Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Vampiretwilight
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A maid rushed in when the request was sent out for the prince. She had to tell Semaine some bad news.
"I am afraid the prince is still recovering, sir. He has been through a great ordeal and needs his rest. Please understand."

Edward was still asleep. Emily remained by his side.

The maid sighed.
"Although, sir, if you wish to visit him, he is in the medical ward. I shall warn you, you may not like what you see."
She frowned.
Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by The Wyrm
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Lillian felt different. For her entire life she had lived in the near perfect darkness of the castle, a serving wench who did nought but light candles and torches when required. Her skin was so pale it was almost ivory in colour and she feared what might happen if she were to go outside into the sunshine that now bathed the castle as the storm clouds above it broke and scattered.

The feeling had been growing stronger over the past two days, ever since a stranger had come to the castle. Something had happened in the throne room but no one had seen the King since and the great doors remained sealed. His son, Prince Edward, had returned with great injury upon his body, and rumours were whispered that the rest of the family had been massacred by vampire hunters. She would shed no tears for them but in truth she almost felt sorry for Prince Edward. Of all the Vampire Lords she had hated him the least. He was almost kind to her when he bothered to notice her presence.

She trailed a hand across her lower belly. The feeling was almost like that of an orgasm, it was pleasurable and gaining in intensity. It differed from sex however since she did not feel the need to scream or throw her head back, there was no ache of need for someone to be inside of her. No, this was something much more, something she could not explain.

It was obvious she was not alone. Many of the castle staff, while still busy as they bustled around, had their heads up more often and small smiles that would never have been possible under the King flitted across milky white faces. She had even heard someone whistling the other day! It was though a great shadow had been lifted from the mortals who served the undead.

"Praise God." She heard the words whispered down a side passage as she hurried along. The thick carpet beneath her feet was bright crimson dense as horses hair so that it muffled any footsteps. She stopped dead and then carefully peeked around the corner to find herself staring into the surprised face of a guardsman.

"H... Hello." She stammered. The guardsman, Yanick, had stood quickly as though he had been kneeling and was trying to look serious but she detected in his face the same joy that was slowly creeping into her own soul.

"Miss." He said with a nod. He tried to look serious but was evident that he had just come to some great decision and pure joy danced in his eyes.

"It's okay. I feel it also." Lillian reached out a hand and placed it over Yanicks. "There is a great change upon us."

The guardsman's eyes widened and he nodded shortly before finally smiling and she realized for the first time that he was quite a handsome man. "Kane has come." He whispered to her.

"Kane?" She did not know the name but it brought a burst of joy to her heart so strong that she could not repress a bright smile.

"Yes, Kane. The One. The Chosen. Gods own son."

A small thrill ran down her shoulders and spine at the words. No one had uttered the word God in a very long time, not in her living memory, but she knew of the Bible that her father had kept beneath the floor of their small shack. She had read it as a child and in great secret. Her father always said it gave him hope that things would be better one day.

"There is no Kane in the Bible." She whispered, stepping closer so that she and Yanick were only a foot apart.

"The Gospel of Kane is being written as speak. The death of the King was but the first chapter. We are in the makings of history!" Yanick had clasped both of her hands in his and she could see the sincerity in his face. "Go with God, little sister." He kissed her on the forehead and then stepped past her into the main corridor. He set back his shoulders, adopted a serious face and then strode away without looking back.

"Lillian...." A voice suddenly spoke her name and she twisted violently, fear flooding through her but there was no one behind her.

"Lillian...." The voice whispered again. It sounded as though it were coming from down the long hallway. The tone was soothing and her initial fear faded, hope once again coursing through her.

"Yes, come to me..." The voice called again and she slowly began to pace down the corridor, darting glances into every shadowed corner as she went. She saw no one, not even another servant.

The voice continued to call her name, guiding her down the long passageway and then up a long flight of spiral stairs into a portion of the castle she had never been too. It was older, and would have been darker but someone had torn the wooden shutters from the windows in one long passageway so that sunlight bathed the cold stones with warmth. She stopped, blinking in the intensity of it for a moment. The voice called her ever onward.

Halfway down the long passage she came to a single door that lay open. Someone was humming inside. It was the most beautiful sound she had ever heard.

"Come in, Lillian." The humming stopped as she approached the door. She wanted to ask who the person was, or how they knew her name, but instead she stepped into the room without hesitation. "Hello!"

The speaker was the most beautiful man she had ever laid eyes on. Long blonde hair fell down to his shoulders and piercing blue eyes regarded her above a dazzling smile. He was seated in a tall chair next to a table upon which held a decanter of wine, a glass, and a wooden stake.

"Come in, come in!" He insisted again and she came to him. Stopping a few paces away to kneel. She did not know why but it seemed proper. It occurred to her at that moment that the light in the room was coming from him. There were no torches lit, no fire burned in the ancient hearth and yet she could see every detail.

"Kane..." She whispered his name and was rewarded with another smile.

"Yes, Lillian. I am Solomon Kane."

"God has sent you?" She asked the question, though it sounded more like a statement. Kane shook his head.

"No, I have always been here, but he sent me you, Lillian."

"Sent... Me?" She was confused now. Not angry or upset, just confused.

"Yes. I asked him for a Soldier of God and he sent me you." Kane was still smiling and that smile seem to imbue her with such confidence as she had never enjoyed in her life. Like Yanick, her shoulders squared and she stood, feeling stronger at that moment than she had ever before in her life.

"What does God ask of me?" Part of her felt as though she was in someone else's body, watching what was happening without being involved.

"He requires you to kill Prince Edward." Kane's voice was a purr that seemed to race through her, warning her, encouraging her, loving her. "Wouldn't you like that, Lillian?"

She bit her lip and nodded, eyes still fixed on his. In that instant the horrible memories of life under the Undead came streaming back. Images of young women being raped by the King before he drank their blood. The laughter of his children vile children as they took part. The cruelty of the guards who served him. The humble shack she shared with her father. Her mother dying as the Prince Mattias had hurled her from the city walls when she found out she was ill. Mattias had laughed as Lillian cried and told her that it was for her own good, a sick rat could make the rest sick as well.

She felt a fire of anger suddenly swell through her and she snatched up the stake from the table next to Kane. She tested the point on her finger and giggled as it drew a drop of blood. Kane smiled at her as she slid the thing beneath her robe.

"I will do it." She said, kneeling again.

Kane stood kelt in front of her and took her head in his hands. He planted a gentle kiss on her forehead, in the same place as Yanick, then signed the air in front of her with a cross. "God wills it. And Sister Lillian shall be his champion."

It never occurred to her to ask Kane why he did not kill Edward himself. Instead she turned and hurried from the room. Back down the sunlit hallway and into the darkness of the castle. She nearly fell down the stairs and had to pause, allowing her eyes to readjust to the darkness. She could still feel the spot on her forehead where Kane had kissed her and in that kiss she felt all the power and dignity that could only be the grace of god.

She found her way quickly enough to the medical ward. A dozen guardsmen stood at the door and she approached quickly, not daring to stop. They were big men, all of them fitted with steel breastplates and conical helmets. She could almost feel their breathing as she approached. To her surprise she saw Yanick standing there, his long sword resting tip down on the floor. He saw her coming and smiled, then made the sign of the cross. In that instant she knew God had provided.

"God wills it!" His voice was like thunder in the corridor and the two men either side of him died before they even knew what had happened as he plunged a knife into the neck of one and hacked down the other with his sword. The man crashed to the ground with a scream, his helmet spinning away into a corner, his own sword clattering to the stones.

"For Kane!" A second guardsman, a man she knew as Furl, roared out and attacked his stunned companions. Two more guardsmen died beneath Furls blade before the survivors regained their wits and drew their won weapons. In an instant the corridor was the scene of a frantic battle as Yanick and Furl hurled themselves upon the remaining guardsmen.

"Run, Sister!" Yanick yelled as he stabbed his sword into the groin of another man, opening the way for Lillian to enter the medical ward. The dying soldier collapsed with a mewing sound and then a scream as he tried to grab Yanicks blade only to have it ripped free.

Lillian burst through the and was struck by a terrible smell, like a corpse, death, fermedahide, and a dozen other sickening odours. Six beds filled the space but only one was occupied. The Doctor was across the room mixing some sort of chemical as he turned to stare at her, fear written across his features. Emily gaped in turn, big round eyes shimmering with tears beneath silvery white hair. The girls pink dress was bloodied, dirty, and badly torn in some places. She looked like shit. Two other men were standing off to one side conversing between themselves but she did not recognize them, nor did she care. She only had eyes for Edward.

The body on the bed groaned and shifted toward the door. Lillian saw Edwards head turn on his pillow. They made eye contact and and she felt the hatred course through her. She drew the stake from her robe and rushed at his bed even as she screamed a battle cry to match the men who fought behind her.

"God wills it!"

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Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by gorgenmast
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((A collaboration between Dinh AaronMk and gorgenmast))

Commander Yorrek and the chamberlain stood at the foot of Edward's bed in the castle's infirmary, watching the nurses and assorted caretakers swap out the linen bandages on the Prince's abdomen. The small army of healers and apothecaries who had worked feverishly to save the handsome vampire's life upon first arriving were reduced now to just three nurses and a few maids. The prince was still in critical condition, but the situation was now much less dire. Emily, however, remained a constant fixture in the infirmary, like a statute positioned beside the prince. Even now, she caressed the vampire's silky hair as the maids carefully removed the soiled bandages covered with crusted blood while the nurses massaged a green salve into and around a deep, swollen scar on the prince's side.

"Silver blade," Yorrek said to the chamberlain. "They say that was a silver blade that did that to him. Few things hurt their kind but silver is one of them. The prince is either tough, lucky, or both, because a cut like that with a silver blade would be lethal to all but the strongest vampires."

"Before I left the court of Felboge Keep, Ulrek would purposefully touch silver with his bare hands. First time I saw him do it, he put a little silver nugget no bigger than a pebble in his hand. Set his hand on fire and nearly killed him. A few days later I saw him do it again, and then again and again until only a little smoke came off of his fingers."

"Why would he do that?" Asked Yorrek.

"I think that he was trying to build immunity," the chamberlain surmised. "By this time, I think he had committed himself to this rebellion, and thought that he might one day find himself on the sharp end of a silver blade like our prince did."

"Our prince is doing splendidly, healing right up," a nurse mentioned in passing as she went to fetch some fresh linen gauze. "I think he'll be able to walk a little bit in two or three days."

"Excellent news, dear," said Yorrek

"Oh yes, Edward'll be fine. If anything, I'm more concerned about that poor thing sitting beside him. Inseparable, she is. Hardly eats, drinks, or sleeps even; just sits beside him and asks me how he's doing when I come by."

"The prince has found a loyal woman to be sure. Emily will make for an excellent Queen."

"When the prince is feeling better and these troubles are behind us, I'll have to ask the prince where to find such a devoted woman. My wife can scarcely be bothered to have a decent supper ready in the evening," said Commander Yorrek in jest, eliciting light laughter from the nurse and chamberlain.

Their laughter was interrupted by a knock at the infirmary's door. A maid, escorted by two guards, were allowed inside.

"There's a visitor. A foreigner requesting an audience with Prince Edward. Keeps saying he has something important to discuss with him," reported the maid.

"So did the one that wanted to speak with our King," said a suddenly-somber Commander Yorrek. "Tell him the prince isn't taking visitors."

"What exactly does he want?" Asked the chamberlain, interrupting the maid as she turned for the door.

"This one says he's a... financer?" The maid - a simple woman - struggled to remember. "Says he has... a broad network of contracts, financer resources, and personable capabilities, was it?" The maid recited with difficulty. "Let me go and ask him what he said again."

"Let him in," ordered the chamberlain at once.

Semiane braced himself at the maid's warning as he stepped inside. The guards watching him curiously as he went. Across a large open court yard he gazed up at the towering palace. Decorative over hangs, supporting buttresses, and gargoyles looming out from the high walls gave the structure a thorny look. Or spun by a spider between several firm trees. The great ramparts that surrounded it sealing off the view from the city proper. Torch carrying guards slowly walked the parapets. He felt watched. Munchsin, for his part looked and acted serene and composed.

He was lead by a servant through the vaulted halls of the palace and up wide staircases and into the crowns of towers and they rose even higher. Wind whistled through the windows and there was a salty chill in the air around them that hung off their shoulders like a heavy cloak. The air was as humid and cool and oppressive as in a tomb, Semiane remarked in his thoughts.

High up in the palace they were lead to an unremarkable door. The servant opened it, and with a bow invited them through. The two entered into a room, where laying on the bed was a sickly thin and pale vampire youth, his eyes closed and lips thin. Beside him, a human girl who looked up at Semiane from her seat impassively, and back further a pair of stately dressed gentlemen.

"Baron Semiane Munch Strige," the chamberlain greeted, now having been more-completely appraised of their visitor by a less forgetful guard. "Former Baron, rather, of Transavonia. Three hundred leagues or more by ship, no? You've certainly come a long way from home to be here. Too far to simply be a moneyed samaritan wishing to provide aid in our time of need."

"Well no, I haven't come straight from there." Semiane said smiling, "I've been about the world in the past few centuries. Which does bring me to why I'm here: no, I'm not here to perform charity but I do know the kingdom is in emergency and I would like to offer services of course: for a fee."

"These are indeed trying times for our Kingdom, Master Semiane," said Commander Yorrek. "We have made certain efforts to maintain a calm demeanor within the capital and the countryside. But there is call for alarm. His brother, the Baron Ulrek Bathory of Felboge Keep, openly marches against against us and any loyal to our late king or Prince Edward."

"Ulrek has raised levies from every corner of the realm answering to his call. He has assembled at great expense the entirety of the north's knights and yeomanry, along with virtually every peasant that can march and hold a spear," the chamberlain explained.

"Ulrek and many thousands of fighting men will be upon us soon. Our walls are strong, the guard unwavering, but I fear that we are greatly outnumbered."

"We need men to bolster our forces," said the chamberlain. "As many as your purse can afford. We will gladly repay you once the usurper Ulrek has been dispatched."

"I will be willing to provide." Semiane answered the chamberlain, "Though it is worth noting my servant has already left the city to fulfill contracts for other clients. Besides waiting for him: I don't suppose the realm would be willing to loan a ship and crew? I know people, I can get things organized with a word through them and the realm can have all the finest fighters from all over the known world."

"We can procure a vessel easily enough," said Commander Yorrek. "My concern is how quickly these foreign fighters can arrive. It is our understanding that Ulrek, even now, has mobilized his levies and marches against us. Let us say he marches from the Great Weald today, and that his army moves slowly as it likely will; we shall have - at best - a fortnight before Ulrek and his army reach our walls. Is it even possible that these warriors could be sent for, mobilized, and summoned within such a short period of time?"

Semiane frowned, "I'm afraid not." he admitted, "Though had I had an audience sooner then the capital would be bolstered."

Thinking, Semiane approached the window and looked out at the city rolling out before him. "Over the passed day I was working with the minor aristocracy and the wealthy tradesmen of the capital to procure protection for them and their families in these trying times. If nothing else once sell swords are found for these contracts they may be the first to arrive. It'd be a force numbering in the few thousands, and I don't know how much men Ulrek could furnish. At the very least so long as the capital is not fully blockaded it may be enough men to keep the capital safe."

He paused for a moment to consider, "Could the capital make any short term levees in the mean while? Ulrek will need to be held at bay for as long as its possible."

"I see no better option at this time than to summon levees from the citizenry," said Yorrek. "They will be a pathetic fighting force, but from the ramparts they will be able to throw stones and javelins down onto Ulrek's army if he attempts to take the walls, and in a pinch overwhelm any soldiers attempting to scale the walls with towers or ladder. It would be a desperate move to be sure that will unsettle the populace more than it already has."

"Hopefully, the simple sight of so many men on the walls will give Ulrek pause, allowing Master Semiane's contacts abroad to furnish professional soldiers. The populace will be unsettled, sure, but they will understand knowing the alternative is being ruled by Ulrek."

"Word is that a chariot ship arrived in the harbor a few nights ago," one of the palace guard thought aloud. "A merchant from the Orient, they say, with of those boats drawn by harnessed whales. They say they're the fastest things on the sea. Maybe if Master Semaine can take a ride on that boat, they can send out word in time to bring us help against Ulrek."

"If that's true, we must look into it and ask its captain if he can send word out to th-"

The chamberlain was interrupted as the door was abruptly thrown open. The sounds of combat rang out through from the atrium outside from behind a servant girl standing in the doorframe. In her hand was a wooden stake, and her eyes fixed upon the vampire prince laying unconscious upon the infirmary bed. At once, she sprinted across across the floor, shoving the nurse down out of the way as she brushed past Semiane and the chamberlain with the sharpened stake raised above her head.

"God wills it!" she screamed.

As soon what was happening became clear, it was too late. Those guards not occupied trying to keep the assailants out of the infirmary bolted to stop the servant girl, but were already several paces behind her as she approached the foot of Edward's bed.

"Stop her!" Yorrek roared, "Stop her!"

But the guards were too late as the maddened servant lunged toward Edward, her stake clasped in a vice-like fist, ready to plant it firmly into the vampire's heart.

But she never landed upon Edward's bed.

With a hateful shriek, Emily sprung from her bedside vigil and tackled the assassin mid-pounce. The stake was thrown from the servant's white-knuckled grip and clattered onto the stone tiles a few paces away from where the two women had tumbled onto the floor. Emily was on top, and despite the servant's frantic scratching and wriggling against her weight, Emily laid on top of the servant and managed to wrap her fingers around the girl's neck.

"You'll not touch my Edward, you bitch," Emily snarled, spittles of frothy saliva spraying from her lips as she spoke. Emily planted her thumbs firmly into Lillian's throat, pressing all of her weight upon her neck. Lillian kicked and wriggled furiously against Emily, but her thin body resulting from a short life of relatively poor nutrition was incapable of freeing herself from Emily's weight. The servant girl's face went from pale white to red and then to a swollen, unnatural purple against Emily's relentless grip. Lillian's kicking and squirming slowly died down into ineffectual quivers and convulsions. The servant girl's eyes rolled back into her head as she finally went limp.

The guards holding the door back against Yanick and his co-conspirators opened the door after the sound of fighting from the outside had ceased. The castle's guard had converged against the would-be assassins and skewered them against the barricaded door of the infirmary. The guards outside entered the infirmary cautiously and were stunned to see Edward Bathory unharmed, with Emily straddled over the body of the girl who had so nearly ended his life.

"Milady," Commander Yorrek said at last. "You've saved Prince Edward. You can let go of her now."

Emily's shoulders heaved and fell with each breath, a lock of her gray hair knocked loose in the struggle matted against her moisted brow and blew against her lips with each pant. Even now, she did not release her grip. After she was convinced the assailant had truly expired, Emily collapsed onto the floor in an exhausted torpor.
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Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Vampiretwilight
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Emily had jumped in front of Edward and such to protect him. to put it simply, she was injured. she was now being tended to in the medical wing now as well. her father was furious when he found out. but, they did not allow him to see her. the king threatened to take her away from there once she was recovered.

however, as he stormed off, something terrible would happen. Edward would not be able to prevent it.
someone on kanes' side, who thought of him as a vampire lover, would slaughter the human king as he made to leave the castle for a time. He now lay dead on the ground in a pool of blood. there were screams in the air.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by The Wyrm
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There are moments that all folk will be a part of, moments of pure terror, horror, pain, and passion. In those moments the folk who survive them were convinced that it would never end and that such times would lost till the ends of days. But what if something greater did come to pass?

What if, in that moment, as the people laboured beneath the yolk of the Vampire Princes, and all seemed lost, as darkness claimed the hopes and dreams of all men, there appeared a light. An end to the blackness. The hope of a new world to come. The hope of freedom, of justice, of redemption.

Those who remember that day will always say that the light was a man, a man of startling beauty, an angel. They remember the light that radiated from his very being and the thunder in his voice as he drove back the shadows. They remember the coming of Kane.

It began in small moments, like the guardsmen who gave their lives for a young maiden to hurl herself at Edward, Son of Zachaeus, Heir to the Kingdom. To those who lived in that moment there was nothing but confusion and dismay as men who had been friends, comrades, nay brothers-in-arms, turned on each other and fought until their blood stained the floors. And even when they had been pierced by a dozen cuts they fought on, their cries ringing throughout the halls. "God wills it!"

Those small moments began to come closer together. The Human King, father of Emily, The Girl Who Saved Edward, was among the first to realize it as he rode forth from the Vampire stronghold. Here and there he saw vicious skirmishes as soldiers turned on their comrades and the clash of steel sounded throughout the fortress. He rode to save his life.

The clatter of his horses hooves had been loud in the archway and they turned to a dull thud as he rode out onto the drawbridge. Two guardsmen were shoving a third into the moat and they watched with detached interest as he was dragged under instantly by the weight of his armour, his last screams of despair becoming nothing more than bubbles and silence. The King was still staring at the scene in horror when he felt the tip of a knife drive up under his armpit. He had a brief moment of time to stare in wonder at his own bodyguard, the mans eyes looked alive, a fierce joy dancing within.

"Go with god." The man whispered, and then died as the Kings remaining bodyguards dragged him from his horse and slaughtered him in the archway. He never screamed, nor even whimpered, but a smile remained on his face as he gazed skyward until they hacked his head off. The King died before they could carry him from the drawbridge.

Like tiny rocks that begin an avalanche, the chaos spread into the city. Soldiers, long used to patrolling quiet streets and a cowed populace, suddenly found themselves fighting desperately for their lives as roving mobs took to the streets.

"Kane! Kane! Kane!" The chant echoed throughout the cobblestones and Vampires died in their hundreds as the sun burst through the clouds and mobs stormed the palatial homes of the undead. Fires began to burn unchecked throughout the city as fire crews fought each other with axes and knives, never really knowing why.

Throughout it all, there was Kane, or so the people said. He was said to be twenty feet tall with great white wings and a voice like thunder. Hundreds sore they had seen him, had knelt with him, and been blessed by him. Some lied. Others did not. In the end, it did not matter, for in that moment chaos was consuming the city, and that chaos was Kane.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by gorgenmast
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The pre-dawn glow cast the sky a hazy orange, silhouetting the spires and walls of Castle Bathory against the brightening sky. The glow of the coming dawn was enough to obfuscate the fires caused by the chaos that had transpired that evening. From a distance, the Capital appeared surprisingly tranquil. But that tranquility, though it was but a false first impression, was to be shattered. A storm approached.

On the highway running due north of the capital, pebbles in the earthen ruts began to tremble as the very earth began to shake gently. Some time thereafter, came the sound of many tens of thousands of bootfalls stamping upon the ground. For nearly an hour, the sound rose over the hills of the Imperial Heartland until just before dawn, the vanguard of the Baron's army crested the hill. For several months, Ulrek's march upon Castle Bathory was speculated and feared by the House Bathory and those who served it. Now at last, the gathered armies of Ulrek Bathory, one of two remaining Vampire Princes, were within sight of the castle.

Perhaps, at this moment, sentries in the highest spires of Castle Bathory could see the extent of the Baron's army marching toward their walls. They were at least 50,000 strong, the largest army assembled since King Zachaeus had subjugated the Lands Under Shadow a millennium ago. At the front, just now cresting over the ridgeline of the hill north of the city, was a formation of shield-bearing yeomen clad in leather and chainmail. Their slow, heavy march set the pace for the rest of the army trailing a full league behind them. The core of this army was a vast rabble of peasants, flanked on either side by columns of horsed knights riding in loose wedges on either side. A baggage train of covered wagons stretched far to the north, as far as any observer in the watchtowers or spires could see. Among those wagons, one might make out a number of wagons bearing huge, metal objects pulled by numerous oxen. And near the front of the army, the innumerable throngs could be seen parting to make way for a small party of horsemen riding up to the very front of the army. Amidst the bannerbearers and knights and even at a great distance. one figure stood out among the thousands.

Seated upon an ashen gray horse was a being clad in exquisite platemail armor made entirely from silver. A cape of silver silk was draped over his shoulders. His helmet bore a masterfully-crafted facemask of silver; a somber, emotionless visage with gaunt, sunken cheeks. The mask's eyes were open wide, exposing only a two jet-black voids from whence the wearer would see out. Pthaalma rested in a scabbard resting upon his belt. Even as Ulrek rode past his own men, they could scarcely believe their eyes. A vampire wearing silver? How could that be possible? Was their Baron more than just a vampire, but a god? A devil?

Ulrek could hear their thoughts as he rode past. He paid their collective wonder little mind. Let the men think him some sort of demon - that they might be that much less inclined to quail and flee in battle if there was Hell to pay for deserting. Indeed, Ulrek had made grisly examples of those who failed to submit before the entire army to see. Local counts and mayors who remained loyal to Edward and would not name Ulrek as their rightful king, captured scouts, and even serfs who failed to surrender their stored food to Ulrek's foraging parties; they all met the same gruesome fate. With sharp knifes, they were skinned alive before being seated upon sharpened timbers or spears. Impaled through the buttocks and hoisted high above the camp or village, they served to remind any who saw the price of defying the Baron's will. Better to meet a quick demise at the end of a loyalist's sword than risk being added to Ulrek's collection of flayed skins.

The Baron and his mounted retinue came to a halt at the ridgeline. Ulrek raised his palm, signalling for the army to halt. Horn blasts sounded behind him, communicating the order throughout the vast host. He surveyed the city before him. In the center of this sprawling city was his ultimate destination: Castle Bathory. Through those black pits in his helmet, Ulrek stared up at the castle's spires and wondered if his brother might be staring back at him through some window in the citadel.

The first vermillion rays of the sun's light rose over the towers and ramparts of the eastern skyline of the city, casting Ulrek and his army in an orange glow. The sun's golden rays shone magnificently upon Ulrek's silver armor, but there was no indication that the Vampire Prince was experiencing any ill effect from the sunlight. Underneath his armor, the Baron was dressed in thick, black cloth. Nowhere did the sunlight penetrate to his skin. Even the veils over the helmet's eye apertures were sufficient to protect his view. Through squinted eyes, Ulrek watched a red dawn rise above the Capital.

"A red sky in the morning," noted a stubby and corpulent dwarf seated upon a Felmurg pony. Orrin Goutfoot, Dwarven Lord of Muin's Folk, rode up to Ulrek's side, watching as a red-orange sun gradually rose above the city, casting the eastern sky in a red haze. "It's said that a red sky in morning portends a storm."

"How fitting then," said Ulrek, "that a red dawn would herald my arrival."

"In the literal sense, Baron," reminded the dwarven lord, "a storm approaches. If it begins to rain, the firedust will become damp and won't take a spark. These cannons will not fire in the rain."

"Be calm, Lord Goutfoot, we shall fire your cannons upon these walls soon enough. I will wait for the storm to pass before firing upon the walls. For now, you should select firing positions. Allow my army to encircle the city and then go out and select the best vantage points from whence to fire."

"Your majesty," one of Ulrek's knights said, looking over the skyline of the city, "I see smoke. A lot of it."

"What of it?"

"I think something is amiss. Now that the sun has risen, I am seeing a great deal of smoke rising from the city."

"The capital is a large city," Ulrek dismissed. "Being from the Weald, you may not be accustomed to such things. But cities of this size have a great number of people all cooking and burning fuel. There are tanneries and such that produce smoke. It is typical."

"He's right," Kharald Halfbeard agreed, seated atop a stocky drafthorse. "You can't see through those veils in that helmet but I see it too. That much smoke is not typical. It's as if some of your men got inside the city already and started a number of fires. Did you send some spies ahead of us that might be responsible for such a thing?"

"No, I did no such thing, " Ulrek dismissed. "I did not commit any resources to any such-" At that moment, Ulrek thought back to his summoning of the vampire slayers and recalled one among those gathered: a vampire slayer immune to mind probing. He recalled the surprise and the fear he felt when his attempt to listen into that man's mind yielded only silence. The other vampire hunters, Ulrek concluded, were enough to dispatch the weaklings Rory and Matteas. Edward, however, would be too strong for a vampire slayer. They would be useful distractions while he assembled his armies. But Ulrek had not counted on a vampire slayer who could block his mind probe. Such a vampire slayer was dangerous. But perhaps even Ulrek had underestimated the danger he posed. Was it possible that this vampire slayer had beaten him to Edward? If so, Ulrek's quest for revenge would all be for naught. There was no time to waste laying siege to the city now. Ulrek would not allow his overzealous employee to steal his victory."

"Lord Goutfoot, take some of the knights to escort your cannons and position them wherever you see fit. If rain threatens, I will have my men fix tents above the cannons so that they do not get wet. Begin bombarding the walls as soon as you can."

"As you wish!" Orrin declared, wringing his stubby hands together with enthusiasm before turning his pony around to reach the cannon wagons.

"As for the rest of my men, they are to advance toward the walls, just beyond the range of bows to await a breach in the walls. Halfbeard is to position his company to ladder onto the ramparts on either side of any breach."

"Your majesty, with all respect due, this seems rather hasty," one of the knights cautioned. "The Broken Lander reavers have not even reached their harbor. We will not be able to properly besiege the city until they arrive."

"I will not allow justice to be stolen from me," Ulrek declared. "As soon as there is a hole in those walls, the attack begins."

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Vampiretwilight
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Edward was still recovering. But, he recovered quickly. He was sitting up. He was taking his bandages off, or trying to anyway, and do so in a hurry. He saw Emily in a bed nearby. He snarled. His eyes turned red. He vowed to make them all pay. There was a hidden power in Edward that his father had kept a secret. It wasn't believed to be strong, but if used under the correct circumstances, they could be at least on even ground with their enemies. It was not perfect, but he knew they had to try. They had to try something, anything, to stop his brother, as well as that hunter. He needed to save Emily, to save his kingdom and its' people.

Those monsters needed to be stopped once and for all...
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by gorgenmast
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Late morning brought with it a chilly wind from the west, blowing puffy white clouds quickly across the blue skies above the Imperial Heartland. The shadows of the clouds moving across the sky above set shadows rolling across the patchwork quilt of undulating cropland surrounding the Capital. The emerald-green leaves of tender springtime wheat billowed in rippling waves as the breeze blew across the land. Above the Capital, smoke billowed through the watchtowers and spires in quick, diffuse trails. Everything on the land seemed to be in motion and living, as if the very Earth trembled in anticipation of what was to come. Juxtaposed against all this motion, the army of Baron Ulrek Bathory was still.

Steel gray banners bearing the Baron's bat-winged sigil fluttered in the breeze above the gathered host, but the soldiers themselves were comparatively motionless. Over 50,000 men had gathered before the northern walls of the Capital in boxy formations stretching across the better part of a league. The first ranks were comprised of armored sargeants and yeomen who could afford their own arms; their shields painted either white, gray, or black, and sometimes adorned with crudely-painted bats. The ranks behind them were comprised of a vast multitude of peasant conscripts with mismatched weapons. Scattered among the levied hosts were small formations of mercenaries, all donning an impressive hodgepodge of armor and weaponry. Standing a full man's height over even the tallest soldiers in the army were the ogres procured by Kharald Halfbeard. They were bald, corpulent monstrosities, covered in calloused warts and wearing only tattered rags over their unmentionables. Leashed by two or three iron chains affixed to shackles around their necks, the ogres regarded the city before them with a bovine, thoughtless stare; their slackened jaws dripping with viscous spittles of slobber.

From a small, slightly higher hillock just behind the army, Ulrek Bathory sat in the saddle of his horse in the shade of an ancient wolf tree, surveying his forces and the city before them. Underneath his silvery mask, Ulrek watched as squadrons of mounted knights galloped around the foot of the Capital's walls, surveying the city's defensive fortifications. Ulrek glanced back behind him, watching as Lord Orrin Goutfoot and his dwarves positioned themselves on a ridgeline farther back beyond the army, where his beloved cannons were afforded the best firing positions and also well protected should Edward's forces attempt to sally forth.

Ulrek was watching the dwarves unlimber their massive bombards from the ox-drawn wagons when Kharald Halfbeard and some of his horsemen galloped up to the hillock where the vampire prince and his retinue were convened.

"I've rode around the entire city," the dwarf mercenary reported as he directed his horse beside Ulrek's, "and there's not a soul on the walls. I don't understand it. With an army of this size standing at their door, they should have every pressed every man and boy who can hold a bow or spear up onto those walls. But I don't see a one. Not on the ramparts, not in the towers, nowhere. I have no idea why they would be so grossly unprepared, but we ought to take advantage of it! I say we send ladders against the walls, before they realize their error and attempt to reinforce the ramparts."

"No," Ulrek refused. "They have known I would come for them for some time now. There is no way they would be so unprepared."

"You suspect a trap, then? Is that it?" Asked Halfbeard.

"Edward is hardly a tactician," said Ulrek. "Military affairs and history always bored my brother; he was always more interested in women than anything else. I suppose he thinks himself rather clever for devising this obvious ruse, thinking that I would be so enticed by the empty walls as to be lured into sending my forces into jaws of his hidden defenses. He is a fool to think that I would be so gullible."

"What would you have the men do then, Baron? Wait for some kind soul to open the gates for us?"

"Yes," Ulrek affirmed, ignoring the dwarf's sarcasm. "Lord Goutfoot shall open them. Tell him to fire his cannons as soon as they are ready."




From a balustraded balcony of one of Castle Bathory's towers, the chamberlain of Felboge Keep surveyed the Baron's massive army standing before the walls. Some 50 to 60 thousand men, stretching east to west almost as far as the eye could see. They were gathered some 400 paces away from the city's walls, just out of reach of even skilled archers. Little did Ulrek know that the entire rampart was even now totally unguarded, that a single man with a ladder could scale the city's wall, open the northern gates, and allow the entire army into the city.

The Madness, as the guard had called it, had overtaken the city during the night. Almost at once, the Capital's population had turned against the guards, ambushing them as they made their patrols through the city. At first, it was speculated to simply be a peasant revolt spurred on by the martial law imposed in preparation of Ulrek's siege. But as ambush survivors fell back to Castle Bathory throughout the night, their reports suggested an entirely different phenomenon. Soldiers who had reached the safety of the castle recounted the paupers charging at them from the alleys and tenements, wielding cutlery, pitchforks, sharpened spades, and anything else they could find. Armored guards were butchered in the streets by ferocious mobs comprised of women, elderly, and boys. Their eyes were wide with lunatic fury, and their attacks were preceded by the same battlecry: God wills it!

Thanks to the bravery of the guard, Prince Edward and the Castle were secure. Enraged paupers had attacked the castle's gates and walls a few times during the night, but were held back. Though poorly armed, the Madness had imparted tremendous savagery and bravery to those afflicted. The guards had to fight ferociously to keep the enraged citizens at bay and there were casualties, most notably Emily's father. The guards were already spent, even before the Baron and his tremendous army had arrived. To say the situation was dire was an understatement.

Commander Yorrek stepped out onto the balcony behind the chamberlain, looking over his shoulder at the Baron's army gathered below.

"So the Baron has arrived at last," remarked Yorrek. "We cannot defend the city's walls, but let Ulrek have them. We'll waste no blood protecting this traitorous city. What matters is that the Castle is secure and our stores filled to the brim in anticipation of his assault. His army will run out of food long before we do, and we have 4,000 of the Guard's finest protecting these walls. We will fight to the last man to protect our rightful King Edward."

"Ulrek will not wait to starve us out," said the chamberlain soberly. "Ulrek is a vicious master. He will order his men to fight to the last man as well. And even if every single one of your soldiers kills a dozen men, it won't be enough. Just look at his army. They even managed to procure ogres."

Yorrek looked out over the Baron's vast army for a few moments.

"I have seen it. Hey may have ogres. He may have knights and horses and a great multitude of levies. But you know what I don't see? No trebuchets. No mangonels. Not even a scorpion to be seen among the lot of them. He has no siege engines that I recognize. As far as I can tell, he intends to ladder over the walls. He'll manage fine over the city's walls but his men will mutiny when they see the losses we shall inflict when they try to ladder into the castle. Give me a pot of boiling oil and I'll have even those terrible ogres fleeing like whipped dogs."

Before the chamberlain could respond, his attention went to a cloud of white smoke that had erupted into being on the ridgeline behind Ulrek's army. Another one appeared, brought into being from an explosion of fire trumpeting out of the muzzle of a huge iron tube. One after the other. And then came the sound, like rolling peals of thunder. Dust and pulverized rock erupted from behind the city's walls as the projectiles crashed into the walls with a crunching thud. One projectile missed the city's walls and flew well over the city, whistling past Commander Yorrek and the chamberlain before plunging down into one of the city's southern neighborhoods, reducing a house into pulverized brick and splinters. Another projectile whistled past before crashing into a lower level of Castle Bathory. The castle shook beneath their feet. Broken stone tumbled away from the impact crater, but the castle still stood. As the volley concluded, a roaring cheer rose up from Ulrek's army, panicked shouts and screams could be heard from inside the Castle.

"C-cannons," Yorrek recognized, his face drained of color. "How did the Baron get cannons?"

"Edward and Emily are not safe here," the chamberlain declared. "Ulrek is going to take this castle. Go find Edward and tell him we are going to get him out of the city."

"I am not going to tell my King to abandon his throne because I cannot guarantee his safety. I will not advise surrender to the Baron."

"I suggested no such thing, Commander," the Chamberlain said over his shoulder as he made his way back inside. "Just gather Edward and Emily and tell them that they will need to leave the city for a time."

"Where are you going, then?" Yorrek asked.

"To find the court engineer or a sapper," replied the chamberlain, pausing for a moment to hear the start of a second volley from the cannons. "Ulrek is going to take this castle, but I'll see to it that he never leaves."
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Vampiretwilight
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Edward was by Emilys' bedside again. He looked to be covered in dirt. His clothes were a bit torn. He had a reason for looking that way. He had been practicing outside. He was trying to perfect his hidden power so that he would be able to use it, should the time come if he should need to use it. The rumors were that if this power were to be used against someone with the truest darkness in their hearts, the one with said darkness would vanish... forever. Edward wondered if the rumors were true. If they were, he knew his brother would he in trouble. But, at the moment, the power was not quite there yet.

He looked at Emily. He frowned. He had worry in his eyes. He was also quite afraid. She was still sleeping. She had yet to wake up. Edward kissed the top of her head, holding her hand. He had since been told to return to bed, as he had been caught outside. He had reluctantly done so but now stayed by Emilys' side. He rarely left it.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by The Wyrm
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"What are they doing?" Darrick Abel III, friend of the King, advisor to Mattias before his death, stepped up beside another Vampire, Jorin, who stood atop the gates into the Lords Quarter.

"Just staring..." Jorin sounded shaken as he gestured toward the mob of humans that had gathered at the foot of the great stairs that climbed upward to finest suburb in the Capital, its stately homes, mansions, and palaces, all rising and surrounding a hill across the city from the Citadel.

The humans were indeed doing nothing staring, but with a motionless and silence that unnerved the surviving Undead. The crowd had completely surrounded the Lords Quarter. Darrick had never really thought about how many humans there were in the Capital until they turned on their Undead overlords.

Darrick was about to turn away when a sudden ripple ran through the crowd. He was certain that they could not storm the walls which were almost as formidable as the Citadels and he could see no ladders nor siege weapons.

To his amazement they began to kneel, thousands of them dropping to the dirt and turning their gaze upon a man who now walked among them. They reached out to touch his feet and his jacket as he past, some wept, others cried out in joy: "Kane! Kane!"

He had heard the name of course as the city went mad and had expected the Vampire Hunter to appear eventually, he was infamous among his Undead prey.

"It is just a man." Jorin muttered next to him. "How can one Human inspire such devotion?"

"I don't know, and I don't intend to find out." Darrick replied. He assumed that some sort of challenge would be forth coming and it should be ignored. One on one the Vampire slayer would kill him, but the human could not hope to storm the walls alone.

Perhaps it was the Undead's inability to feel the presence of God, or their complete lack of contact with men of God, but none of them had truly understood the fever that gripped the city. Kane had come to help them understand.

"God wills it!" Kane had stopped within throwing distance of the wall and now he drew his sword, thrusting the blade into the air. In an instant light burst form his very being and mighty wings unfurled above his body, now clothed in shimmering white mail. Fire rippled up the sword blade from hilt to tip.

"Kill him!" Darrick screamed the words even as he threw back his arm to throw the spear he had been carrying. He was to slow.

Kane hit the gate at a run, the wood and steel shattering under the impact. The first Vampire to face him blew into dust as Gods chosen son drove a sword through his spine. To the humans watching time seemed to stand still as Gods will was done. Vampires became dust in a matter of minutes as Kane moved among them, sword in hand, his great wings sending up billowing dust clouds of Undead remains. That moment of time would forever be known as Kane Fury, the moment when the Vampires were reduced to legend.

A strong wind had come, driving the undead dust out over the moor, swirling about Kane even as he reverted to his normal form. He took a deep breath and smiled. There remained only two Undead to conquer. His fathers will be done indeed.

The mob had followed him onto the hilltop and now they crowded into the square that crowned the summit, filling windows, doorways, rooftops and balconies, all of them gazing enraptured upon Kane, on the son of God.

"Citizens!" He shouted, his voice booming over them all and filling them with a joy they would crave for the rest of their lives. "The Vampires have ruled for generations, taking from you whatever they wish, you coin, your children, your lives. The time has come to rise up, to join me, to join God, and together we shall remake this world. A better world!"

He looked about him as the crowd cheered, at the faces of the young and old, men, women, even some children. There was a hunger in them, a hunger to be free, and he would give them that freedom.

"The enemy is not yet vanquished!" The cheering subsided at once and the crowd tried to press closer. "Edward and Ulrek remain! The final bastard offspring of the Great Evil that once ruled here."

An animal like growl went through the crowd at the mention of the Vampire Princes.

"God has decreed that man shall be free! He has decreed that you shall live as you were meant to live! With your family safe from slavery, your nights free from the terror, your blood no longer someones elixir to live! You shall live as free people! As Children of God!"

The cheer that swept that hilltop echoed across the city and those within the high walls felt the power of it. A great storm was coming and only a few among them began to realize that Ulrek was but one of many enemies who beset Edward.

"Gather your weapons! Don whatever armour you can find! God wills it!"

"GOD WILLS IT!" The thunderous cry rose from thousands of throats and the mob streamed off the hill and back into the city. They would prepare for the coming of Ulreks army. Hiding in the houses, in the alleys, behind palace gates, in the tunnels beneath the city streets. Ulrek would come, and his army would die in the streets.

When Kane at last stood alone on the hilltop he turned to watch the first of Ulreks scouts appear on the horizon. The Vampire lord was taking no chances of an ambush but once his army entered the city, well, it would be a different story indeed.

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by gorgenmast
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The dwarven cannons had been firing without cessation for well over an hour, into the early afternoon. Each chest-compressing report echoed across the hills of the Heartland and off of the walls of the Capital, now severely degraded by the bombardment. Two hours ago, the northern rampart of the city had been a truly redoubtable fortification, standing some thirty feet high with crenelated battlements and anchored by guard towers with catapults atop. Now, after being struck by over a hundred cannonballs, the wall was crumbling in several places. Lord Goutfoot had focused the fire of his cannons on certain points in the wall, blasting the solid blocks of stone into sloping scree piles of rubble and sand. Stray cannonballs had even managed to topple one of the guard towers, rendering the catapult atop a twisted, splintered mass of wooden beams. There were now at least three breaches in the northern wall, and one was large enough to accommodate three men abreast or a single ogre.

Baron Ulrek surveyed the devastation from horseback as he and his entourage rode over to the dwarven batteries. The cannons were powerful weapons to be sure, battering some of the finest fortification in all the land to rubble in mere hours, and inflicting great damage to the city behind the walls. Columns of smoke billowed up from various fires throughout the capital, giving proof to the devastation caused by the dwarven guns. Destroying the city had not been Ulrek's intention; his quarrel had been with his Brother and Father, not their subjects. But knowing that the vampire slayer was within the city - working even now to kill Edward before Ulrek got a chance to exact his revenge - the Baron instructed Lord Goutfoot and his dwarves to fire as quickly as possible and not to waste any time taking precise aim at their targets. Some ruined tenement buildings and a few thousand slain cityfolk were tolerable collateral damage so long as Ulrek reached Edward first.

Ulrek found the Dwarven lord leading a battery of four bombards on a ridgeline overlooking the Baron's gathered army. Giant tubes of black cast-iron held at a low angle by huge beams of solid oak, the cannons sizzled and fumed from the unrelenting bombardment. Ulrek and his retinue watched briefly as the dwarves prepared the next volley. A team of dwarves packed linen bags of firedust down into the smoking aperture of the cannons before a heavy cannonball was rolled down onto the firedust charge. Another dwarf, holding a ramrod three times taller than he, would then hop up onto a stool fashioned out of a sawn half of a barrel and pack the charge down. While this was taking place, a pair of dwarves would scoop trowelfulls of a waxy, white cream from barrels positioned by the cannonball stacks and apply it to the cannons, smearing it all over the surface of the gun as the opaque cream was melted into a watery fluid by the residual heat of the cannon. The smell of cooked meat or bacon filled the air as the guns were lathered down.

"Hog lard," Lord Goutfoot explained proudly, noticing the Baron and his retinue at last. "Firing at this pace, the cannons need to be cooled down or the gun will expand from heat and cause the projectile to jam up inside, like a cork wedged down in a bottle of mead. Blew a cannon up that way once before. Sad business, that was," Goutfoot recalled with a frown. "But the lard cools it down enough to fire almost nonstop and gives it a nice waxy polish to boot. Does a good job of keeping the rust down."

"Ready!" Shouted a dwarf, followed shortly thereafter by the other three in charge of their respective cannons. The next volley was about to begin.

"Might want to cover your ears, Baron," Lord Goutfoot recommended as he fished two wads of cotton out of his breast pocket and packed it into his ears. "Wish I had when I was younger as I'm practically deaf nowadays... Fire!"

Torches went to the fuses of the cannons, which burned down into the breech with a menacing sizzle. The dwarves manning the guns ran back a considerable distance as the fuses burnt down, suggesting that they too had seen a cannon or two explode." Ulrek's knights, Kharald Halfbeard, and the other riders with the Baron put their palms over their ears, but vampire prince only watched through the frozen stare of his silver helmet.

A series of earth-shaking reports thundered across the land as the cannons fired, eliciting terrified neighing from the steeds of the Baron's retinue as a cloud of heavy blue smoke and fiery embers burst forth from the muzzle of the cannons. Moments later, the cannonballs impacted. One cannonball arced high over the city wall and pulverized a tannery smokestack before crashing into a shop or house. The other two impacted against the wall, knocking off several hundred pounds stone from the eroded northern wall that tumbled down in an avalanche into the rubble pile of one of the wall breaches. But one cannonball had missed dramatically, and impacted one of the spires of Castle Bathory. Even from this distance, Ulrek could see that shot had made a large hole in the spire's wall. The tower teetered and listed for a few moments before ultimately collapsing. A shower of bricks, rubble, and dust rained down from the collapsing spire onto the ramparts and courtyard of Castle Bathory. An enthusiastic cheer rose from Ulrek's army as the damage to the enemy's castle was witnessed.

"Sturin's Beard!" Exclaimed Lord Goutfoot. "We might've killed Edward with that one!"

"Stop this bombardment at once!" Ulrek snarled. The enthusiasm of Lord Goutfoot and the others instantly melted away in the face of the Baron's ire.

"Halfbeard," the Baron snapped at the dwarven mercenary commander, "there exist now several breaches in the city wall. Send your heaviest men and your ogres through the breaches and clear an entrance for the rest of the army. If there is no resistance, send men up to the gatehouse and have them open the gates. Lord Goutfoot and his cannons, accompanied by the horsed knights, will enter the city through the gate."

"As you command, Baron." The mercenary commander turned his horse around and galloped away to gather his men and storm the breaches.

"I did not anticipate that we would be taking part of the actual fighting inside the city," said Lord Goutfoot. "My understanding was that we would only fire upon the city from beyond the walls. My dwarves are not prepared to assist in the fighting."

"The gates and walls of Castle Bathory have yet to be breeched," reminded Ulrek. "I need your cannons to break the inner walls. And you must be more careful with your aim this time."

"No," Goutfoot refused. "The risk of the cannons being destroyed by the defenders is too great. I will not risk it."

"No harm shall come to your cannons," Ulrek assured. "And if they are, I shall double your payments, and you will be able to buy many more cannons for your collection to replace any that might be damaged."

Orrin Goutfoot's eyes widened at the prospect of adding even more cannons to his collection. Once again, Ulrek had successfully taken advantage of insatiable dwarven greed.

"As you wish, Baron Ulrek. We shall participate in the attack." Lord Goutfoot turned to his dwarves, and beckoned for them to pack their supplies onto the wagons once again. "Limber the guns up! We're following the Baron's men inside the city!"

As Ulrek turned his horse away to watch his army march toward the breaches in the capital's walls, one of his knights rode up beside him.

"Are you sure that is wise, your majesty?" Asked the knight. "You have already agreed to pay Lord Goutfoot a great fortune. And you want to double it? Pardon me, but are you not concerned about your ability to repay?"

"Not in the slightest," said Ulrek as the horns of his unhorsed sergeants resounded across the land. "I am a vampire. It may take me many mortal generations to repay these debts, but even a century is a short time indeed for one of my kind. The debts will be repaid surely enough, but my victory will be eternal and absolute."
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Vampiretwilight
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The castle shook. Debris was flying everywhere. Edward gasped. He had fallen to the ground. As luck would have it, the medical ward was one of the parts that remained standing. He felt blessed that Emily remained unharmed. He got out of that room, his wounds having finally healed enough to help his people properly, and he went to see what was going on.

The guards were in a somewhat-panic. They were gathering up, trying to get the many loyal civilians to safety, as well as to fight back and protect the castle. Edward went to the closest guard. He proceeded to immediately ask what was going on. The guard went on to explain the attack. A guard from the outside, now wounded and barely hanging on, had managed to tell them who was responsible, and what was going on out there.

of course, he soon heard rumors of what Kane had done.

A lone human, a traitor as they would be considered, was rushing to the castle as they spoke. This human was not the religious sort. He did not believe kane or the promises he made. He was making his way to the castle during the chaos. He wanted to help the vampires. He wanted the kingdom to return to its' former glory, to return to the way it was before.

Edward was pacing. He had come to a decision while taking amongst the guards and knights. Something had to be done. He had no choice but to call in many favors from the allies he and their father had made over the years, from the distant kingdoms that would normally stay out of it if not for kane or his brother being involved. He cleared his throat and shouted to the messengers.

"Send word to our allies immediately! If it is a fight they want then they shall have it! None of them will get away with what they have done! Kane and the traitor of our royal line shall both pay with their lives! Let us send them back to the twisted plane from which they came!"

The messengers all nodded excitedly and left in a hurry. They sent word out as soon as they could. Hawks and falcons were soon flying through the sky and those that could leave on foot or on horseback did so.

Edward turned to the others that were there, and saw their faces, heard the cheering. They would prepare for a quick and immediate coronation with only a few witnesses. They did not have much time.

Soon, the prince got word of Emily waking up. He would run to her side. Realizing how his heart was feeling, he knew he could not live without Emily, and knew he wanted to keep her safe on top of that. He planned to propose once that crown was upon his head.

Emily sat up slowly. She was groggy for a time. Soon enough, her head had cleared and she asked what was going on. She listened as Edward explained everything to her and tears formed in her eyes.

"We must wed at once. As your bride, I can have my own armies help you. You and your people will not be alone."

Edward blinked, both shocked and surprised. A tear rolled down his cheek. He had no idea what to say. He only nodded. He had planned to propose, but had not planned on her beating him to it.

Apparently, they had more in common than he thought.

Anyway, at the moment, they had something more important to focus on. Edward narrowed his eyes at the thought. One big thought entered his mind after that.

It was time to prepare his special power....
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by gorgenmast
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Commander Yorrek skirted around piles of freshly-fallen stone and debris on the ramparts of Castle Bathory as he surveyed the destruction from Ulrek's barrage. The last shot from the Baron's batteries had scored a devastating blow to the citadel, toppling one of the outer spires and sending a rain of rubble down onto the courtyard and walls. The rebels taken by the Madness had fallen back shortly after the collapse of the spire, affording the castle's guard a brief respite to tend to the casualties. Soldiers around him worked hastily to dig out their comrades buried under stone and rubble. Yorrek watched for a moment as a pair of guards yanked a dust-caked soldier out of a pile of crumbled bricks. His armor cuirass had been dented and beaten-in by falling brick, and a trickle of blood-tinged saliva oozed from the corner of his mouth. One of his comrades removed his helm and pressed two fingers just under his jaw.

"He lives!" Cried the soldier upon feeling a pulse under his fingers.

"Take him away for triage," Yorrek ordered. That made at least a score wounded and nearly as many men killed during the collapse of the spire. A mercy that the boy had not been killed, but Yorrek knew that he would be in no condition to defend the citadel. Against such numerous and merciless foes, the guard could scarcely afford to lose even a single man. And with the bodies already mounting, the odds of Castle Bathory surviving the siege were becoming increasingly slim.

"Clear this rubble away," Yorrek barked to another cluster of guards as he went along. "Sort out any heavy stones or bricks that can easily thrown and stack them up against the battlements. We'll want them as projectiles if they try to ladder up onto the walls. Throw everything else over the walls."

"Aye, sir." The soldiers replied. Brave, diligent soldiers; Yorrek knew that they would fight to the last man to defend their rightful sovereign. But steadfastness in the face of overwhelming odds would not be enough to change the nigh-certain outcome. Ulrek was going to take Castle Bathory and flay everyone inside, assuming the Madness-gripped rebels didn't storm the citadel first. The chamberlain had the right of it, the guard would not be enough to protect Edward and Emily.

Commander Yorrek followed the men taking the wounded up to the infirmary, following in the wake of the stretchers against the steady stream of soldiers streaming out of the guard towers and taking position on the ramparts. Dining parlors and guest suites of the castle were being used as makeshift infirmaries where those with less pressing injuries, or those with especially grievous wounds that would likely prove fatal, were taken. Badly wounded men who had a good chance of surviving - if given proper care - were being taken all the way up to the infirmary proper for intensive treatment. Yorrek followed the stretchers heading up to the true infirmary, knowing he would find Edward there beside his beloved Emily.

Everyone inside the castle was being pressed into the defensive efforts. Even the cooks were set to work; Yorrek watched the cooks haul two huge stew cauldrons out of the kitchen and down the corridor toward the stairs, followed by a number of guards and kitchenmaids rolling barrels of oil, water, and any other liquid on hand that could be cooked to a scalding boil and cast down off the ramparts on attackers. Servants gathered firewood from the countless fire hearths scattered throughout the castle to fuel the cooking fires with which to boil the vats of oil.

"There's no more wood!" One of the servants called out to his companions after rummaging through the ashes of a fireplace. "I've looked everywhere!"

"Well what about this?" Another servant asked, pulling a chair from one of the guest suites out into the corridor. It was exquisite chair of carved walnut, polished sleek and adorned with upholstered velveteen on the seat and backing. A fine piece of woodwork crafted to impress dignitaries staying at Castle Bathory; Yorrek guessed it to be worth a little more than what these servants earned in a year.

"Are you mad?" Asked one of the servants. "That chair must be worth a fortune. You can't seriously think to use it as fuel."

"Better to have it burn and contribute to the defense than to leave it for the Baron and his ilk to plunder," Yorrek chimed in as he walked past. "Use anything in this castle that will burn."

"You heard the commander!" Yorrek heard from behind him as he continued on toward the infirmary. "Let's get some hatchets and cut these chairs into manageable pieces, I'll start taking this wardrobe apart!"

Yorrek was greeted at the infirmary by a dozen groaning soldiers laying on stretchers just outside the doorway. Bloodied bandages were wrapped tight against many of their faces. These were the wounded with severe injuries that were not immediately life-threatening. They could afford to wait outside while the healers and nurses inside dealt with the more seriously injured. The Guard Commander regarded his wounded men with a somber grimace before entering the infirmary. Inside, there were dozens of healers and nurses tending to twice as many wounded men. The beds were all occupied now, and bedrolls, blankets, or whatever else to keep the glut of wounded men off the cold stone floor was employed to maximize the occupancy of the infirmary. Nurses with bloodied hands wrapped linen gauze over horrific head wounds, many of which were caused by falling brick and stone from the collapsed spire. Anguished shouts of pain mixed into a choir of agony as the healers worked fervently to save the dozens of wounded guards. Yorrek resolved to see that the Baron would be made to pay for all this bloodshed.

At the far end of the infirmary, surrounded by a contingent of honor guards, was Edward Bathory and his beloved Emily. Despite not feeling completely well yet, she had graciously given up her bed to a wounded crossbowman who had taken a falling brick squarely in the back and lost movement in his legs. Before the royal couple and their guard attache could leave the infirmary, Yorrek stopped them.

"Your majesty, the Baron's army has breached the city's fortifications, and he will be at the walls of Castle Bathory imminently." Yorrek drew closer, such that only Edward and Emily could hear him now. "The guard will fight to the last man to repel Ulrek's forces, but with his vast numbers and siege engines, there is no way that we will hold the walls. Fear not though, not all is lost. The chamberlain has a plan to destroy the Baron and the remainder of his army, but the castle will be destroyed in the process, and so we must take you and Emily of the castle."




"Those ones, these.... and then lastly this one," a white-bearded dwarf with thick-rimmed goggles said, peering up from a roll of parchment bearing detailed blueprints of Castle Bathory. "These are the primary load-bearing columns. Take those out, and the main tower collapses under its own weight. The rest of the castle will collapse with it."

The Chamberlain surveyed the cavernous undercroft of the castle, craning his neck up at the vaulted ceiling high above him, held up by row after row of thick stone columns, each one bearing thousands of tons of rock and castle and men. If they failed, Castle Bathory would collapse under its own weight, destroying everything within. If that happened with the Baron and his men inside the castle, Ulrek's war would be over.

"Well, you lot heard the engineer," said the chamberlain, turning to the two dozen or so servants he was able to muster together for this task, each armed with chisels, pickaxes, and prybars. "Let's tear these columns out."

"And bring the whole goddamn castle down on our heads?" Asked an incredulous servant. "No thank you, sirrah!" The other servants grumbled in agreement.

"If I wanted to kill myself, I'd just throw myself over the walls and not waste my final hours doing backbreaking labor."

"Make no mistake," said the chamberlain, trying to settle his disgruntled team of unwilling sappers. "I served under Baron Ulrek Bathory for many years. If we do not accomplish this task, then I assure you that the Baron will flay every single one of us alive. To die down here, toiling to bring ruin and death down upon the usurper would be a mercy. Better still, you need not die down here. The engineer said that the castle will only collapse once this final column is destroyed. I assure you, the castle shall not fall until this column is taken out. Demolish the others, but leave only this column. Only one man is needed to deliver the finishing blows against it, the rest of the party may escape with his Majesty after their work is done."

"Fair enough. But one man has to stay to finish the job though," one of the servants noted. "Who's the poor bastard that gets stuck with that detail?"

"I will," replied the chamberlain. "I want to be the one that ends that miserable beast, even if I have to die to see it happen."




With the clattering of heavy chains, the gates of the city drew open before Ulrek Bathory. Crossbow-armed mercenaries peered down from the gatehouse, giving proof that his forces had control of the gate. A solid door of mammoth timbers reinforced with a lattice of iron beams lifted up into a recess in the archway above. Ulrek, mounted and plated head-to-toe in silver armor, rode at the very front of the massive army waiting to enter through the gate into the capital. With a soft rumble high above, the gate stopped opening. With a kick to the haunches of his steed, Ulrek led his army through the gateway. Dwarf mercenaries peered through the murderholes in the gateway to watch the vampire prince lead the largest army these lands had seen in hundreds of years through the gates and into the annals of history. Ulrek rode at a canter, followed immediately by his mounted knights and mercenary horsemen. The slobbering, leashed ogres followed directly behind the Baron's retinue, followed directly by the unhorsed mercenaries that hadn't entered through the breaches, and they were followed in turn by the Baron's vast force of conscripts.

As Ulrek rode down the main thoroughfare of the capital, the mercenary capitain Kharald Halfbeard galloped up to him from a side street and rendezvoused with the vampire prince.

"There was no one on the walls, Baron. There's no one on the streets. No one in the houses or shops we searched. It's as if they evacuated the entire city," Halfbeard reported. "I've been in a siege or two in my day, but I have never seen anything like this."

"It would seem they've evacuated the northern wards of the city to around the harbor and other districts," Ulrek guessed. "It is fortunate. I would prefer to minimize causalities to the serfs, that their taxes may repay my debts that much sooner. If your men encounter anyone in the city, leave them and their belongings in peace. My quarrel is with my Edward and those who fight for him."

"As you wish, Baron. But I can see our enemy has at least a little fight in them," Halfbeard gestured to citadel at the far end of the thoroughfare in the center of the city. The red silken banners of King Zacchaeus fluttered defiantly in the tempestuous skies above Castle Bathory. Between the guard towers and battlements of the citadel, the ramparts could be seen teeming with guards. The battle for the future of the Empire Under Shadow would be fought on the very walls of Castle Bathory.

"We shall test their resolve shortly," said Ulrek. "Once Goutfoot and his cannons are within the walls, have him take position and take careful aim at their walls and gatehouse. It is imperative that the castle remain standing. But once inside the walls, spare no mortal man. The soldiers may do as they wish with whatever plunder and noncombatants are within the citadel."

"As you wish, Baron," the dwarf captain affirmed.

"But Edward must not be harmed," Ulrek added. "Not by anyone but me."
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Edward, crown upon his head, turned to look at the guard. He had an arm around his new bride as he looked at Yorrek. He frowned, as did Emily. Emily looked at Edward with a saddened look in her eyes.

"your' home..."
Emily started to say something with a sad voice, but Edward held up a hand to cut her off. He held a gentle look in her eyes as he looked at her when he did so. He turned to look at Yorrek again. He sighed and nodded.

"I understand. Castles can be rebuilt. The kingdom, the citizens, however, can not. The baron must be stopped at all costs."
Edward had stopped addressing him as his brother, as he was no longer family to him. Edward took a breath.

"I have been training with my 'secret talent'."
Edward whispered to the guard.
"Hopefully it will not come to that, but if I end up having to face the baron myself, one on one, then it may have to be used. He can not be allowed to breathe the same air as us for much longer, not as long as he remains as he is now."

Edward sighed and closed his eyes. His heart sank in his chest at the thought. Emily did her best to be of comfort to her king.

They would follow Yorrek out of the castle when the time was right.
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Kane stood in the shadow of a tower doorway, watching as Ulrek rode to speak with his Dwarven gunners. The Vampire was armoured head to toe in silver, something worth noting when it came time to destroy him. It seemed the wily old Vampire had managed to conquer at least one of his races greatest weaknesses. No matter, they had more.

A salvo crashed out from the hilltop and Kane watched the heavy stone balls hurtle through the air before slamming into the city. Two struck the walls but a third tore through a spire high above the citadel and Kane watched with interest as it collapsed, crashing into the main castle beneath. He felt a moment of anxiety as he thought it might finish off Edward but when the Vampires essence did not fade he smiled to himself. He would kill both Ulrek and Edward. His father had willed it.

There was a short discussion between Ulrek the Dwarven commander that was clearly resolved in the Dwarves favour as the bearded gunner began to yell at his gunners. The cannons in the midst of loading were quickly unloaded and the guns levered back onto their wagons before oxen were harnessed to them. Scouts rode toward the walls and the hills were suddenly alive with Ulreks forces as they swarmed toward the wall. It was time for Kane to go.

He retreated into the city, sheltering with some of his people beneath a brewery. It should have been impossible to hide thousands of people within any city but God moved in mysterious ways and the prayers of Kanes Chosen did not go ignored. Ulreks men were blind to the presence of the survivors and rode through the streets seeing only what they expected to see, empty streets and abandoned homes.

Even Ulrek himself, determined to crush his brother, rode without seeing the true state of the city. The damage was extensive and bodies lay everywhere, but not nearly enough to mark the demise of the entire populace.

"Father. I am your sword. Your shield. I serve you and your glory. Fill me with your fury. Let me be your weapon." Kane was praying out loud and the citizens who sheltered with him halted their own prayers to listen.

"Send me fire. Bestow upon the faithful your strength and courage."

In the distance, beyond the hills from which Ulrek had come, the sky began to flicker and crackle with a unearthly energy. The black clouds that usually obscured the Empire Under Shadow began to shred as a warm wind whipped across the land. The flags on the citadel began to snap violently, several tearing from their mountings and vanishing into the moor beyond. Dust and debris swirled in small tornados and clouds throughout the city, the small stones making a gentle rattling sound against the armour of Ulreks men as they rode through the streets. Birds burst from a thousand hiding places and streamed skyward, circling briefly before streaming away toward the west, their wingbeats taking them toward the brightening day.

The horizon appeared to burst into flame as sunlight tore through the cloud and illuminated the city in all of its shattered glory. The darkness, that had so long clung to the stones of the buildings and given the keep its sense of menace, was banished into memory. The shredding cloud rose in a great swirl, turning like a huge wheel above the city even as the red lightening snapped and roared above. The reddish sky turned the cloud the colour of fire until it appeared as though the entire city was crouched beneath a whirl pool of flame.

Kane could feel the fear now, the fear that radiated out from the castle and from the Barons forces. He had made his way above ground and watched from a high window as an army marched beneath him. He could see hasty glances thrown skyward, the pale faces tinged red by sky above. There was so much fear. He would release them of their fear.

The cannons were hurried into place, the Dwarves arguing among themselves as to the wisdom of remaining in the city but the lust for gold proved greater than their common sense. The narrow streets only allowed two guns to be sighted but it did not take long for those weapons to reduce the citadels main gate to ruin, toppling its proud towers into the moat and providing a bridge of broken stone straight into the heart of Edwards keep.

Kane could no longer see Ulrek but he felt the Vampires presence. The reckoning was almost upon them.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by gorgenmast
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Dwarven cannonballs whistled overhead, arcing over the gray banners of the Baron's retinue before impacting against the walls of Castle Bathory with a thunderous crash. Waiting in the middle of the main thoroughfare running through the city up to the citadel's northern gate were Ulrek Bathory and his knights, riding out at the very front of a massive army snaking through the main road all the way back to the city's gate. Within shouting distance of the citadel's walls, Ulrek and his retinue watched the cannonballs crash down. Dust and bits of stone scattered from the impacts and shouting could be heard from the battlements.

"Fill up that breach, men!"

"Give the Usurper another volley!"

Archers on the walls of the castle drew longbows and loosed a small volley of arrows at the Baron's army. Some forty or fifty arrows arced up into the sky and fell well short of Baron's forces, falling harmlessly upon the main road. The bodkins bounced and scattered across the cobblestones, with a few coming to a rest just a few paces from the hooves of Ulrek's horse. The vampire's armored mask fell to the ineffectual arrows at his feet, then back up to the walls of the Castle some two or three hundred yards ahead.

"Still too far!" An archer cried.

"Bastard's just out of arrow range! Save your arrows!"

Through the veiled eyes of his somber-faced mask, Ulrek scanned across the ramparts of the castle. The citadel's walls were thicker still than the already-redoubtable outer walls surrounding the city. Even so, Lord Goutfoot's guns had already punched a sizeable hole through the upper portion of a segment of the wall near the gate, leaving a scree pile at the base of the wall that ran up close to the breach. The defenders had no intention of surrendering this wall, and even now busied themselves piling heavy stones and rubble up into the hole to close up the breach. Edward's forces had congregated around the gate and the damaged segment of the wall in anticipation of the inevitable offensive through the breached walls, though archers and token forces could be seen all along the ramparts in order to deter attackers from using ladders to scale undefended sections of the citadel.

"Won't be long now," Kharald Halfbeard noted over the report of another round of shots from the cannons. "The defenders are making a worthy effort trying to plug up that breach, but without mortar it'll be easily dislodged. The ogres will break through easily and make a terrific mess of the shield wall waiting for us on the other side. My men will follow them through and after that, this becomes a hunt for Edward in the castle. I'd advise sending men up to guard the high windows and the spires; we wouldn't want Edward trying to throw himself out of a window once he sees all is lost."

Ulkrek watched another pair of cannonballs impact. One cannonball sailed over the wall and crashed into the castle, punching a hole into the main tower of the citadel, the other found its mark against the wall and pulverized a battlement and the guards positioned behind it. An avalanche of bloodied rubble tumbled down into the scree pile.

"Goutfoot's aim leaves much to be desired," said Ulrek, noting the damage the last volley caused to the castle. "The moment you are able, begin the attack. I do not trust the Dwarf lord to leave the castle standing for much longer."

Before Kharald could respond, the wind kicked up again, sending the banners of Ulrek and his retinue into a furious flutter. As the wind tugged at the capes of Ulrek and his retinue, the knights' horses suddenly to whinny nervously. The knights looked around, trying to see what had startled their steeds, and then noticed yelling and shouting from the rear of their army.

"What's gotten into them?" Asked one of Ulrek's knights.

"GOD WILLS IT!"

Out of the side streets and alleys radiating out from the main road erupted a teeming and furious mob, immediately surrounding Ulrek and his knights. Halfbeard and the Baron's knights drew their swords and engaged the frenzied attackers, pouring out of tenements and shops and immediately charging headlong into the horsemen without any regard for their own well-being. Daggers, kitchen knives, sickles, sharpened trowels, and all other manner of improvised weapons flashed out from the hands of the attackers. Halfbeard and the knights could barely draw their swords before the mob was upon them. Unarmored and poorly armed and trained, the knights cut the peasants down easily enough. But their fearlessness and numbers were alarming. Ulrek watched an old woman armed with a sharpened fire iron charge through a pair of knights and thrust the iron into the chest of another knight's steed. The horse collapsed with a gurgling scream, sending the knight tumbling down onto the cobblestones. A wounded attacker, already bleeding out from a wound sustained by Halfbeard, crawled over to the unhorsed knight and plunged a fork down into his throat.

The same savagery was taking place all along the Baron's path through the city. Farther back, the yeomen and levies were taking the brunt of the assault. Every other shop or house was suddenly disgorging several enraged paupers, attacking the nearest soldier with such fervor and hatred. From the second and third floors of shops and tenements, burning furniture was cast out down onto the Baron's forces below. Even the infirm who could not fight participated by casting heavy objects down on the heads of soldiers from second story windows. The entire city had been turned against Ulrek. Pressing the paupers into such a spirited and effective ambush was incredible feat - a feat that Ulrek would have never imagined his brother being able to accomplish. Perhaps Edward was a more talented tactician that Ulrek had given him credit for. Or, as Ulrek was beginning to suspect, perhaps this counterattack was not the work of Edward Bathory.

"Your majesty, our levies are being overwhelmed! If we do not go back and support them, they will break!"

Ulrek looked back at his army winding out behind him. Savage fighting was occurring all throughout the city in a hundred ugly skirmishes along the main road. The fighting was intense, far more intense than untrained peasant levies could be expected to be subjected to and survive. The knight was not mistaken; the levies would soon rout if they weren't slaughtered outright first. But Castle Bathory, just two hundred yards ahead of him, was irresistible. Levies be damned, Ulrek would have his justice.

"Leave the levies," Ulrek ordered, drawing Pthaalma from its sheath. "Send the ogres and ladders and everything else against the castle walls at once."

"To the wall, men! To the wall!"

"Ladders boys!" Halfbeard shouted to his mercenaries. "Time to earn those golden vespers!"

A tide of mercenaries coursed around Ulrek's horsemen, crushing the hundred or so maddened citizens attacking the front of the army. With shields raised over their heads and wooden ladders in tow, they charged toward the walls of Castle Bathory. As the ogres lumbered up toward the walls and renewed arrowfire from the defenders rained down, Ulrek raised his sword and pointed it at the castle, directing his knights to charge after them.

The battle for control of the Lands Under Shadow had begun in earnest.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Vampiretwilight
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Edward prepared to leave the castle. He had servants gather whatever possessions of his that they could. But, they would only gather the most important items. They would do the same when it came to whatever items Emily had brought with her.

Emily would leave with Edward as soon as they were escorted out. Both Edward and Emily frowned. They both wanted to put an end to all this once and for all.

Things were beginning to become their most chaotic anything could ever be.
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by The Wyrm
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Ser Erik Tallboy, sworn knight of Baron Ulrek Bathroy, champion of a dozen tournaments, Lord of the Western Wastes, screamed into his visor as he stabbed frantically down into the open mouth of a peasant whose eyes were bulging from his face like something out of a nightmare.

"GOD WILLS IT!'

The battle cry came from every side and Tallboy watched in horror as three of his men-at-arms were simply buried beneath the weight of the dead, their horses tumbling into the melee so that peasants could drive blades through the gaps in expensive armour. His own horse was moving, constantly shifting its hooves, lashing out to break bone, even sinking its teeth into the shoulder of one peasant to shake the woman like a broken doll.

His own breathing was loud inside his helmet, a hollow panting noise, as he slashed down to separate a hand from an arm. The fear he felt when the peasant ignored the wound and continued to pound at his armoured leg with a bloodied stump was real. He could feel a warmth running down his legs and he knew it wasn't blood. He was terrified. He had never encountered any real fighting before, and never with a mob who showed no fear or pain.

He twitched his reins even as he beat down another of the mob, shattering the womans skull so that she sank to the ground with a strange mewing sound. His horse seemed sluggish however and he twisted to look over his shoulder. The narrow view of his visor allowed him just enough of a view to see a pair of peasants hacking at his horses hamstring with wicked knives. Already the beast was beginning to sag and kick in pain.

Tallboy frantically kicked his feet free of the stirrups and dropped to the cobblestone. He landed awkwardly on a body and felt his ankle give a nasty click before pain shot up his hip and he staggered. It was enough for blood stained blacksmith who stepped forward and drove his mace down onto the knights head.
* * * *


The knights helmet gave a satisfying crunch as Devon stove it in with the mace he had made only a year before, possibly to sell to this same knight. He turned away from the downed man and looked for another enemy. Part of him knew he should be terrified, that he should run away. But the memory of Kane, glided in white armour, the power of God blazing in one hand, served to fill him with further zeal.

There was a roaring sound in his head. It could have been his own voice. He didn't know. He gave cry once again and stepped past the dying knight to slam his mace at another mounted man. The heavy head was turned aside by a well placed shield and Devon gave a cry of frustration before trying to smash the wood apart once again.

This time the knights sword deflected the blow and Devon felt the blade whisper down the side of his face. Pain shot tore through his skull, or it might have if he was normal Devon. The loss of his ear did nothing to slow his next blow as he hammered the mace past the shield and sword, smashing the blunt head into the saddle. The cantle shattered and he smiled in satisfaction just long enough for the knight to kick him in the jaw and send him staggering backward.

The feel of pain was distant in his brain and he ignored it as he raised the mace, preparing to throw himself on the knight once more. A heavy blow struck him in the back and he staggered forward a pace, noting with an almost detached interest the several inches of pike head that had appeared out of the front of his chest. He coughed and blood spilled over his lips as he crashed forward into the bloodied street.
* * * *


Gord ripped the pike out of the back of the dying peasant, pausing long enough to stomp on the mans skull to keep him down before driving the pike into the chest of a frail old man who was busy biting the throat of a warhorse. The man looked almost comically surprised before collapsing beneath the horse.

The pikeman ignored the shouted thanks of the knight and hunted after another peasant. This one was a pretty little thing, perhaps fifteen years old. She was stark naked and blood ran in rivulets down her breast and thighs. He could see where she had already taken a wound to her leg but she seemed oblivious to it as she watched him come.

She smiled at him, a coy look, her eyes regarding him playfully beneath jet black lashes. It was enough to make him pause. In a world where most women looked like they'd been kicked in the face by a horse, this little beauty was something else. Perhaps it was why she had lived so long. Amazing what a pretty face did for you.

Gord's thoughts were rudely interrupted as the smile turned into a feral scream. She had somehow gotten close to him and now drove a dagger into his groin. He felt pain blossom as she twisted the blade, still screaming in his face. He gave a sort of hiccup sound as he sank toward the ground, hands clutching at hers, trying to pull the blade free. Still she twisted and laughed in his face.

She was still laughing and twisting when his eyes closed for the final time.
* * * *


She stood, the small knife clutched in one hand, the other pushing back the blood slicked hair from her face. Before Kane had come, Beth had been a whore. Someones whore. A man who had forced himself upon her when she was a child, tearing her insides and leaving her broken on the floor. He had come back again later. And then again. Violating all of her orifices. Then when she had no more fight left in her, he sold her to other men.

The coming of Kane had filled her with righteous vengeance. She had known it was permitted to take revenge and so, when the city went mad, she killed them all. The men who had raped her. She would never be able to remove the stink of their bodies nor the taste in her mouth, but she was able to remove their manhood.

Now she metted out the same to the dying pikeman. Slicing his balls off and hurling them at the horrified knight. She could see his eyes wide behind his visor and she gave an open mouthed laugh before ducking beneath his sword and stabbing his horse in the gut. The beast gave a horrible scream and kicked out. The blow struck her full in the chest and she was thrown into a nearby wall. She felt her back crack and could feel the pain in her chest immediately. She tried to claw her way back to her feet, her wicked little knife reaching for the knight. But her strength was gone and she sank to the cobblestone, aware for the first time how cold it was to the touch.
* * * *


Ser Vinicus managed to get clear of his downed horse and he frantically looked around for the girl who had run beneath him. He had watched her slaughter the pikeman and was determined that no such thing would happen to him. He finally caught sight of her slumped against a nearby wall, her chest caved in, her beautiful breasts destroyed.

He didn't have time to think further on the subject as someone slammed into his shield. He hacked down without thinking and a small boy, no more than nine, teetered away with half a shoulder missing. This was madness.

All around him the street had broken into a thousand individual brawls. Men at arms struggled with enraged peasants who died in twos and threes, holding the knights weapons in their own flesh so that others could bring down the more heavily armoured enemy. One small knot of men-at-arms had managed to get their backs to the wall of a nearby house and were fending off the horde with expert lunges. A dozen men, with three others behind them, taking turns in the wall. Even the mindless mob was starting to grow wary of them.

Vinicus began to cut his way toward them. He smashed his shield into the face of cobbler, stomping on the mans throat to keep him down. He took the hand of a tailor, the nose and lower jaw of a baker, all of them requiring at least two blows to finish. The men-at-arms had seen him and were shouting at him to make a run for it, a small gap opening to allow him access. Safety was but three strides away.

Then Kane came. Vinicus did not know how he knew the mans name but the instant the white clad figure appeared, he knew. The peasants around him gave a moan of ecstasy, almost like Kane was to much for their eyes and began to chant his name.

"Kane! Kane! Kane!"

The men-at-arms quickly relocked their shields, one of them managing to spare Vinicus an apologetic look. It turned out, he would have been no safer behind those shields than he was in the middle of the street. Kane struck the wall like a storm and Vinicus watched as fully armoured men-at-arms sailed through the air. Kane never even drew the sword at his side as he tossed men like leaves before a storm.

Vinicus was still staring in abject horror when a stone block thrown from a roof above caved in his skull and the world went black.
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Hidden 28 days ago 28 days ago Post by gorgenmast
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A dull roar of frantic shouting outside the citadel's walls gave proof that the Baron had begun the attack on Castle Bathory itself. The battle for the future of the Lands Under Shadow was now underway. The valiant Guard would give their last breath to repel Ulrek Bathory and his hordes, bravely sacrificing their lives to the last man to buy the Chamberlain and his sappers time to destroy the supporting pillars in the undercroft in order to bring the castle crumbling down upon Ulrek's head. The Royal Guard would be the heroes of Ulrek's War, their valor and skill at arms the subject of songs of minstrels and troubadours for ages to come.

And while the Guard prepared for its last bloody stand, Guard Commander Yorrek looked on as servants gathered Princess Emily's belongings in preparation of the escape from the Castle. Under his vigil, the servants packed her dresses, scrolls, and books into small crates to be taken with the princess. With the royal couple and the few worldly possessions they could take with them, Yorrek and a cohort of the Guard's most seasoned and capable fighters would descend into the citadel's undercroft and then further still into the castle's sewage tunnel. There they would follow the subterranean stream of filth out from the castle, far below Ulrek's hosts and the Madness-gripped citizenry occupying the city, and emerge from a narrow crag near the city's harbor. There, they would buy passage aboard a vessel from the harbor - or commandeer one, if necessary - and sail far away from these lands and wait out Ulrek's inevitable defeat. King Edward would come out victorious, and that was all that mattered. But who would be the heroes of this war? Certainly the Royal Guard who stayed to defend Castle Bathory and the Chamberlain who gave his life to end Ulrek's.

But what of their Guard Commander? Yorrek thought.

How would history remember the Commander who orchestrated such a defense? Perhaps future historians would pen him as the imbecile who allowed the Usurper to gather a tremendous host and march on the centuries-old home of House Bathory, who allowed assassins to roam the castle and murder his King and very-nearly murder the crown prince. And when Ulrek's armies reached the citadel's walls, perhaps those chroniclers would note that that same commander fled with the Royal Couple to some foreign shore while his soldiers fought and died to deny Ulrek Bathory his father's throne.

Yorrek's fingers rapped against the pommel of his sheathed sword as he watched the servants pack Emily's belongings for the journey.

"Will you clumsy lot hurry up already?! Good men are dying out there on the ramparts," Yorrek snarled, pointing out the window of Emily's suite. "The least you could do is move lively!"

"We've been here for less than five minutes! We are going as quickly as we can but be reasonable!" Pleaded a servant woman, pale and wide-eyed with fear.

Yorrek gave an exasperated sigh and excused himself from Emily's suite. Out in the corridor, a steady stream of guards and servants were making their way out toward the courtyard in preparation for the defense. Everyone inside the castle, soldier or not, had been pressed into the defense in some fashion or another. Any man strong enough to wield a spear was now part of the defense. Nearly all of these new conscripts were volunteers; everyone within Castle Bathory knew that the Baron was notoriously cruel to his prisoners. Better to die fighting than to be captured and flayed alive.

The castle gongfarmers made their way past Yorrek down to the walls, all carrying a heavy iron kettle to be used to boil grease. Even the gongfarmers, those with the most humble and lowliest duties in the castle, were prepared to sacrifice everything to defend their sovereign and his home. And where would Commander Yorrek of the Royal Guard, Castle Bathory's most senior and powerful commander after Prince Edward, be when those brave servants gave their lives for Edward? Sailing away with the royal couple to some distant land, far removed from the impending slaughter.

"Make way! Make way!" Yorrek heard from somewhere down the corridor. The stream of defenders heading down to the courtyard parted for a cohort of honor guards clad in ceremonial plate armor and donning flowing robes dyed the brilliant crimson of King Zachaeus. Behind them were Prince Edward and Princess Emily, followed by a few more guards and a gaggle of crate-bearing servants. Edward and the guards came at Emily's suite and approached Yorrek.

"Commander, the Prince has his belongings gathered and is ready to leave," one of the guards reported. "Once Emily's possessions are boxed up, we will be ready to depart."

"All ready, milord!" The servant girl declared as if on cue, poking her head through the doorway.

"Excellent timing," said the royal guard. "Lead the way, Commander."

A deep, guttural roar could be heard outside the window of Emily's suite, widening the eyes of the servants and some of the guards. The Baron's ogres had been unleashed at last; Yorrek knew a grisly fate awaited any of his soldiers who faced those monstrosities. The thought of his men being torn to shreds by the Baron's assembled horrors stayed Yorrek's feet, even as the servants and guards began their trek to the undercroft.

"Commander?" The guard repeated anxiously, stopping the royal procession when he saw that their commander was not coming with.

"Captain Bartolomue," said Yorrek, "You know the way as well as I, do you not?"

"Y-yes, Commander," the guard stuttered. "Down through the kitchen cellar into the undercroft, then into the sewer tunnel from the southern storeroom, out into the harbor."

"Good," said Yorrek. "Bartolomue, I will be staying behind, and I don't expect that I will live to see your return, and so I'm naming you Commander of the Royal Guard."

"Yorrek the Castle is lost," said Bartolomue. "It is noble of you to stay behind and lead the defense. But the truth is that you are the greatest fighter in all of the Guard. Edward and Emily need you to protect them on their way to the harbor."

"You lot are capable fighters. Edward too is a force to be reckoned with. You will prove more than a match for any Madness-gripped lunatics."

"Yorrek, you do not have to-"

"History is going to remember me as the fool who allowed this catastrophe to occur. But I want posterity to know that at the least, I did my part to resolve it. Please, Commander," Yorrek pleaded, "let me redeem myself in the eyes of posterity. Let me have this."

Bartolomue's gaze sank to the floor. The shouting of soldiers and bellowing of ogres outside the walls carried on the breeze through the suite's window. After a moment of silence, Bartolomue placed his hand on Yorrek's pauldron.

"As you wish. Goodbye, Yorrek."

Yorrek gave Bartolomue a thankful nod and approached Edward and Emily.

"My Prince, and my Princess," said Yorrek, "With Commander Bartolomue, you and your house are in safe hands. I hope that the current calamity is but a brief footnote in your long and glorious reign. Let history forget the Baron and his war, but do remember the brave men who fought and died to secure your reign. Goodbye, Edward. Goodbye, Emily."

"Now go," said Yorrek. "We will hold the Baron's hordes as long as we can. But it is a long trek to the harbor. Make haste."

With that, Edward, Emily, and their guards and servants pressed on down the corridor toward the undercroft. As the procession of guards and servants went past, Yorrek halted one of the guards bearing a crossbow at the rear of the royal retinue.

"Your bow, please. And your bolts," commanded Yorrek.

"As you wish," the guard said without hesitation, removing the crossbow from the sling on his back and placing it in Yorrek's hands. Yorrek slung the bow over his back and drew his sword from its scabbard, and began hastily whittling off the iron heads of the bolts, leaving only a sharpened point of wood at the tip of the bolt.

"Yorrek," asked the guard bowman with raised brows, "what exactly are you doing?"

"Turning these bolts into stakes," Yorrek said as he placed the first tipless arrow back into the quiver. "If I see Ulrek in the fighting, I have no intention of squandering the opportunity."
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Hidden 28 days ago Post by The Wyrm
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The Wyrm

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Ser Vinicus tried to move his hand. He could see it, just in front of his face, and he screamed at his fingers to move but they ignored him. Nor did his scream make any noise. He was dimly aware of a tremendous ache throughout his body. Even blinking seemed hurt. He couldn't even feel the blood that was trickling into his left eye. He was dying.

Still, he supposed, it could have been worse. The battle raged on around him and he watched, unmoving, as a young boy attacked a swordsman, jumping onto the mans back and tugging on his helmet. It would not move, though the boy succeeded in blinding the swordsman long enough for another child to drive a sharpened stake into the mans thigh. He gave a roar of anger and hammered his sword down, the pommel destroying the childs eye. A second blow, to the base of the childs skull, killed the boy as neatly as a butcher killing a steer.

The other boy, still clinging to the swordsmans back managed to haul himself further up the armoured back, and with a snarl that reminded Vinicus of his small terrier back home, sank his teeth into the mans ear. The two of them staggered out of Vinicus's view. He blinked once more. His eyes were so heavy. He just wanted to sleep.

His eyes closed for a final time and the sounds of battle faded to nothing. So this was death. A black, soundless, nothingness. It didn't seem so bad. He had time to think of his family, his wife and four children, all of them still standing on the stoop of his manor house, waving as he rode away. All but his wife. She had not waved. She had only cried. She had know how this would end.

"You will see them again, Vinicus." The words startled him so badly that he dragged his eyes open again. In that instant he realized that he was looking down at himself. His body was twisted in the middle of the street, surrounded on all sides by shapeless figures that struggled with each other. He could see the great wound on the back of his head where the stone had struck him, the jagged and torn metal of his helmet, the red blood and the grey brain matter that oozed out onto the street.

"Strange, is it not?" The voice again and Vinicus quite suddenly found himself facing a man all in white. It was not Kane. No, the man was smaller, thinner somehow. The two huge wings that sprouted from his back left no doubt as to what he was.

"You're an... Angel..." Vinicus was surprised to find he could speak. The angel nodded and walked slowly among the shapes that reeled and twisted, almost like shadows in a fog.

"I am Eremiel." The voice was so soothing, almost musical, that Vinicus could not help but smile at the angel. It never occurred to him just how strange that might be as he stood next to his own corpse. "I am charged with guiding the holy deceased when they fall in battle."

"The Holy... But I served Ulrek." Vinicus spoke without thinking and instantly regretted it. The ancient stories of God, of heaven and hell, were coming back to him, and he knew he had just consigned himself to eternal damnation.

"You, and many others. But the real question, my friend, will you repent your service to him?" The angel was standing directly in front of Vinicus who suddenly realized just how much taller Eremiel was.

"I did what I had to. For myself, for my family." He stated flatly. That was no lie. One could not survive and prosper in the Lands Under Shadow without serving the Vampire lords in some manner.

"And now? With Gods wrath unleashed upon this world and the victory of his chosen son nigh at hand?"

"I would still do whatever I had to do to protect my family. I have been a kind man, and I have always treated those around me as I would wish to be treated."

Eremiels face split into a small smile that seemed to light up everything around him and Vinicus felt his own heart surge with a joy he had never known before. He was suddenly aware that he was rising, rising toward a bright light that shone down from above. Emeriel watched him go and then gave a small bow before turning away.

"Welcome home, my son." The voice came from above and Vinicus raised his face toward the light.
* * * * *


Kane walked among the dead and dying, his footfalls making no sound, his wings casting no shadows. Here and there a man or woman wept while others screamed for their mothers, their wives, for the pain to end. There was no glory in war. There was only peace in death.

He could see them all, the souls of the dead, as they stared down in confusion at their own bodies, unable to leave, unable to do anything other than wait. Wait for the children of God. Kanes brother and sisters. They moved among the dead, speaking with them, judging them, sentencing them. Some, like the knight who had spoken with Emeriel were found to be pure of spirit and ascended to their father in heaven.

Others, however, were judged for their past actions and the thoughts that could be read like an open book by an angel. These souls were left tethered to their bodies, doomed to remain on the mortal plain for all of eternity, until the ends of days. They would watch the world around them wither and die. This city would be their tomb.
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