said as he ran the blade through the man's throat causing him to choke and cough up blood. Throwing the dying vampire hunter to the ground Zachaeus tasked the remaining guards with securing the city and cleaning up the devastation unleashed by the hunters as he returned to the castle.

To prepare.
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