Hidden 1 mo 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 1 mo ago 1 mo 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 1 mo ago 1 mo 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 30 days 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 25 days 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 15 days 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 14 days 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 days ago 4 days 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 days ago 3 days 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 3 days 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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