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Sunday, 06 April 2008
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War of the Vampires Part 7&8
Page 2
The time has gone for words and peace. Alice's power has faltered and now she is unable to stop the inevitable conflict. Forces on both siodes gather behind their leaders banners. This war will be one of the greatest the Empire will ever see, and the fate of it all rests upon Alice, which side will she choose?

Alice felt the cold biting into her flesh, the countless insects joining in the assault. Alice wafted them away with her hand as she walked. The swamp stank; why the vampire had bought her here she would never know. On the plus side however, the vampire now had a name. She was a female, it seemed, but Alice could tell; only a woman could harbour such bitterness in her heart. The vampire’s name was Aláis, one of the few things that the two held in common, and the only attribute that the vampire had to call itself a human. She felt her foot sink below solid surface and cursed as she dragged it out of the boggy pool, sickening bubbles rising from the green liquid froth. She saw thick brambles up ahead and drew her sword; this forest was getting more fun by the minute. She hacked her way through in silence, the dead shrewd trees the only witnesses to her labour. A thick blanket of fog hung overhead, Alice raised her head to see a great black tower rising towards the stormy skies. She watched as lightening fell blow upon blow onto the great tower structure and was amazed that it kept standing. She felt the rain upon the air before it fell, an instant soaking through to her skin; because of this she felt no issue as the vampire compelled her towards the great spire.

The vampire once more had obedience from her body, the shock of betrayal and underlying hatred of being left by Shriken gave the beast a strong hold over her shocked and puzzled mind. She now relished in the manual tasks the vampire set out for her, savouring the precious moments her mind was lured away from difficult territory. She was only just beginning to come to terms with her loss, and she knew it would be several years before her heart let go of the man whom had fathered her. She approached the black tower now, its glossy stone walls rising like a fell tree from the ground. The fog seemed to linger about the tower like an overhanging moat, shrouding the gargoyles that stood guard over the high entrance. She was close enough now to make out the door, great and black, with a great iron trim, the two gargoyles on either side now given expression and charisma. The vampire once more took the lead of her body; she felt her body change at a more rapid pace, clearly something was about to happen. She stared in wonder as the two stone guardians raised their hands, and then cursed her own ignorance as she saw they were no gargoyles: great grey robes covered their bodies, fangs sticking out from behind their thick hoods. “Halt! Stranger!”
Aláis hissed at the orderly tone “You do not bar me passage into my domain!”
The two vampires exchanged glances in puzzlement before turning back to her, the one on the right spoke this time “This is the domain of Skayak, lord of the Drykwar house, he has ruled ever since the times o-”
“Since the time of my last departure, yes, I recall the challenge to see whom ruled next very well, even in my age”
The two vampires dropped to one knee in unison, their heads bowed and their hands in a queer gesture “Forgive us lady Aláis, we did not recognise you in this fog, please allow us to escort you to lord Skayak, I’m sure the two of you will have much to discuss.”
The great hall was crowded, several women held wine glasses to their lips, however the red liquid that swirled inside looked far too sinister to e anything but blood. The men spoke in quiet tones amongst themselves, few people noticed her, and only one turned his head. The two guards moved hastily to remove the residents from Aláis’ path. Alice gazed in amazement from the back of her mind: she has so much power; these people treat her as if she were a god. She took back the latter: she was a god. Aliáis smiled radiantly at the spectators, her fangs flashing a dazzling white. She moved with a caressing slowness that captivated everyone’s eye; the slow movements in support of her perfect slender body. Alice nearly chocked with laughter at the back of her mind: she was such a natural, heaven knows how she would cope had she taken the body of an uglier woman. The way before Aláis was clear; she could see a tall man gliding along the embroided carpet to meet her. The man wore elaborate red robes lined with a fine golden lace. A broad shoulder line and a high head told Alice that this must be the man the vampires’ referred to as Skayak. The man accepted her outstretched hand as they met, his cold dry lips brushing against her silky hand. A shiver went down her spine that could have only belonged to Aláis, clearly she didn’t relish the moment either, but her alter-ego smiled regardless. “Skayak, it has been too long”
The man’s face revealed a hurt spirit at the lack of formality and title; clearly he still sought the favour of his mistress, even after so many years. “Indeed it has,” he said, the moment of bitterness gone “Will you dine with me at the table?”
Aláis shook her head “No, I would however like your company for another matter” she began to lead him down the corridor as though he was the alleged guest “There are matters that the two of us must attend to.”
The room and its solemnest feel did nothing but damper her spirits. The lord stood with his arms folded, his face full of malice. Aláis stood a few feet off, preferring to remain a safe distance from the pawn that she was moving. “The foolish humans believe me dead” she smiled “And I would be if it weren’t for the intervention of our dear friend Shriken”
Skayak spat as he said “The man is a disgrace! A prison for one of our own, I swear it to you my queen, I will free your brother from the confines of that infernal cell!”
Aláis seemed startled by the vicious remark, though she was too controlled to show it. Alice knew the vampire feared this man, despite the loyalty he held for her “He will pay, lord Skayak, but now is not the time to make hollow threats”
Skayak’s face turned from fury to satisfaction “You have a plan?”
Aláis smiled in earnest “Yes, my dear old friend, I do.” She walked deeper into the tower chamber, past the great columns that divided each room. “There is a settlement that is in a far worse state than when I left it”
Skayak followed his mistress in silence, deep in thought and nodding as his mistress explained “And this place would happen to be the home of Shriken?”
Aláis flashed her white fangs “Yes, the very same” they had reached the map room now, a huge glyphic floor expanding before them. “I have stored memories of my time there, the vampire hunters have grown weak in my absence, now I have returned we must seize the advantage before they are allowed to mobilize”
Aláis stepped into the centre of the strange floor, only now did Alice see that it operated in a series of circles, twining outwards towards the walls and doors. Aláis climbed into the centre and Alice felt her begin a curious cycle in her mind. She bit her arm and began to summon vivid images of the city in her mind, they flashed by rapidly, each one flowing like the blood from her arm. The blood trickled down her sleeve to the ground; there it began to collect in the glyphs as it spread from circle to circle like a rapid infection. Aláis stepped back and Alice stared in awe.
She had heard stories as a child: about great vaults of memories that could be stored and passed on. Shriken had taught her this, only now that she stood before such a thing did she realise where he had learned that information. She had been nine. She wondered how long Shriken had been one of the vampires, whether he too had preyed on villages in times of hunger. Had he ever looked at her and thought: one day child, I will kill you? She shuddered at the thought and felt the vampire’s pleasure: curse her! Couldn’t she find one corner of her mind to have privacy? The vampire seemed to leave her be, its attention drawn to the image conjured in front of her.

It floated in front of them: a thin vapour that clung to the air. In this airy liquid was the home of Shriken, she saw everything that she had seen days ago, how had Aláis recalled all of this so perfectly? “Ok. Skayak the outskirts of this city are the forests of Drakwald, the roads are owned by bandits and you can expect little resistance from the Empires troops here”
Skayak roamed the map like a hawk: scanning from the skies for prey. “There” he said pointing to a small amount of forest. Aláis blinked once and the section magnified. A slightly raised hill was present, facing one of the gate houses. “That is the ideal location for any batteries we have available”
Aláis merely nodded, she was obviously not the expert tactician in the room. For the next few hours Skayak planned each tactical move. Every exit route of the enemy was cut off, every patrolling archer marked for death. He scanned every brick of the wall for chinks in the mortar. So far they had found a flimsy section in the right wall, with any luck the enemy wouldn’t notice, and their batteries would breach it before it could be resealed. Soon every single regiment had a purpose, and thanks to Alice’s prior knowledge of hunter tactics; they knew best way to meet them was to wear them down with wave after wave of zombies. Vargulfs would be essential in this fight, their fearful reputation and ability to fly would make them key to capturing the walls and breaking enemy morale. At the gatehouse would be the most skilled of their cavalry, the enemy would no doubt lay traps on the other side and a well placed charge was all that was needed to punch through whatever spearmen waited for them. It wasn’t going to be an easy fight, the enemy would be expecting them, and had a demi-god directing their forces, the vampire’s could only pray that the men of the emperor broke, zombies aren’t great at tacking down cities. There was only one more thing to be decided upon, and it must be honed to perfection.
“There is the matter the psychic network; do you have someone in mind?” Aláis asked.

Skayak nodded “I have been thinking about it since your arrival, there are several vampires who could rise to the challenge, but I was hoping that you could lead it yourself.”
Aláis smiled “I am afraid I cannot, the battlefield will be a much more suiting place for me to be, that and I am no doubt out of practice with leading a group.”
Alice lay at the back of her mind pondering what she had heard in the last few hours: the vampire’s were going to invade, soon. They seemed to have every obstacle covered, she was thankful that the vampire hunters would be wise to the majority of these tactics. They were good, but the vampire hunters were more than capable of counteracting them. The one thing that worried her was this psychic network, what could it be? Clearly it was something the vampires could use against them, that alone was enough to be wise to it. It sounded dangerous, images of huge fields of bodies scorned by magic filled Alice’s troubled mind, she had better find out what it was, fast. She remembered how Aláis had drawn memories from her, the way that she had punched through here mind. She began to approach the presence and pondered what to do from here. She tried to walk into the presence, but found that it simply moved away, she tried to grab the presence but found a thin shell cocooning the subconscious mind. One way or another however, she was going to find out what was inside, she remembered the first time she had tried to crack a nut, would this be any different? She brushed with her subconscious against the cage of Aláis’ mind; she felt its strange touch, a thin misty aura that stopped her own subconscious mind connecting with its counterpart. She remembered how she had broken down Aláis’ mind before, she had summoned forth a powerful emotion, cast it at her foe in a single uncontrolled blast. She wasn’t sure it would work, or what torture the vampire would put her through should she fail, but she had to find out, she had to know.

She thought of a small emotion: just a little spark of joy. She could feel the summoned image in the conscious part of her mind, she shaped it into an arrow, and then? The bow twanged. A torrent of knowledge and emotions tumbled out on her; memories of childhood and moments of desire. She had no idea how one could hols so much knowledge, and even less how Aláis couldn’t know that she had access to it. She couldn’t work like this; she slowly sealed the gaping hole until only a trickle of memories came through. She smiled to herself: one would never guess the complexity of the human mind, or the sheer power it could wield. She began to try and sieve through the memories, this proved difficult even with so few, and she would need to practice this whenever she could, and then she stumbled upon it. She was pleased with herself; she had no delusions that it was her random juggling that had found the memory in question, by sheer luck Aláis must have thought about it recently. However the moment of joy was gone, now she could see what this psychic field really was. An image was forming inside her mind similar to the one of the map in front of Aláis; a thin misty veil within images flowed freely. She could draw from these images the nature of the field: a group of minds all linked to each other by a central mind. They seemed to function as rapid communicators, able to relay commands in seconds by transferring thoughts and images. But it was more than that obviously, with this network every mind in the army would be aware of the slightest weaknesses in lines, they would be able to counteract any assault or ambush made on them. Then a second thought creped into her mind, a thought that disturbed her greatly. She analysed the two thoughts carefully and felt a looming dread come over her, the second thought was about a similar thing to what she was doing now: mind reading. If these two could be mixed then the vampire’s would now every move of their adversaries in advance, able to set up counter-attacks before any order was given. Alice had to warn Shriken, vampire or not, he had to know about this.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 06 April 2008 )
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